Beyond the basics: a detailed conceptual framework of integrated STEM

Gillian H. Roehrig, Emily A. Dare, Joshua A. Ellis, Elizabeth Ring-Whalen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Given the large variation in conceptualizations and enactment of K− 12 integrated STEM, this paper puts forth a detailed conceptual framework for K− 12 integrated STEM education that can be used by researchers, educators, and curriculum developers as a common vision. Our framework builds upon the extant integrated STEM literature to describe seven central characteristics of integrated STEM: (a) centrality of engineering design, (b) driven by authentic problems, (c) context integration, (d) content integration, (e) STEM practices, (f) twenty-first century skills, and (g) informing students about STEM careers. Our integrated STEM framework is intended to provide more specific guidance to educators and support integrated STEM research, which has been impeded by the lack of a deep conceptualization of the characteristics of integrated STEM. The lack of a detailed integrated STEM framework thus far has prevented the field from systematically collecting data in classrooms to understand the nature and quality of integrated STEM instruction; this delays research related to the impact on student outcomes, including academic achievement and affect. With the framework presented here, we lay the groundwork for researchers to explore the impact of specific aspects of integrated STEM or the overall quality of integrated STEM instruction on student outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11
JournalDisciplinary and Interdisciplinary Science Education Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Conceptual framework
  • Engineering design
  • Integrated STEM
  • Interdisciplinary teaching
  • Twenty-first century skills


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