Cross-disciplinary Research
on Equitable Advanced Technology
for Education

Integrated STEM Curriculum

2021 Morgridge Researcher/practitioner Partnership Accelerator Grant (MRPEG) Award

Project title

Integrated STEM curriculum: Using educational robotics with scientific inquiry to motivate and cultivate elementary school students’ STEM-inquiry skills.

Project description

This research-practice partnership seeks to expand the implementation of an integrated STEM curriculum, using a pool of approximately 125 students and 25 teachers from grades K-4 in 2-5 elementary schools. The goal is to examine how learning occurs when students engage in robotic problem-solving activities aimed at fostering domain knowledge acquisition, collaborative learning, computational thinking, and metacognitive skill development.

Research goals and significance

The project aims to understand and facilitate students’ computational thinking and metacognitive skill development through an integrated STEM curriculum that incorporates robotic learning together with the three dimensions of scientific learning (perception, articulation, reflection). It responds to the increasing need to provide students with opportunities to actively engage in the practice of scientific inquiry and reasoning. To accomplish this, the project will create research-based STEM learning opportunities that are effective in engaging students in the process of acquiring critical inquiry and problem-solving skills of STEM knowledge. The project will also involve school administrators to enable them to adopt, with minimal training, the curriculum.

Research questions

  • RQ1: What is the impact of STEM-integrated robotics learning activities on students’ computational thinking and STEM-related affective factors such as interest, engagement, perseverance?
  • RQ2: How do collaboration and interaction occur during the implementation of STEM-integrated robotics learning activities?
    • RQ2a: How do interactions among student to student, student to tool, and student to teacher occur during the implementation of STEM-integrated robotics learning activities?
    • RQ2b: How do instructional strategies, such as scaffolding, modeling, and coaching occur during the implementation of STEM-integrated robotics learning activities?
  • RQ3: Do teacher knowledge, attitude, and self-efficacy change during a workshop in STEM-integrated robotics learning activities?
  • RQ4: What are teachers’ reflections and attitudes toward STEM-integrated robotics learning?

Expected outcomes

  1. A detailed understanding of how the design affects students, as well as issues that arise during the implementation. Such findings will be disseminated through publications and grant proposals. They will also be used for refinement of continuous field implementation.
  2. Development of online teacher training workshops to institutionalize the integrated STEM curriculum.
  3. Education materials for both the integrated STEM curriculum and the robotic learning activities.

Research team