Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


First Advisor

Amanda Thomas

Date of this Version



Walston, J. R. (2019). Improving kindergartener’s initiative to problem solve through integrated STEM. (Master's thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, United States). Retrieved from


A thesis presented to the faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, Major: Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, under the supervision of Professor Amanda Thomas. Lincoln, Nebraska: August 2019.

Copyright (c) 2019 Jessica Walston


Many teachers are familiar with students who are scared to try to solve a problem and instead look to adults for specific answers. Students need to be prepared to solve problems independently and collaboratively. One of the necessary skills to solve a problem is to first try, or take initiative. The purpose of this action research was to identify Kindergarten students’ initial initiative to problem solve by formal evaluation of student learning-related skills, taken from the Cooper-Farran Behavioral Rating Scale (1991). In this study, students were provided opportunities to take the initiative to problem solve through a series of integrated STEM and Habits of Mind lessons. The students were then observed during the lessons. These observations helped the teacher to prepare appropriate lessons and evaluate students on their learning-related skills. This research suggests that, when a student shows a high level of personal interest in an integrated STEM topic or Habits of Mind lesson, they are more motivated to take the initiative to problem solve. Students were also more likely to participate and persevere through a task when their interest was piqued. Teachers could use students’ personal interests in STEM education as a strategy for supporting future success.

Advisor: Amanda Thomas