Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

STEM Literacy: Pre-Service Elementary Teachers’ Conceptualization of Trans- and Interdisciplinary Integrated STEM Learning

Amy Sokoll Bauer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Despite calls from national initiatives for increased STEM learning in the K-12 classroom, addressing STEM in teacher preparation programs has received minimal attention (Brown, 2012). As a result, most courses remained siloed within specific content areas, with little integration (Bergman & Morphew, 2015). This has led to many elementary teachers' apprehension about teaching STEM subjects (Rittmayer & Beier, 2009), and a lacking an understanding of the integrative nature of STEM learning due to the unclear definition (Saito et al., 2016). This case study investigated how a Midwest university's pre-service teachers (PSTs) conceptualized trans- and interdisciplinary STEM connections when designing an integrated STEM project for elementary-aged students involving a localized environmental phenomenon aligned with a grade level, Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) and Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS), to address this issue. The analysis used an adapted ISTEM rubric (Mentzer & Wang, 2019) examining the integrated STEM project (n=13) and deductive coding for the investigation of the individual PST reflections (n=8) on their experiences designing the project to observe these perceived conceptualizations. The findings showed that PSTs consider trans- and interdisciplinary connections essential to integrated STEM learning opportunities according to the localized phenomena selected, the 21st century skills infused into the design-learning, such as collaboration and innovation, and the appropriate alignment to grade-level content standards. The PSTs' reflection submissions supported the conceptualization of trans- and interdisciplinary to include essential components with PSTs citing the group brainstorming opportunities to provide elementary-aged students with grade-appropriate, collaborative opportunities that would resonate with students. However, these findings highlight the complexity of capturing conceptualizations of trans- and interdisciplinary STEM learning approaches and research would benefit from further investigations.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Educational administration|Science education

Recommended Citation

Sokoll Bauer, Amy, "STEM Literacy: Pre-Service Elementary Teachers’ Conceptualization of Trans- and Interdisciplinary Integrated STEM Learning" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI30489201.