A closer examination of the STEM characteristics of the STEM activities published in NSTA journals

Sevgi Aydin Gunbatar, Betul Ekiz Kiran, Yezdan Boz, Gillian H. Roehrig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Based on the literature review, shared characteristics of integrated STEM (I-STEM) curriculum includes an engaging and motivating context, student participation in engineering design activities, opportunity to redesign, engaging in mathematics or science content, having student-centred pedagogies, and teamwork and communication. These principles and more were used to analyse STEM activities published in NSTA journals. Purpose: It was to determine the extent to which the STEM activities published in three NSTA journals (Science and Children, Science Scope, and The Science Teacher) between the years 2013 and 2020 reflected the shared characteristics of I-STEM education. Sample: A total of 161 STEM teaching activities were analysed during the study. Methods: A STEM rubric (abbreviated as RACSTEM) developed by the authors. Expert panel reviews and intercoder agreement calculations provided support for the content validity and reliability of RACSTEM. The rubric was composed of seven main categories, namely, integrating different disciplines, real-world problem, learner-centeredness, teamwork, communication, redesign, and assessment. STEM activities were analysed based on RACSTEM through content analysis and reported using descriptive statistics. Results: Different combinations of STEM and non-STEM disciplines were integrated into the activities. 76% of the activities included real-world problems. Learner centred strategies (e.g. project-based learning) were utilized in 81% of the STEM papers. In 94% of the papers, students mostly participated in group work. Analysis revealed that 58% of the papers asked learners what they would change at the redesign stage. Finally, in the assessment aspect, the most problematic one, results showed discrepancies between the integrative nature of STEM and its assessment. Conclusion: It was unclear how many I-STEM activities were published in NSTA publications that fit the requirements for I-STEM once the NGSS was launched. The findings of this study, as well as the development of the RACSTEM instrument, seem to have the ability to resolve ambiguity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalResearch in Science and Technological Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

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  • STEM characteristics
  • content analysis
  • professional journals


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