Identification of essential integrated STEM curriculum implementation components
Keywords:engineering design, STEM curriculum, math modeling activities, elementary level
Measuring the factors affecting the implementation process are critical steps for understanding how, why, and under what circumstances integrated STEM curriculum innovations work. The overarching goal of this National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project was to design, field-test, implement, and evaluate contextualized integrated STEM learning experiences that use agricultural life sciences (AgS) as a context. To that end, we developed AgS model-eliciting activities (MEAs). MEAs are thought-revealing tasks that require student teams to mathematize real-world situations. The present study employed the iterative engineering design process guided by the innovation implementation framework to identify essential structural and interactional integrated STEM curriculum implementation components. Common Core State Standards (CCSS), teacher scopes and sequence plans, student readability level, agricultural life science contexts, culturally relevant pedagogy, and access to STEM mentors were mapped to the AgS MEA curriculum implementations. Drawing on semi-structured teacher interviews (individual and focus group), recorded teacher development sessions, and documented expert consultations, this study provides research-to-practice findings that support the effective implementation of an innovative integrated STEM curriculum for elementary grade levels. An iterative engineering design process guided by the innovation implementation framework provided a strategic iterative method to utilize teacher feedback over five AgS MEA implementations. Six structural and six interactive AgS MEA implementation components were identified. The results from this work can help mitigate the barriers researchers and teachers experience when implementing integrated STEM curriculum innovations.