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The Impact of Design-Based STEM Integration Curricula on Student Achievement in Engineering, Science, and Mathematics

Abstract

"The new science education reform documents call for integration of engineering into K-12 science classes. Engineering design and practices are new to most science teachers, meaning that implementing effective engineering instruction is likely to be challenging. This quasi-experimental study explored the influence of teacher-developed, engineering design-based science curriculum units on learning and achievement among grade 4-8 students of different races, gender, special education status, and limited English proficiency (LEP) status. Treatment and control students (n = 4450) completed pretest and posttest assessments in science, engineering, and mathematics as well as a state-mandated mathematics test. Single-level regression results for science outcomes favored the treatment for one science assessment (physical science, heat transfer), but multilevel analyses showed no significant treatment effect. We also found that engineering integration had different effects across race and gender and that teacher gender can reduce or exacerbate the gap in engineering achievement for student subgroups depending on the outcome. Other teacher factors such as the quality of engineering-focused science units and engineering instruction were predictive of student achievement in engineering. Implications for practice are discussed."

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