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STEM education has traditionally been about teaching subjects separately, e.g. Science class only, or Mathematics. There has also been less focus on Engineering and Technology within the curriculum.
Integrated STEM learning combines the subject matter of two or more STEM subjects into a joint learning experience. For example, teaching Science using an Engineering process (design-based learning). This approach recognises that each STEM subject has overlapping, shared skills to offer. For example, each STEM subject supports systematic problem-solving and critical analysis skills.
How does it help?
Quality integrated STEM learning benefits include:
- Cross-disciplinary thinking — this is valuable for students to recognise how STEM skills might be used in the ‘real world’ beyond school.
- Generating interest in a range of STEM ideas and processes.
- Increasing STEM knowledge and engagement.
Integrated STEM learning may be challenging to implement without the right capability, and more evidence is needed. If you are thinking of using an integrated STEM learning approach, it is especially important that you evaluate your initiative to improve the evidence base.
How do you do it?
- Develop teacher capabilities in multiple STEM areas.
- Teachers should collaborate with other STEM teachers to integrate material / strategies.
- Base theoretical work from one field e.g. geometry, in a real-world practice of another, e.g. engineering design.
- Explore new styles of teaching or activities e.g. more project-based work.
Want to know more?
- STEM Integration in K-12 Education: Status, Prospects, and an Agenda for Research (2014)