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Centricities of STEM curriculum frameworks: Variations of the S-T-E-M Quartet

Academic Editor: Christopher Tisdell

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  • This commentary is an extension to the integrated S-T-E-M Quartet Instructional Framework that has been used to guide the design, implementation and evaluation of integrated STEM curriculum. In our discussion of the S-T-E-M Quartet, we have argued for the centrality of complex, persistent and extended problems to reflect the authenticity of real-world issues and hence, the need for integrated, as opposed to monodisciplinary, STEM education. Building upon this earlier work, we propose two additional variationsjsolution-centric and user-centric approachesjto the provision of integrated STEM curricular experiences to afford more opportunities that address the meta-knowledge and humanistic knowledge developments in 21st century learning. These variations to the S-T-E-M Quartet aims to expand the scope and utility of the framework in creating curriculum experiences for diverse profiles of learners, varied contextual conditions, and broad STEM education goals. Collectively, these three approachesjproblem-centric, solution-centric, and user-centricjcan afford more holistic outcomes of STEM education.

    Mathematics Subject Classification: Perspective.


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  • Figure 1.  Problem-centric integrated STEM instructional framework [taken from 28]

    Figure 2.  Solution-centric integrated STEM instructional framework

    Figure 3.  User-centric integrated STEM instructional framework

    Table 1.  Summary of STEM curriculum frameworks

    Entry No. Articles on STEM Curriculum Frameworks Brief Description of Integration Centrality of STEM
    F#1 Thibaut, L., Ceuppens, S., De Loof, H., De Meester, J., Goovaerts, L., Struyf, A., Boeve-de Pauw, J., et al. [29] Integration of STEM content, problem-centered learning, inquiry-based learning, design-based learning, cooperative learning Not mentioned
    F#2 Wells, J. G. [32] PIRPOSAL Model based on engineering design PIRPOSAL is the acronym for:
    ●   Problem Identification
    ●   Ideation
    ●   Research
    ●   Potential solutions
    ●   Optimization
    ●   Solution evaluation
    ●   Alterations
    ●   Learned outcomes
    Questioning - to initiate the engineering design processes, promoting convergent and divergent thinking
    F#3 English, L. D., King, D., & Smeed, J. [9] Framework based on engineering design STEM disciplinary knowledge from each STEM domain
    F#4 Asunda, P. A., & Mativo, J. [1] Problem-based learning, pragmatism, and four theoretical constructs (systems thinking, situated learning theory, constructivism, and goal orientation theory) that blend together to accentuate Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) Problem-based learning
    F#5 Kelley, T. R., & Knowles, J. G. [15] Connections between situated learning, engineering design, scientific inquiry, technological literacy and mathematical thinking Context
    F#6 Glancy, A. W., & Moore, T. J. [11] STEM Translation Model that proposes engaging the unique ways of thinking within each discipline and applying it to solve problems in another disciplines Disciplinary thinking
    F#7 Gale, J., Alemdar, M., Lingle, J., & Newton, S. [10] Innovation Implementation Framework identifies the critical component of innovation and uses it for evaluating innovation implementation Structural and interactional innovation components
    F#8 Tan, Teo, Choy, & Ong [28] S-T-E-M Quartet Instructional Framework on vertical and horizontal integrations within and across disciplines to solve authentic problems Complex, extended and persistent problems
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    Table 2.  Comparison of the problem-, solution- and user-centric S-T-E-M Quartets

    Problem-Centric Solution-Centric User-Centric
    Focus Complex, extended, and persistent problem An existing solution to (part) of a complex, extended, and persistent problem The existing and potential users of the outputs of the STEM solution
    Types of knowledge prioritised in 21CC framework Meta Knowledge: Students may think creatively on different ways to solve the problem collaboratively Foundational Knowledge: The solution may be well-defined and core content knowledge and cross-disciplinary knowledge are pre-identified (e.g., use of technology as a requirement). Humanistic Knowledge: Development of empathy in designers can be an outcome of the process.
    Beneficiaries of the outcomes and outputs of engaging each model The learners get to explore alternatives and develop a range of solutions for people to choose from. The process is systematic, and resources may be sourced and provided to systematically test the feasibility of the idea. The product is based on what users want, need or can use. They are not forced to change their behaviour and expectations to accommodate the product. Their needs are better met.
    Limitations of the outcomes/outputs of engaging the various models Wide range of solutions may be derived that may not be pragmatic unless tested and evaluated The solution or approach may become too well-defined and limits creativity and innovation. Individual needs are diverse hence, the product may not meet the needs of a large group of beneficiaries.
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