The National Academy of Engineering is conducting a comprehensive examination of the current state of integrated Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in K-12 schools. STEM education is a recognized priority for K-12 education but to date most of the attention and funding has been focused on improving the single-letter components of STEM and mainly only science and mathematics. This study focuses attention on the potential benefits of teaching and learning that combine or integrate essential content and processes of two or more of the four STEM disciplines with particular emphasis on technology and engineering. Preliminary evidence suggests that integrated STEM may produce gains in students' academic interest and achievement as well as influence career aspirations. The goal of the study is to craft a research agenda that will examine the value of an integrated STEM education to students (K-12) in terms of learning achievement, motivation, and career aspirations. The final report summarizes the findings from the data gathering and analysis and the committee's conclusions and recommendations for a research agenda. This report is disseminated through presentations to relevant groups, publication of print and online articles and editorials and briefings to relevant stakeholders. About 75% of the funding for this study is provided through private foundations
The study is done by a carefully selected project committee of 12-14 experts in diverse fields relevant to the focus of the effort appointed by the president of the National Academy of Engineering. They are supported by knowledgeable Academy staff. The Committee meets six times over 30 months. The first workshop is to devise a conceptual framework or taxonomy of the multiple ways integration can occur. Other workshops inform the Committee about specific issues relevant to integrated STEM education. The project includes a review of the literature on integrated teaching and learning, primary qualitative research on the current practices in integrated teaching (surveys, curriculum analyses, interviews and site visits), and review of policy at the district, state, and national levels. The goal of the study is to develop a research agenda that will examine the value of an integrated STEM education to students (K-12) in terms of learning achievement, motivation, and career aspirations. An external evaluator assesses the data gathering effort, the project's communication and outreach efforts and the impact of the final report. Surveys and/or interviews with workshop participants and others determine how the report influences the national discussion STEM education. The final evaluation report distills the lessons learned and the implications for next steps in studying the integrated STEM concept.
The project and the final consensus report are designed to inform stakeholder groups that have an interest in understanding the limits and potential of integrated STEM. The stakeholders include federal and state agencies with a role in education, foundations, STEM teacher organizations and STEM professional societies as well as practitioners and the general public.