“Integrated” STEM Education
The committee chose to use the word “integrated” to describe its vision for STEM education, in part because this term is in wide use already within the education community. The modest literature that examines efforts at integration in STEM education mostly concerns science and mathematics (e.g., Berlin and Lee, 2005; Pang and Good, 2000) and, occasionally, science and technology (e.g., Geraedts et al., 2006). Integration suggests connections on at least one and perhaps many levels, including curriculum, professional development, instruction, and standards, in concert with supporting policies at the school, district, or state level. A major barrier to discerning which integration approaches may be effective and why is that researchers and practitioners appear to have no common definition of what integration means (Hurley, 2001). In addition, some types of integration may have higher barriers to implementation than others (e.g., Czerniak et al., 1999). For example, integration may require a high level of teacher content and pedagogical content knowledge in multiple STEM fields. Other models of integration, with lower barriers to implementation, might rely on content specialists in individual STEM disciplines to introduce students to key concepts in those areas. Some concepts would be reinforced or elaborated through connections to other subjects. For example, the design process could be taught by a biology teacher in the context of biomimicry or by a physics teacher exploring assistive technologies. Schools could facilitate this kind of integration by co-locating STEM teaching areas, identifying STEM “teams,” providing time for STEM teachers to coordinate lesson plans, and encouraging STEM teams to redesign existing activities to emphasize connections.