Connecting the STEM dots: measuring the effect of an integrated engineering design intervention

  • Paul R. HernandezEmail author
  • Ralph Bodin
  • Jonathan W. Elliott
  • Badaruddin Ibrahim
  • Karen E. Rambo-Hernandez
  • Thomas W. Chen
  • Michael A. de Miranda


Recent publications have elevated the priority of increasing the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) content for K-12 education. The STEM education community must invest in the development of valid and reliable to scales to measure STEM content, knowledge fusion, and perceptions of the nature of STEM. This brief report discusses the development of an instrument to measure student perceptions of the interdependent nature of STEM content knowledge in the context of a complex classroom intervention implemented in five Colorado high schools (N = 275). Specifically, cross-functional science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teams of high school students were formed to complete engineering design problems. Exploratory (pretest) and confirmatory (posttest) factor analyses indicated that a newly adapted scale to measure student perceptions of the interdependent nature of STEM content knowledge had possessed adequate model fit. Furthermore, analysis revealed a novel pattern of results for the intervention. Specifically, students with initially high perceptions of the interdependent nature of STEM sustained their high perceptions at posttest; however, students with initially low perceptions exhibited statistically significantly positive gains from pretest to posttest. Therefore, this intervention may work best with students who are at risk of losing interest in STEM disciplines. The implications of these research findings are discussed.


Integrated STEM Education Field study Intervention Engineering design problem 



This program is based upon collaborative work supported by a National Science Foundation Grant No. 0841259; Colorado State University, Thomas W. Chen, Principal Investigator, Michael A. de Miranda and Stuart Tobet Co-Principal Investigators. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul R. Hernandez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ralph Bodin
    • 1
  • Jonathan W. Elliott
    • 1
  • Badaruddin Ibrahim
    • 2
  • Karen E. Rambo-Hernandez
    • 1
  • Thomas W. Chen
    • 3
  • Michael A. de Miranda
    • 3
  1. 1.School of EducationColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.University Tun Hussein Onn MalaysiaBatu PahatMalaysia
  3. 3.College of EngineeringColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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