Date of Graduation

12-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Advisor

Stephen R. Burgin

Committee Member

William F. Mccomas

Second Committee Member

Jason Endacott

Abstract

This qualitative study investigated teachers’ understanding of their definition of I-STEM (Integrated STEM education), how those understandings manifested into lessons and associated lesson artifacts, how they assessed students in such lessons, and what factors or rationales supported their ability to conduct or not conduct I-STEM lessons. A survey was sent to the members of four professional organizations representing I-STEM disciplines to solicit their participation in this project. Ten teachers ranging from grades 9-12 participated in this study. Of those who responded, six teachers identified with National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), three teachers selected International Technology and Engineering Education Association (ITEEA), and one teacher claimed International STEM Education Association (ISEA). No teachers identified with National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. In addition to surveys, data were collected using interviews, email responses, and a review of lesson artifacts.

Three distinct factors emerged from this study. First, there was a lack of consistency among I-STEM disciplines, then, assessments of students was predominately focused on soft-skills, and finally, several participants shared three characteristics that seemed to define experiences for conducting what they believed were I-STEM lessons. Additionally teachers emphasized factors effecting implementation of I-STEM describing rationales enabling participants’ to implement I-STEM lessons. Responses provided insight and revealed how teachers understood I-STEM definition, how they interpreted integration of the disciplines, and “why” they conducted I-STEM lessons. The majority of participants implemented I-STEM in the absence of an official school/district definition.

Assessments provided interesting results in this study. The majority of participants identified expected outcomes or products based on their I-STEM definition and in their responses. However, the rubrics submitted measured or awarded points to various soft skills, such as teamwork and communication abilities. Participants discussed the implementation of I-STEM skills and knowledge, however, of the submitted rubrics, only a very criteria were presented that actually awarded points to students based on their understanding or growing in I-STEM knowledge or skills. Most points or grades were awarded based on the students’ abilities to communicate either in a presentation or paper. Few points were awarded to the process of I-STEM or to the constructed products.