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Integrative STEM Education

Online Graduate Certificates


Spring of 2006 Virginia Tech (VT) became the first university in the US to offer an Integrative STEM Education (I-STEM ED) graduate program. The new I-STEM ED graduate degree options were designed to develop 21st century P-20 STEM educators, leaders, scholars, and researchers prepared as catalysts of change for teaching, disseminating, and investigating integrative teaching/learning approaches to STEM education. Our focus on the investigation and application of new integrative approaches to STEM education uniquely sets us apart from other STEM programs. Integrative STEM Education is wholly consistent with, and is an exemplar of, the recommendations of the seminal STEM education reform publications of the past two decades, including Science for All Americans, Benchmarks for Science Literacy, Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, National Science Education Standards, Standards for Technological Literacy, and Educating the Engineer of 2020.

The foundation of Integrative STEM Education is Technology and Engineering Education, which remains the disciplinary base - the T and E in STEM education. Building on its functional role as an integrator of content and practices across disciplines (ITEA, 2000, p 6-9), I-STEM ED provides the pedagogical tenet of integrative practices where technological/engineering design based learning is an instructional requirement. The essence of the new graduate program at Virginia Tech is conveyed in how Integrative STEM Education is operationally defined.

Integrative STEM Education "is the application of technological/engineering design based approaches to intentionally teach content and practices of science and mathematics education concurrently with content and practices of technology/engineering education. Integrative STEM Education is equally applicable at the natural intersections of learning within the continuum of content areas, educational environments, and academic levels" (Wells & Ernst, 2012).The term "integraTIVE" implies an ongoing, dynamic, learner-centered process of teaching and learning distinct from "integraTED" which connotes a static, completed teacher-centered process. Concepts critical in structuring this definition, and therefore the graduate program, were carefully selected, vetted over time, and employed to present a unique epistemological position. The leading concept is "technological/engineering design based" which is presented as the instructional requirement. It is immediately followed by "intentionally" which is italicized to emphasize its importance and refers to instructional design intent on targeting the teaching/learning of selected STEM content and practices - not only those of technology and engineering, but science and mathematics as well. This intent to teach is paramount and implies assessment of learning as a required component of the instructional design. It is central to the concept of integrative STEM education and what distinguishes the VT program from all others. The last sentence of the definition clarifies that integrative STEM education operates along an educational continuum and at natural intersects of learning - it is mutually inclusive rather than exclusive. Specifically, it does not apply solely to the STEM subjects, is applicable in both formal and informal educational settings, and is appropriate at any academic level. And finally, when using the program acronym (I-STEM ED) the "I" is capitalized so as to convey the equal significance of "integrative" along-side the S.T.E.M. elements, physically connected to those elements with a hyphen, and "education" always follows the elements to emphasize this overarching goal (Wells, 2013).

Course Requirements

To be awarded the Graduate Certificate in Integrative STEM Education students must successfully complete the following 12 semester hours (SH) of coursework* offered by the Integrative STEM Education Program at Virginia Tech:

  • EDCI 5804: STEM Education Foundations (3 SH)
  • EDCI 5814: STEM Education Pedagogy (3 SH)
  • EDCI 5824: STEM Education Trends and Issues (3 SH)
  • EDCI 5774: Readings in Technology Education (3 SH)

*Note: All coursework for this Graduate Certificate is delivered via synchronous audio/video web-based delivery.

(CIP 13.1399)


For the most up to date tuition information, please see: The University Bursar

Program Website:
Integrative STEM Education

Program Director:
John Wells

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