Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning

First Advisor's Name

Dr. Barbara King

First Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Emily A. Dare

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committee Chair

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Maria L. Fernandez

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Enrique Villamor

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Integrated STEM education, mathematics teachers, conceptualization, phenomenography

Date of Defense



Students’ mathematics performance in the United States and internationally continues to cause concern among educators, researchers, and policymakers. This concern coupled with a re-energized interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has resulted in calls to revisit the approaches used in teaching mathematics. A promising pathway for improving students’ problem-solving skills and mathematical understanding is through integrated approaches (Burghardt et al., 2010; Chiappetta, 2009) as is currently being practiced in STEM education. One of the major stakeholders and catalysts in implementing this transformative possibility is mathematics teachers. Teachers’ conceptualizations and approaches to instruction affect student learning outcomes (Srikoom et al., 2017).

This phenomenographic study sought to investigate how 16 K-8 mathematics teachers in South Florida conceptualize integrated STEM education as well as their accounts of enacting this phenomenon in their classroom teaching. The study also explored the factors these mathematics teachers identified as influencing their enactment of integrated STEM education. Semi-structured interviews were utilized to capture the variations in conceptualizations and enactment practices. The data analysis resulted in four Categories of Conceptualization representing the qualitatively different ways that mathematics teachers conceptualized integrated STEM education: Mathematics and Science Integrators, Mathematics, Science, and Technology Integrators, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Integrators, and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics Integrators. Teachers’ accounts showed an array of enactment practices of this phenomenon, the accounts with similar themes were grouped in the following way: Contextualizing the Learning, Teacher as Facilitator, Cooperative Learning, and Formative Assessment. Factors influencing teachers’ enactment of integrated STEM education were also categorized based on similar theme patterns, resulting in four main themes: Personal Factors, School-Related Factors, Professional Factors, and External Factors.

The findings of this study revealed that teachers’ conceptualizations and accounts of enactment of integrated STEM education in their mathematics teaching are multidimensional and that conceptions do not always inform enactment. Recommendations for transformative change, limitations, and implications for future research are presented.





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