K-12 STEM Education: An Overview of Perspectives and Considerations
Keywords:STEM, K-12 STEM education, integrated STEM
Over the last two decades, discussions, rhetoric, recommendations, and policies regarding STEM education have escalated among businesses and industry, policy makers, think tanks, and educators around the world. STEM education is cast as pivotal in increasing productivity, prosperity, and global competitiveness; as a lynchpin in addressing current and future socio-geo-political-economic challenges; as a panacea for filling shortages in workforce pipelines. In this commentary, we discuss the emergence of STEM acronym, its variants, and the rhetoric surrounding STEM that drives educational policy. We examine more closely the integration of STEM and present an example of how in our own work, we have begun to clarify the characteristics of integrated STEM that guide our projects. We summarize some of the research studies in the emerging field of integrated STEM that document its benefits and reflect on the opportunities afforded STEM educators for future research. This commentary is by no means exhaustive, but is intended to instigate thought, reflection, and progress regarding the nascent state of integrating the STEM disciplines.
Akerson, V., Burgess, A., Gerber, A., Guo, M., Khan, T., & Newman, S. (2018). Disentangling the meaning of STEM: Implication for science teacher education. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 29(1), 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1080/1046560X.2018.1435063
Allina, B. (2018). The development of STEAM educational policy to promote student creativity and social empowerment. Arts Education Policy Review, 119(2), 77-87. https://doi.org/10.1080/10632913.2017.1296392
Amat, A. (2019). The engagement of community stakeholders in school science education: Transforming our understandings of and engagements in the world. In L. Bryan & K. Tobin (Eds.), Critical issues and bold visions for science education: The road ahead (pp. 171-186). Leiden: Brill/Sense. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004389663_009
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). (1990). Project 2061: Science for all Americans. New York: Oxford University Press.
Australian Council of Learned Academies. (2013). STEM: Country comparisons: International comparisons of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Melbourne.
Australian Education Act. (2013). Australian Education Act 2013: An act in relation to school education and reforms relating to school education, and for related purposes. Retrieved from http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2013A00067
Avraamidou, L., & Bryan, L. (2018). Science education reform: Reflecting on the past and raising questions for the future. In L. Bryan & K. Tobin, 13 Questions: Reframing education's conversation: Science (pp. 401-418). New York: Lang
Avraamidou, L., Kayumova, S, & Adams, J. (2019). Science education: Diversity, equity, and the big picture. In L. Bryan & K. Tobin (Eds.), Critical issues and bold visions for science education: The road ahead (pp. 285-297). Leiden: Brill/Sense. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004389663_016
Barron, B., Schwartz, D., Vye, N., Moore, A., Petrosino, A., Zech, L., & Bransford, J. (1998). Doing with understanding: Lessons from research on problem- and project-based learning. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 7(3-4), 271-311. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327809jls0703&4_2
Bencze, L., Reiss, M., Sharma, A., & Weinstein, M. (2018). STEM education as “Trojan Horse”: Deconstructed and reinvented for all. In L. Bryan & K. Tobin (Eds.), 13 Questions: Reframing education's conversation: Science (pp. 69-87). New York: Peter Lang. https://doi.org/10.3726/b11305
Bergsten, C., Frejd, P. Preparing pre-service mathematics teachers for STEM education: an analysis of lesson proposals. ZDM Mathematics Education 51, 941–953 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11858-019-01071-7
Blumenfeld, P. C., Soloway, E., Marx, R. W., Krajcik, J. S., Guzdial, M., & Palinscar, A. (1991). Motivating project-based learning: Sustaining the doing, supporting the learning. Educational Psychologist, 26, 369-398. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.1991.9653139
Brophy, S., Klein, S., Portsmore, M., & Rogers, C. (2008). Advancing engineering education in P-12 classrooms. Journal of Engineering Education, 97, 369–387. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2168-9830.2008.tb00985.x
Bryan, L. A., & Allexsaht-Snider, M. (2008). Community contexts for understanding nature and naturally occurring events in rural schools in Mexico. L1 – Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 8(1), p. 43-68. https://doi.org/10.17239/l1esll-2008.08.01.06
Bryan, L. A., Moore, T., Johnson, C., & Roehrig, G. (2015). Integrated STEM education. In C. Johnson, E. Peters-Burton, & T. Moore (Eds.), STEM road map: A framework for Implementing Integrated STEM Education (pp. 23-37). New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315753157-3
Bybee, R. (2010). Advancing STEM education: A 2020 vision. Technology and Engineering Teacher, 70(1), 30–35.
Bybee, R. (2013). The case of STEM education. Arlington, VA: NSTA Press. https://doi.org/10.2505/9781936959259
Calabrese Barton, A., Tan, E., & Greenberg, D. (2017). The makerspace movement: Sites of possibilities for equitable opportunities to engage in underrepresented youth in STEM. Teachers College Record, 119, 1-44.
Carter, L., Rodriguez, C., & Jones, M. (2018). Sociopolitical activism and transformative learning: Expanding the discourse about what counts in science education. In L. Bryan & K. Tobin (Eds.), 13 Questions: Reframing education's conversation: Science (pp. 437-452). New York: Peter Lang. https://doi.org/10.3726/b11305
Chin, C., & Chia, L. G. (2006). Problem‐based learning: Using ill‐structured problems in biology project work. Science Education, 90(1), 44-67. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.20097
Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering. (1998). 1998 Biennial Report to The United States Congress. Retrieved from https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2000/ceose991/ceose991.html
Cullen, T. & Guo, M. (in press). The nature of technology. In V. Akerson & G. Buck (Eds.), Critical Questions in STEM Education. Rotterdam: Sense.
Czerniak, C., Weber, W., Sandmann, A., & Ahern, J. (2010). A literature review of science and mathematics integration. School Science and Mathematics, 99(8), 421-430. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1949-8594.1999.tb17504.x
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.
Dewey, J. (1910). How we think. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath. https://doi.org/10.1037/10903-000
Dugger, W. E. (1993). The relationship between technology, science, engineering, and mathematics. (ERIC No. ED 366 795).
Elkin, M., Sullivan, A., & Bers, U. (2018). Books, butterflies, and bots: Integrating engineering and robotics into early childhood curricula. In L. English & T. Moore (Eds.), Early engineering learning (pp.225-248). Singapore: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-8621-2_11
English, L. (2016). STEM education K-12: Perspectives on integration. International Journal of STEM Education, 3, Article 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40594-016-0036-1
English, L. (2017). Advancing elementary and middle school STEM education. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 15, 5-24. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10763-017-9802-x
English, L., & King, D. (2019). STEM Integration in sixth grade: Designing and constructing paper bridges. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 17, 863-884. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10763-018-9912-0
European Commission. (2004). Europe needs more scientists. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
European Commission. (2007). Science education NOW: A renewed pedagogy for the future of Europe. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.
Figazzolo, L. (2009). Impact of PISA 2006 on the education policy debate. Retrieved from http://download.ei-ie.org/docs/IRISDocuments/Research%20Website%20Documents/2009-00036-01-E.pdf
Fortus, D., Dershimer, R. C., Krajcik, J., Marx, R. W., & Mamlok-Naaman, R. (2004). Design-based science and student learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41, 1081–1110. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.20040
Foster, J., & Yaoyuneyong, G. (2016). Teaching innovation: Equipping students to overcome real-world challenges, Higher Education Pedagogies, 1(1), 42-56. https://doi.org/10.1080/23752696.2015.1134195
Friedman, T. (2005). The world is flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century. Macmillan.
Froese-Germain, B. (2010). The OECD, PISA and the impacts of educational policy. Canadian Teachers’ Federation: Virtual Research Center.
Gardner, M. & Tillotson, J. (2019). Interpreting integrated STEM: Sustaining pedagogical innovation within a public middle school content. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 17, 1283-1300. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10763-018-9927-6
Gilbert, J. K. (2006). On the nature of “context” in chemical education. International Journal of Science Education, 28(9), 957-976, DOI: 10.1080/09500690600702470
Gorur, R., & Wu, M. (2015). Leaning too far? PISA, policy and Australia's ‘top five’ ambitions. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 36, 647-664. doi:10.1080/01596306.2014.930020
Government of Canada. (2007). Mobilizing science and technology to Canada’s advantage: Summary. Ottawa. Retrieved from https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/113.nsf/vwapj/STsummary.pdf/$file/STsummary.pdf
Guzey, S. S. & Aranda, M. (2017). Student participation in engineering practices and discourse: An exploratory case study. Journal of Engineering Education, 106, 585-606.
Guzey, S. S., Harwell, M., Moreno, M., Peralta, Y., & Moore, T. (2017). The impact of design-based STEM integration curricula on student achievement in science, engineering, and mathematics. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 26(2), 207-222.
Halverson, E. R., & Sheridan, K. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84, 495-504. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.84.4.34j1g68140382063
Hand, B., Norton-Meier, L., Staker, J., & Bintz, J. (2009). Negotiating science: The critical role of argument in student inquiry. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (2004). Problem-based learning: What and how do students learn? Educational Psychology Review, 16, 235-266. https://doi.org/10.1023/b:edpr.0000034022.16470.f3
Hudson, R., Creager, M., Burgess, A., & Gerber, A. (in press). The nature of mathematics and its impact on K-12 education. In V. Akerson & G. Buck (Eds.), Critical Questions in STEM Education. Rotterdam: Sense.
Hynes, M. M. (2010). Middle-school teachers’ understanding and teaching of the engineering design process: A look at subject matter and pedagogical content knowledge. International Journal of Technology Design Education, 22, 345-360. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10798-010-9142-4
Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. (2007). Rising above the gathering storm: Energizing and employing America for a brighter economic future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Johnston, A. C., Akarsu, M. G., Moore, T., & Guzey, S. S. (2019). Engineering as the integrator: A case study of one middle school science teacher's talk. Journal of Engineering Education, 108, 418-440. https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20286
Karafyllis, N. (2015). Why ‘technology’ is not universal: Philosophical remarks on the language and culture issue of STEM education. In O. Renn, N. Karafyllis, A. Hohlt, & D. Taube (Eds.), International science and technology education: Exploring culture, economy, and social perceptions (pp. 3-18). New York: Routledge.
Kim, A., Sinatra, G., & Seyranian, V. (2018). Developing STEM identity among young women: A social identity perspective. Review of Educational Research, 88, 589-625. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654318779957
Kim, B., Rasporich, S., & Gupta, D. (2019). Imagining a sustainable future through the construction of fantasy worlds. In P. Sengupta, M. Shanahan, & B. Kim (Eds.), Critical, transdisciplinary and embodied approaches in STEM education (pp. 61-82). Switzerland: Springer Nature. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-29489-2
Lachapelle, C. P., & Cunningham, C. M. (2014). Engineering in elementary schools. In S. Purzer, J. Stroble, & M. Cardella (Eds.), Engineering in pre-college settings: Research in synthesizing research, policy, and practices (pp. 61–88). West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt6wq7bh.8
Lederman, N. & Lederman J. (in press). Nature of scientific knowledge, scientific inquiry, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In V. Akerson & G. Buck (Eds.), Critical Questions in STEM Education. Rotterdam: Sense.
Lee, B. Y., & Chang, E. J. (2017). A cross-cultural study on STEAM education in Korea and United States. Korean Science and Art Forum, 30, 277 288. https://doi.org/10.17548/ksaf.2017.09.30.277
Lee, J. (2010). President Obama in North Carolina: “Our Generation’s Sputnik Moment is Now”. Retrieved from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2010/12/06/president-obama-north-carolina-our-generation-s-sputnik-moment-now
Llewellyn, D. (2014). Inquire within: Implementing inquiry- and argument-based science standards in grades 3–8 (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Maltese, A. V., Melki, C. S. & Wiebke, H. L. (2014). The nature of experiences responsible for the generation and maintenance of interest in STEM. Science Education, 98, 937–962. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.21132
Maltese, A. V., & Tai, R. H. (2010). Eyeballs in the fridge: Sources of early interest in science. International Journal of Science Education, 32, 669–685. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.21132
Marginson, S., Tytler, R., Freeman, B., & Roberts, K. (2013). STEM country comparisons: International comparisons of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Final report. Australian Council of Learned Academies, Melbourne, Vic.
Means, B., Wang, H., Wei, X., Lynch, S., Peters, V., Young, V., & Allen, C. (2017). Expanding STEM opportunities through inclusive STEM-focused high schools. Science Education, 101, 681-715. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.21281
Miller, J. D., & Kimmel, L. G. (2012) Pathways to a STEMM profession, Peabody Journal of Education, 87, 26-45. https://doi.org/10.1080/0161956x.2012.642274
Moore, T., Glancy, A., Tank, K., Kersten, J., Smith, K., & Stohlmann, M. (2014). A framework for quality K-12 engineering education: Research and development. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research, 4(1), Article 2. https://doi.org/10.7771/2157-9288.1069
Morrison, J. (2006). Attributes of STEM education: The student, the school, the classroom. TIES (Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM), 20.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2018). Science and engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and design at the center. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25216
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2020). Building capacity for teaching engineering in K–12 education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25612
National Academy of Engineering. 2016. Grand challenges for engineering: Imperatives, prospects, and priorities. Washington: National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23440
National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. (2009). Engineering in K-12 education: Understanding the status and improving the prospects. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/12635
National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. (2014). STEM integration in K-12 Education: Status, prospects, and an agenda for research. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/18612
National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. (2007). Rising above the gatherings storm: Energizing and employing America for a brighter economic future. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/11463
National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. (2010). Rising above the gathering storm, revisited: Rapidly approaching category 5. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/12999.
National Research Council. (2000). Inquiry and the national science education standards: A guide for teaching and learning. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/9596
National Research Council. (2010). Standards for K-12 engineering education? Washington, DC: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/12990
National Research Council (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington D.C.: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/13165
National Science Foundation. (2018). STEM + Computing K-12 Education (STEM+C). Retrieved from https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505006
Newell, W. H., & Green, W. J. (1982). Defining and teaching interdisciplinary studies. Improving College and University Teaching, 30(1), 23-30. https://doi.org/10.1080/00193089.1982.10533747
NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/18290
Office of the Chief Scientist. (2014). Science, technology, engineering and mathematics: Australia’s future. Australian Government, Canberra. Retrieved from https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/sites/default/files/STEM_AustraliasFuture_Sept2014_Web.pdf
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2008). Encouraging student interest in science and technology studies. Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/publications/encouraging-student-interest-in-science-and-technology-studies-9789264040892-en.htm).
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2019). 2019 International Migration and Displacement Trends and Policies Report to the G20. Retrieved from https://www.oecd.org/migration/mig/G20-migration-and-displacement-trends-and-policies-report-2019.pdf
Osborne, J. A., Simon, S. B., & Collins, S. (2003). Attitudes towards science: A review of the literature and its implications. International Journal of Science Education, 25, 1049-179. https://doi.org/10.1080/0950069032000032199
Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2009). Framework for 21st century learning. Retrieved from www.p21.org/about-us/p21-framework
Peppler, K., & Bender, S. (2013). Maker movement spreads innovation one project at a time. Phi Delta Kappan, 95(3), 22-27. https://doi.org/10.1177/003172171309500306
Perignat, E., & Katz-Buonincontro, J. (2019). STEAM in practice and research: An integrative literature review. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 31, 31-43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tsc.2018.10.002
Pouliot, C. (2019). Being a science education researcher and a concerned citizen against epistemological anesthesia. In L. Bryan & K. Tobin (Eds.), Critical issues and bold visions for science education: The road ahead (pp. 221-232). Leiden: Brill/Sense. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004389663_012
President's Council of Advisors of Science and Technology (2010). Prepare and inspire: K-12 education in science technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for America’s future. Retrieved from: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast-stemed-report.pdf
Rennie, L., Venville, G., & Wallace, J. (Eds.). (2012) Integrating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203803899
Roth, W. M. (2001). Learning science through technological design. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38, 768–790. doi:10.1002/tea.1031
Royal Society Science Policy Centre. (2014). Vision for science and mathematics education. London: Royal Society.
Schwab, J. (1966). The teaching of science. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Sheridan, K., Halverson, E. R., Litts, B., Brahms, L., Jacobs-Priebe, L., & Owens, T. (2014). Learning in the making: A comparative case study of three makerspaces. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 505-531.
Sjøberg, S. & Schreiner, C. (2010). The ROSE project: An overview and key findings. Retrieved from https://roseproject.no/network/countries/norway/eng/nor-Sjoberg-Schreiner-overview-2010.pdf
STEM Task Force. (2014). Innovate: A blueprint for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in California public education. Dublin, CA: Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation.
Tai, R. T., Liu, C. Q., Maltese, A. V., & Fan, X. T. (2006). Planning early for careers in science. Science, 312, 1143-1144. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1128690
Tan, E., Calabrese Barton, A., & Benavides, A. (2019). Engineering for sustainable communities: Epistemic tools in support of equitable and consequential middle school engineering. Science Education, 103, 1011-1046. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.21515
Tan, M. (2019). Innovation to what end? Makerspaces as sites for science education. In L. Bryan & K. Tobin (Eds.), Critical issues and bold visions for science education: The road ahead (pp. 203-219). Leiden: Brill/Sense. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004389663_011
Tasar, M. F., Taylor, J. M, & Dana, T. M. (1999). Engineering with LegosTM. Paper presented at the summer meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), San Antonio, TX, August 1999.
Taylor, E., & Taylor, P. (2018). Breaking down Enlightenment silos: From STEM to ST2EAM education, and beyond. In L. Bryan & K. Tobin (Eds.), 13 Questions: Reframing education's conversation: Science (pp. 454-472). New York: Peter Lang. https://doi.org/10.3726/b11305
Taylor, J. M., Dana, T. M., & Tasar, M. F. (2001). An integration of simple materials and complex ideas: Description of an instructional sequence in statics. International Journal of Engineering Education, 17, 267-275.
Taylor, J. A., Lunetta, V. N., Dana, T. M., & Tasar, M. F. (2002). Bridging science and engineering: An integrated course for non-science majors. Journal of College Science Teaching, 31 (6), 378-383.
Taylor, P. C. (2015). Transformative science education. In R. Gunstone (Ed.), Encyclopedia of science education (pp. 1079-1082). Dordrecht, NL: Springer.
Torrance, E. P. (1977). Creativity in the classroom. Washington, DC: National Education Association
Toulmin, S. E. (2008). The uses of argument (updated ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tytler, R. (2014). Attitudes, identity, and aspirations toward science. In N. G. Lederman & S. K. Abell (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (pp. 82–103). New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203097267.ch5
U.S. Department of Education. (2009). Race to the top executive summary. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/executive-summary.pdf
Vasquez, J. A. (2014/2015). STEM—Beyond the acronym. Educational Leadership, 72(4), 10-15.
Vedder-Weiss, D., & Fortus, D. (2012). Adolescents’ declining motivation to learn science: A follow-up study. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49, 1057–1095. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.21049
Wang, H-H., Moore, T., Roehrig, G., & Park, M. S. (2011). STEM integration: Teacher perceptions and practice. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research, 1(2), Article 2. https://doi.org/10.5703/1288284314636
Wendell, K. B. & Rogers, C. (2013). Engineering design-based science, science content performance, and science attitudes in elementary school. Journal of Engineering Education, 102, 513–540. https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20026
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum.
How to Cite
The copyright of articles published in the Hellenic Journal of STEM Education belong to the authors.
Published articles are subject to Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.