Engaging learners in STEM education


  • Joseph Krajcik
  • İbrahim Delen




STEM education, design-based education, learning environments, integrated knowledge, scientific and engineering practices, big ideas of science and engineering


In this manuscript we focus on how to develop STEM learning environments, and how STEM can be implemented in K-12 schools. We focus on the following question: “How can we support students in building a deep, integrated knowledge of STEM so that they have the practical knowledge and problem solving skills necessary to live in and improve the world?” We also discuss criteria for evaluating STEM learning environments and the challenges teachers face in implementing STEM. We define STEM as the integration of science, engineering, technology, and mathematics to focus on solving pressing individual and societal problems. Engaging students in STEM also means engaging learners in the design process. Design is integral to student thinking in the STEM world. The design process is very non-linear and iterative in its nature but requires clearly articulating and identifying the design problem, researching what is known about the problem, generating potential solutions, developing prototype designs (artifacts) that demonstrate solutions, and sharing and receiving feedback. With the integration of design, STEM education has the potential to support students in learning big ideas in science and engineering, as well as important scientific and engineering practices, and support students in developing important motivational outcomes such as ownership, agency and efficacy. Moreover, students who engage in STEM learning environments will also develop 21st century capabilities such as problem solving, communication, and collaboration skills.


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How to Cite

Krajcik, J., & Delen, İbrahim. (2017). Engaging learners in STEM education. Eesti Haridusteaduste Ajakiri. Estonian Journal of Education, 5(1), 35–58. https://doi.org/10.12697/eha.2017.5.1.02b