Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: Issues, Reflections, and Ways Forward
reviewed by Sarah J. Carrier - November 20, 2014
Title: Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: Issues, Reflections, and Ways Forward
Author(s): Lťonie Rennie, Grady Venville, & John Wallace (Eds)
Publisher: Routledge, New York
ISBN: 0415897572, Pages: 160, Year: 2012
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Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics begins with a solid overview of curriculum integration, including unidisciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary curricula. The authors present the curricular approaches as a continuum, and suggest that integration strategies are best examined with specific approaches in mind.
The authors then describe each approach and invite the reader to examine the various applications presented in this volume, compare them to their specific experience, and learn from the experiences of others. Each case study offers different approaches to integration of STEM, outlining the challenges and barriers as well as successes, in a variety of settings. In addition to variation of school design, the editors include various grade levels and content focus areas. The focus areas (learning, problem solving, engineering, literacy, reinforcement, focus, teacher support, leadership, community, and values) help the reader interact with each of the variables that influence integration of STEM. For example, Chapter Five focuses on literacy and presents a school with a population of indigenous students. While these language issues strongly influence student learning, other concernssuch as attendancealso play a role in student performance. This chapter is interesting and includes relevant issues across schools, even though it may be the least applicable for readers.
Each chapters focus questions guide the readers explorations, and they would be helpful in graduate courses or for professional learning communitiesparticularly in schools attempting STEM integration. This book also tackles the policy implications and school designs that hinder true integration, especially in upper grades.
The final chapter provides a summary of the ten case studies, along with a useful table with key headings and findings. The chapter identifies and discusses six attributes that impact the success of integrated programs: a small and stable learning environment, leadership, team activities in the classroom, in-school planning time, flexible timetable, and ties to the community. Each attribute supports the need for connecting the learning opportunities to students lives. Integration of STEM in the real world is discussed throughout; researchers emphasize the need to help students see these connections in their lives.
Finally, the text addresses concerns over high stakes testing practices and their hindrance of implementation of true STEM practice and makes recommendations for policy makers and school designers. While some of the cases seem limited to their contexts, the editors are able to expand and generalize the examples to a broader perspective. This series of case studies is valuable for educators and teacher educators in STEM fields.