Transcending disciplines: Engaging college students in interdisciplinary research, integrated STEM, and partnerships

Trina Kilty, Andrea Burrows, Kate Welsh, Kevin Kilty, Shawna McBride, Philip Bergmaier


An authentic, interdisciplinary, research and problem-based integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) project may be ideal for encouraging scientific inquiry and developing teamwork among undergraduate students, but it also presents challenges. The authors describe how two interdisciplinary teams (n=6) of undergraduate college students built integrated STEM projects in a research based internship setting, and then collaboratively brought the project to fruition to include designing lessons and activities shared with K-12 students in a classroom setting. Each three person undergraduate team consisted of two STEM majors and one Education major. The Education majors are a special focus for this study. Interviews, field observations, and lesson plan artifacts collected from the undergraduate college students were analyzed according to authenticity factors, the authentic scientific inquiry instrument, and an integrated STEM instrument. The authors highlight areas of strength and weakness for both teams and explore how preservice teachers contributed to integrated STEM products and lessons. Teacher educators might apply recommendations for teacher preparation and professional development when facilitating authentic scientific inquiry and integrated STEM topics with both STEM and non-STEM educators. Undergraduate college students were challenged to fully integrate the STEM disciplines, transitions between them, and the spaces between them where multiple disciplines existed. By describing the challenges of integrating the spaces between STEM, the authors offer a description of the undergraduate college students’ experiences in an effort to expand the common message beyond a flat approach of try this activity because it works, to a more robust message of try this type of engagement and purposefully organize for maximum results.


Authentic Scientific Inquiry (ASI), integrated STEM, undergraduate research, interdisciplinary research, partnerships, high-altitude balloon

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Licencia de Creative Commons 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Journal of Technology and Science Education, 2011-2024

Online ISSN: 2013-6374; Print ISSN: 2014-5349; DL: B-2000-2012

Publisher: OmniaScience