New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Empowering STEM-Teachers: Towards an Interdisciplinary STEM Didactical Approach

Heleen Bossuyt, UCLL (Belgium)

Nele Vandamme, UCLL (Belgium)


Despite the considerable amount of mathematics and science in secondary schools in Flanders, Belgium, a significant number of students experience STEM-courses as abstract and irrelevant. Because STEM is often divided in the different disciplines and taught as such, students build up very little experience in solving realistic multidisciplinary problems. In order to accomplish challenging STEM-education in which pupils acknowledge the relevance and the interaction amongst the STEM-disciplines, STEM-teachers need to be competent to increase the perceived relevance of their own discipline and to stimulate problem solving abilities of their students.

In this project, we aim to develop an integrated STEM didactic course in which pre-service teachers are prepared both to develop/coach specific STEM-projects and to teach separate STEM-disciplines in such a way that links amongst the different STEM-disciplines are revealed.

In a preliminary study we investigated the view of STEM-educators on the current and ideal teaching of STEM-courses. The results show that for all disciplines the current approach focuses on specific discipline knowledge and algorithmic problem solving. All experts indicate the need of a transfer to a more interdisciplinary STEM-approach which focuses on developing problem solving techniques, conceptual thinking, linking different STEM-disciplines and context-rich learning environments.

The main goal of the interdisciplinary STEM-course is to strengthen the PCK of pre-service teachers (specialized in a specific STEM-discipline) in order to accomplish an optimal implementation of the interdisciplinary STEM-aspects. The general outline of the course is:

To optimally educate pre-service teachers to powerful STEM-teachers, a STEM-course was developed in which:

* Pre-service teachers learn to acknowledge the shortcomings in the current approach in high schools

* Good practice examples with the focus on inquiry based learning for multidisciplinary STEM-classes are offered

* Pre-service teachers are enabled to implement relevant STEM-aspects in a variety of contexts.


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