Purdue University Graduate School
Final_Dissertation_Jung Han_12-9-2021.pdf (4.02 MB)


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posted on 2021-12-09, 23:03 authored by Jung HanJung Han
13ABSTRACTEducational reform challenges teachers to integrate science and engineering practices in teaching the contents (Next Generation Science Standards [NGSS] Lead States, 2013; National Research Council [NRC], 2012; Lotter, Carnes, Marshall, Hoppmann, Kiernan, Barth, & Smith, 2020). However, research that reports teachers’ experiences in implementing integrated STEM is limited (Dare, Ellis, Roehrig, 2018).

Intending to advance integrated STEM education through providing a practical and replicable model for schools to integrate STEM learning, this study was conducted to investigate the project Teachers and Researchers Advancing Integrated Lessons in STEM(TRAILS). TRAILS was a three-year project funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) (Award #DRL-1513248), which lasted during the 2016-2019 school years. A total of 30 high school science and engineering technology teachers participated in the TRAILS project for 1-3 years as an experimental group. This group of teachers participated in a two-week summer professional development and learned ways to integrate STEM knowledge and skills through their instruction. During the following school year, teachers implemented integrated STEM lessons that included science and engineering practices, through which 1157 experimental group students were exposed to an authentic, real-world STEM context. The comparison group included 18 STEM teachers and 877 students from similar environments, but they did not participate in the project and only took the surveys.

The study presented here consists of three sub-studies, which are separate from each other in research questions but connected as one larger study that explored the impact of integrated STEM instruction on students’ STEM learning and 21stcentury skills. The first study focused on the impacts of the TRAILS model, which integrates STEM through shared practices, on student design cognition. The second study examined how teachers’ self-efficacy in teaching STEM influenced students’ academic achievement, 21stcentury skills, and STEM career awareness. The third study explored the sustainability of the TRAILS model by examining the STEM classes after the funded project ended.

The results revealed that science and engineering practices within the STEM context impacted student design cognition collectively, and teachers’ self-efficacy in teaching STEM influenced students’ academic performance, STEM career awareness, and 21stcentury skills positively. Additionally, the teachers who participated in the TRAILS project for multiple years maintained their effectiveness in integrated STEM teaching after the project ended as measured by students’ academic performances. The students also showed increases in their confidence in critical thinking, which is one of the skills needed in the 21st century.

In summary, this study supports that integrated STEM instruction enhances student engineering design learning and their 21stcentury skills. TRAILS provided a practical model of integrated STEM education, where teachers can increase STEM teaching efficacy and knowledge and skills to integrate STEM through professional development and community of practice. The present study suggests researchers and educators provide teachers with adequate supports, which include investing in professional developments, creating Communities of Practice (CoP), and developing instructional models of integrated STEM, for the successful implementation of integrated STEM in secondary schools.


National Science Foundation. Award #DRL-1513248


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Technology Leadership and Innovation

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Todd R. Kelley

Additional Committee Member 2

Nathan Mentzer

Additional Committee Member 3

Greg J. Strimel

Additional Committee Member 4

J. Geoff Knowles

Additional Committee Member 5

Scott Bartholomew

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