Graduation Date

5-2020

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Education

Program Director

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

First Reader

Matthew Davis, PhD

Second Reader

Aaron Richardson, MA, MLIS

Abstract

There is a disparity in research conducted for STEM education across elementary, middle, high school, and college. STEM learning teaches students to ask questions, look at a problem through multiple lenses, work collaboratively with others, plan carefully, become flexible, embrace change, improve upon their idea, persevere through challenges, and open themselves up to discussing new ideas and differing points of view. The literature review revealed the differing schools of thought regarding STEM education, a variety of implementation methods, and the changes seen in classrooms detailing how students connect in class curricula to real world examples. The literature also highlighted a gap in knowledge as a result of a lack of research conducted on STEM education in elementary school classrooms. This qualitative research was conducted through the lens of constructivism and utilized a mixed methods phenomenological approach. The data was gathered by surveying and interviewing elementary school teachers incorporating STEM education in their classrooms. Findings identify that STEM education produces students with better conflict-resolution skills, self-taught teachers out of a lack of opportunity, and out of pocket expenses. These findings have implications for elementary educators and districts by outlining the skills instilled in students through STEM learning and raises awareness on the financial cost placed on educators. This thesis proposes that in order for STEM education to become interwoven in elementary education specific funding needs to be available for training opportunities and grade level curricula aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

IRB Number

#10846

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