Potential and Challenges in Integrating Science and Mathematics in the Classroom Through Real-World Problems: A Case of Implementing an Interdisciplinary Approach to STEM

  • Wanty WidjajaEmail author
  • Peter Hubber
  • George Aranda


There is a pressing need to make STEM integration more transparent and balanced across disciplines, to support teachers in fostering this integration, and to evaluate students’ learning through such integration. However, research has been inconclusive as to what effective STEM integration entails. This study employs design-based research methodology in a case study of two teachers from one secondary school that was implementing an interdisciplinary approach in STEM. The findings indicated increased student engagement and enjoyment from the use of real-world problems and apparent student autonomy and ownership of the project. The teachers thought more deeply about how to better integrate interdisciplinary skills and knowledge in their teaching, and they experienced a greater sense of satisfaction in making learning meaningful for students. The challenges that teachers face include the integration of the learning of two subject disciplines into one interdisciplinary discipline that has real-world applications and the time needed to plan collaboratively. An interdisciplinary approach requires a change in school culture as to the provision in the timetable for interdisciplinary planning and to the enculturation of inquiry-based learning.


Real-world problems Interdisciplinary approach Mathematics Science Secondary classroom 



We would like to thank the teachers and students in the school who contributed to this study and Dr. Esther Y.-K. Loong for her contribution to the project. The study was funded by Research for Educational Impact, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University, Australia.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Education, School of EducationDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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