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Answering Wicked Questions: Using a Transdisciplinary Ste(A)M Maker Project to Explore Pre-Service Teachers’ Experiences

Zoe Lynn Falls, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Though today's problems are interconnected, complicated, and unpredictable, students continue to gain knowledge in discrete, standardized disciplinary silos. When subject integration is discussed in STEM and STEAM (STEM + Arts) literature, there is little consensus how and to what extent the disciplines should be integrated. Preservice teachers learn to teach based on the ways in which they were taught; their focus on content-specific rote knowledge provides limited experience with integrated education. This interpretivist case study aims to gain a better understanding of how pre-service teachers experience transdisciplinary learning solving a wicked problem as part of a STE(A)M making project in an instructional technology course. The study focused on a group of five preservice teachers, four females, and one male who were tasked with creating solutions to lower student dropout rates in their local school district. Over the course of four weeks, data was collected in the form of audio recordings of class meetings, interviews with each participant, and participant created artifacts. Analysis of the findings revealed that the current educational environment is infertile ground for solving wicked problems within a transdisciplinary framework. Students struggled to see beyond both the content of the course, technology, and their individual content areas; this limited their ability to develop solutions. They also found it difficult to move beyond the first idea they found, even though they knew it was not addressing the problem as it should. Finally, the constant presence of the researcher had unforeseen consequences on how they functioned as a group, and how they worked through solving the problem.

Subject Area

Education|Science education

Recommended Citation

Falls, Zoe Lynn, "Answering Wicked Questions: Using a Transdisciplinary Ste(A)M Maker Project to Explore Pre-Service Teachers’ Experiences" (2020). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI27956789.