Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 759–774 | Cite as

Investigating Preservice STEM Teacher Conceptions of STEM Education



Surrounding the national emphasis on improving STEM education, effective STEM educators are required. Connected, yet often overlooked, is the need for effective preservice STEM teaching instruction for incoming educators. At a basic level, preservice STEM teacher education should include STEM content, pedagogy, and conceptualization. However, the literature suggests no leading conception of STEM education, and little is known about how preservice STEM teachers are conceptualizing STEM education. In order to explore preservice STEM teacher conceptions of STEM education, preservice teachers at a large, Midwestern research university were given an open-ended survey eliciting both textual and visual responses. Here, we report and discuss the results of employing this instrument in relation with the current STEM conceptualization literature.


STEM education Exploratory study Preservice teacher research Conceptualization 


  1. Anderson TR, Schonborn KJ, du Plessis L, Gupthar AS, Hull TL (2013) Identifying and developing students ability to reason with concepts and representations in biology. In: Multiple representations in biological education. Springer, Netherlands, pp 19–38Google Scholar
  2. Babbie ER (1990) Survey research methods. Wadsworth Pub, Co BelmontGoogle Scholar
  3. Bodnar G, Klobuchar M, Geelan D (2001) The many forms of constructivism. J Chem Educ 78(8):1107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bodner GM, Orgill M (2007) Theoretical frameworks for research in chemistry/science education. Pearson Prentice HallGoogle Scholar
  5. Breiner JM, Harkness SS, Johnson CC, Koehler CM (2012) What is STEM? A discussion about conceptions of STEM in education and partnerships. Sch Sci Math 112(1):3–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buckley BC (2000) Interactive multimedia and model-based learning in biology. Int J Sci Educ 22(9):895–935CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bybee R (2013) The case of STEM education: challenges and opportunities. NSTA Press, ArlingtonGoogle Scholar
  8. Charmaz K (2006) Constructing grounded theory: a practical guide through qualitative research. Sage Publications Ltd, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Cook MP (2006) Visual representations in science education: the influence of prior knowledge and cognitive load theory on instructional design principles. Sci Educ 90(6):1073–1091CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fink A (1995) The survey handbook, vol 1. Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
  11. Fowler CW (1988) Population dynamics as related to rate of increase per generation. Evol Ecol 2(3):197–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hurtado S, Newman CB, Tran MC, Chang MJ (2010) Improving the rate of success for underrepresented racial minorities in STEM fields: insights from a national project. New Dir Inst Res 2010(148):5–15Google Scholar
  13. Johnson CC (2013) Conceptualizing integrated STEM education. Sch Sci Math 113(8):367–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kelly GA (1955) The psychology of personal constructs. Norton, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Kim B (2001) Social constructivism. Emerg Perspect Learn Teach Technol 1(1):16Google Scholar
  16. Koonce DA, Zhou J, Anderson CD, Hening DA, Conley VM (2011) What is STEM? Retrieved from
  17. Lynch SJ, Peters-Burton EE, Ford MR (2014) Building STEM opportunities for all. Educ Leadersh 72(4):54–60Google Scholar
  18. Magnusson S, Krajcik J, Borko H (1999) Nature, sources, and development of pedagogical content knowledge for science teaching. In: Gess-Newsome J, Lederman NG (eds) Examining pedagogical content knowledge. Springer, Berlin, pp 95–132Google Scholar
  19. Mayer RE, Bove W, Bryman A, Mars R, Tapangco L (1996) When less is more: meaningful learning from visual and verbal summaries of science textbook lessons. J Educ Psychol 88(1):64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Merrill C (2009) The future of TE masters degrees: STEM. In: Presentation at the 70th annual international technology education association conference, Louisville, KentuckyGoogle Scholar
  21. Moore TJ, Johnson CC, Peters-Burton EE, Guzey SS (2015) The need for a STEM road map. In: Johnson CC, Peters-Burton EE, Moore TJ (eds) STEM road map: a framework for integrated STEM education. Routledge, p 1Google Scholar
  22. Morrison JA (1999) Investigating teachers’ understanding and diagnosis of students’ preconceptions in the secondary science classroom. Retrieved from Oregon State University Library.
  23. Nadelson LS, Callahan J, Pyke P, Hay A, Dance M, Pfiester J (2013) Teacher STEM perception and preparation: inquiry-based STEM professional development for elementary teachers. J Educ Res 106(2):157–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council (2014) STEM integration in K-12 education: status, prospects, and an agenda for research. National Academies Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  25. National Research Council (2012) A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. National Academies Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  26. National Research Council (2013) Monitoring progress toward successful K-12 STEM education: a nation advancing?. National Academies Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  27. O’Brien S, Karsnitz J, Sandt S, Bottomley L, Parry E (2014) Engineering in preservice teacher education. In: Purzer S, Strobel J, Cardella ME (eds) Engineering in pre-college settings: synthesizing research, policy, and practices. Purdue University Press, pp 277–300Google Scholar
  28. Outlier Research & Evaluation. (2014). What do STEM schools do? 78 components of inclusive STEM high schools. Retrieved from
  29. Peeck J (1993) Increasing picture effects in learning from illustrated text. Learn Instr 3(3):227–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rodriguez AJ (2015) What about a dimension of engagement, equity, and diversity practices? A critique of the next generation science standards. J Res Sci Teach 52(7):1031–1051CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Roth WM, Bowen GM, McGinn MK (1999) Differences in graph-related practices between high school biology textbooks and scientific ecology journals. J Res Sci Teach 36(9):977–1019CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sherin MG (2007) The development of teachers’ professional vision in video clubs. In: Goldman R, Pea R, Barron B, Derry S (eds) Video research in the learning sciences. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Skiba R, Rausch MK (2004) The relationship between achievement, discipline, and race: an analysis of factors predicting ISTEP scores. Children left behind policy briefs. Supplementary Analysis 2-D. Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, Indiana UniversityGoogle Scholar
  34. Tobin K (1990) Social constructivist perspectives on the reform of science education. Aust Sci Teach J 36(4):29–35Google Scholar
  35. Tsupros N, Kohler R, Hallinen J (2009) STEM education: a project to identify the missing components. Intermed Unit 1:1–35Google Scholar
  36. Von Glasersfeld E (1995) Radical constructivism: a way of knowing and learning. Studies in mathematics education series: 6. Falmer Press, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Purdue University West Lafayette College of EducationLafayetteUSA

Personalised recommendations