Pre-Service Teachers and Integrated STEM Learning: navigating the disciplines

Joanne Blannin, Duncan Symons

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Policy documents and white papers in Australia continue to advocate for STEM education that prepares young people for the future workforce. The Australian Office of the Chief Scientist regularly engages in discourse that promotoes STEM learning as a key focus for the future of Australia (Prinsley and Baranyai, 2015; Prinsley, Beavis, & Clifford-Hordacre, 2016). It has become clear that learning of in-service and pre-service teachers (PSTs) needs to enable teachers to develop students’ skills and dispositions in STEM learning. In contrast to traditional approaches, principally concerned with the acquisition of content, the ongoing narrative regarding STEM education proposes a need to develop inquiring students, who: Have the ability to solve non-routine problems; Engage in critical thinking; Emphasizes improving their ability to collaborate, communicate and reason the strategies they utilize. This research paper argues that the above-listed skills are better addressed within an integrated teaching approach that supports students to engage with knowledge and skills within and through a range of learning areas. This study has investigated how PSTs negotiated the intersection and overlap of the four STEM disciplines within an integrated STEM teaching experience. Data was gathered from PSTs' contributions to a online, live, digital media board ( to which they contributed while observing their peers teaching. Semi-structured individual interviews with PSTs were then carried out. PSTs' digital media board contributions and interviews data were next analysed alongside students' assignments submitted to the university online portal (where consent was provided).Data from the digital-media-board (Padlet) has provided an understanding of how PSTs navigated each of the independent STEM disciplines within their integrated STEM teaching. Thematic analysis of interviews also revealed that pre-service teachers make clear, strategic decisions about when to re-prioritize each of the STEM disciplines within a lesson. Findings from this project have led to the development of a framework to scaffold the professional development of pre- and in-service teachers’ engagement with integrated STEM learning. This framework builds on the work of Clarke and Hollingsworth’s (2002), in particular, their model of teacher professional growth. This research project is ongoing and will continue into 2019.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education 2018 - University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 2 Dec 20186 Dec 2018


ConferenceInternational Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education 2018
Abbreviated titleAARE 2018
Internet address

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