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The impact of integrated STEM education on academic achievement, reflective thinking skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science education

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This research has been conducted to evaluate the effects of integrated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education on academic achievement, reflective thinking skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science education. This study, which used pre-test–post-test and semi-experimental model with permanence test, control group as a research model, was conducted with 44 students attending to the 6th grade of a public school in 2015–2016 academic year. The study consisted of the control group with constructivist teaching and the experimental group with integrated STEM education. Academic achievement test and reflective thinking scale towards problem solving were applied. In SPSS 24 package program, analysis of quantitative data was performed using t-test and Mann–Whitney U test. In conclusion, the integrated STEM education does not significantly increase success, reflective thinking skills towards problem solving and their effects on permanence according to constructivist teaching, but provides positive contributions to academic achievement. Keywords: Integrated STEM education, science education, academic achievement, problem solving, reflective thinking skills.
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Cypriot Journal of Educational
Sciences
Volume 13, Issue 1, (2018) 94-107
http://sproc.org/ojs/index.php/cjes/
The impact of integrated STEM education on academic
achievement, reflective thinking skills towards problem solving and
permanence in learning in science education
Gulcan Sarican, Teacher, Ministry of Education, Istanbul, Turkey.
Devrim Akgunduz*, Computer Education and Instructional Technologies Department, Istanbul Aydin
University, Turkey.
Suggested Citation:
Sarican, G. & Akgunduz, D. (2018). The impact of integrated STEM education on academic achievement,
reflective thinking skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science
education. 13(1), 94-107.
Received date October 02, 2017; revised date November 15, 2017; accepted date December 02, 2017.
Selection and peer review under responsibility of Prof Dr. Huseyin Uzunboylu, Near East University.
©2018 SciencePark Research, Organization & Counseling. All rights reserved.
Abstract
This research has been conducted to evaluate the effects of Integrated STEM education on academic achievement, reflective
thinking skills towards problem solving, and permanence in learning in science education. This study, which used pre-test-
post-test and semi-experimental model with permanence test, control group as a research model, was conducted with 44
students attending to the 6th grade of a public school in 2015-2016 academic year in the "force and motion", "light and
sound", "matter and heat" and "electrical conduction" units. Working groups of the study consisted of the Control group with
constructivist teaching and the experimental group with integrated STEM education. Academic achievement test, reflective
thinking scale towards problem solving were applied to determine the students' academic achievement, reflective thinking
skills towards problem solving and their effects on permanence of integrated STEM education. In SPSS 24 package program,
analysis of quantitative data was performed t-Test and Mann Whitney U test. In conclusion, it has been seen that integrated
STEM education does not significantly increase success, reflective thinking skills towards problem solving and their effects on
permanence according to constructivist teaching. However, it has become clear that integrated STEM education provides
positive contributions to academic achievement.
Keywords: Integrated STEM education, science education, academic achievement, problem solving, reflective thinking skills
* * ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE: Devrim, Akgunduz*, Istanbul Aydin University, Faculty of Education, Istanbul 34295, Turkey.
E-mail address: devrimakgunduz@aydin.edu.tr / Tel.: +90 444 1 428
Sarican, G. & Akgunduz, D. (2018). The impact of integrated STEM education on academic achievement, reflective thinking
skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science education. 13(1), 94-107.
1. Introduction
In the 21st century, the skills students must have been expressed as: creativity, innovation, problem
solving, critical thinking, technology literacy, information literacy, career and life skills, initiative,
flexibility, and social and cultural skills (Akgunduz, 2016; P21, 2016; WEF, 2016). This STEM education
that aims to equip the students with these skills is pointed out as one of the significant emerging
approaches in the field of education in the 21st century. STEM education is an approach that combines
the disciplines of science, math, engineering and technology (Akgunduz, 2015a; Akgunduz, 2016; Corlu,
2014). All of these disciplines highlight the skills in the 21st century, enabling students to obtain the
abilities to adapt, social skills, communication skills, scientific thinking, self-control, and adaptation to
innovation and creativeness (Bybee, 2010; NRC, 2010). The purpose of the implementation of qualified
STEM education is to raise quality engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and tech experts. In addition,
it aims to prepare the children for the post-school life, facilitating an encounter with real-world
problems (Akgunduz et al, 2015a; Akgunduz, 2016; Corlu, Adiguzel, Ayar, Corlu and Ozel, 2012).
The difference of STEM education from other approaches is that it is integrative. That STEM
education is integrative means that it blends the content of science and math with engineering and
technology (Akgunduz et al, 2015). In the integrative STEM education, learning quality and students'
interest have the potential to increase with project-based activities. With project-based education
integrated with math, engineering, technology and science courses, students' desire to learn and their
learning levels could be higher. At this stage, methods based on problem solving, exploration and
research all have great importance for the integration of STEM education (Sahin, Ayar and Adiguzel,
2014).
Actions taken to initiate STEM education have progressed with the space race starting in the 1950s
and the education reforms and policies during this race. Especially in the United States, this reform
targeted to raise quality engineers and scientists and aimed to lead the world economy (Akgunduz et
al., 2015a; Bybee, 2010). Some of these reforms include National Science Education Standards laid
down in 1996 (National Research Council, 1996) and the Next Generation Science Standards laid down
in 2012 (Achieve, 2012). With the last reforms, science education standards included engineering
design and standards on engineering design from pre-school to the end of high school, strengthening
the interdisciplinary relations (Achieve, 2012). The United States Government as part of state policy
devotes an average of $3 billion each year to STEM disciplines and STEM education (Akgunduz, 2016).
Turkey has in recent years achieved major advances in STEM education. Under the leadership of
Istanbul Aydin University (Akgunduz et al., 2015a, 2015b) and TUSİAD (2014. 2017), various reports
have been prepared and shared with the public. In addition, although many of them are not at the
level of K12, there is an increase each day in the research conducted, but it must be taken into
consideration that the actual development of STEM education will be provided with research and
application on the K12 level.
1.1. The importance and purpose of the research
At the national level, education programs are replenished at time periods of several years. A recent
change made in science education was carried out at the beginning of 2018 (TTKB, 2018). With this
change, actions regarding STEM education was included in the science education teaching program
with an engineering component. However, there are a variety of issues related to the implementation
of these steps. In this context, there is no adequate knowledge and application experience. In order to
have this experience, a lot of research and many applications are needed.
What is required is the development of STEM education design with the aims of increasing the
cooperation with technology, science and math teachers and supporting the innovative and critical
thinking skills of students, adaptation of this education to the conditions of our country, and preparing,
testing and evaluating the curriculum of professional development (Corlu, 2014). Especially in science
education at middle school level, STEM education must be evaluated from the viewpoint of several
variables and examples of implementation must be replicated.
When research about STEM education on databases such as Web of Science, Google Scholar, etc. is
examined, it has been established that international research started in the 2000s, whereas at the
national level, considerable research was done since 2014. However, it has also been observed that
Sarican, G. & Akgunduz, D. (2018). The impact of integrated STEM education on academic achievement, reflective thinking
skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science education. 13(1), 94-107.
most of the research was conducted on one or two STEM disciplines, that research integrating the four
disciplines is very rare, that the research is mostly conducted with prospective teachers, that research
on academic success on middle school level is rare and that no research was conducted on reflective
thinking towards problem solving.
Unlike problem solving, what is central in the reflective thinking which adapts to the input-output
framework of the process of problem solving is not inputs of problem, but one's own actions (Kizilkaya
and Askar, 2009). Therefore, it is vital that reflective thinking should be used effectively in problem
solving during STEM education.
This study differs from others in that it investigates the application of integrative STEM education
with all its disciplines together, the academic success in science course at middle school level and the
development of reflective thinking skills geared for problem solving.
The main purpose of this study is to determine how integrated STEM education has an impact on
academic achievement, reflective thinking skills associated with problem solving and permanence?"
The following research questions were sought in line with the research objective:
The overarching research question is…….Then four research questions were answered in this study
as follows;
1- Is there any meaningful difference between pre and post-test scores of academic achievements?
2. Is there any meaningful difference among the academic achievement permanence test scores?
3- Is there any meaningful difference between pre and post-test scores of reflective thinking skills
associated with problem solving?
4- Is there any meaningful difference among retro-reflective ability permanence test scores for
problem solving?
2. Method
2.1. The model of the study
In this study, quasi-experimental design (pattern with pre-test and post-test control group) was
used. According to Buyukoztork, Kilic Cakmak, Akgun, Karadeniz and Demirel (2010), semi-
experimental designs with paired patterns are assigned to experimental groups and control groups as
unselected. The independent variable of the study is Integrated STEM education. Dependent variables
of research are academic achievement, reflective thinking skills towards problem solving (RTSPS) and
permanence in learning.
Quantitative data is used in the study. The level of the relationship between the quantitative data
and the variables is determined. Goksu, Padem and Konakli (2012) explained quantitative research as
numerical research in general terms, testing a problem with theory, measuring it with numbers and
analysing it with statistical methods.
The research design used in the study is given in Table 1.
Table 1. Study pattern
Groups
Learning Approach
Post-Test
PT
Control Group (CG)
Constructivism
AAT,
RTSSPS
AAT,
RTSSPS
Experimental Group (EG)
Integrated STEM Education
AAT,
RTSSPS
AAT,
RTSSPS
Sarican, G. & Akgunduz, D. (2018). The impact of integrated STEM education on academic achievement, reflective thinking
skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science education. 13(1), 94-107.
The Academic Achievement Test (AAT) was used on all students to determine the effects of learning
approaches on the academic achievement of students, the Reflective Thinking Skills Scale towards
Problem Solving (RTSSPS) to determine the effect of RTSPS and the Permanence Test (PT) to determine
the effect of the study on permanence. Tests and scales were applied to students as pre-test, post-test
and permanence test (PT).
2.2. Participants
The study group of the study consists of 44 students studying middle school in the province of
Umraniye, İstanbul, in the academic year of 2015-2016. The practice was carried out at the school
where the researcher worked as a teacher. In the class selection, random selection was made among
the classes taught by the researcher who is a teacher. One of the selected classes was designated as
EG and the other as CG. There are 22 students in both CG and EG. The CG and EG consisted of 22
students, 10 girls and 12 boys.
2.3. Instruments
In the study AAT and RTSSPS were used.
Academic Achievement Test (AAT)
AAT was applied to measure students' achievements in the units of "Force and Motion", "Light and
Sound", "Electrical Conduction" and "Matter and Heat". AAT consists of 20 multiple-choice questions
prepared in accordance with achievements.
In many countries, multiple-choice questions are used to measure students' cognitive levels or
cognitive capacities (Pressley, Yokoi, van Meter, van Etten and Freebern, 1997). These tests are also
used because it is easy and quick to evaluate and allows many sub-gains to be measured.
In the 6th grade of middle school, a pool of 50 questions was created in accordance with the gains
in the units of "Force and Motion", "Light and Sound", "Electrical Conduction" and "Matter and Heat".
In order to ensure the validity of the test coverage, the opinions of one faculty member working in the
department of science teaching of the state universities and 2 faculty teachers of science class have
been taken into consideration. The scientific suitability of the questions was considered and a pilot
study was conducted with 60 students studying the 7th grade. At the end of the pilot study, the number
of questions was reduced to 20.
The AAT used in the study was evaluated according to the number of answers given by the students.
Questions that were left blank and answered incorrectly were evaluated as 0 points in the test and the
correctly answered questions as 1 point. The scores of the students who will take the test are rated at
a maximum of 20 points and a minimum of 0 points.
The difficulty and discriminatory indices of the test questions were determined in accordance with
the data obtained as a result of the preliminary evaluations of the prepared success test, and the
reliability of the test (KR-20) was found to be 0.87. The average strength of the 20-item success test
was 0.64 and the average discrimination was 0.58. In a success test, the substance strength is expected
to be around 0.50. (Buyukozturk, Kilic Cakmak, Akgun, Karadeniz and Demirel, 2010). The questions in
the AAT consist of moderate and easy questions. If the test item discriminantity index value is ≥ 0.40.
the item is considered very good (Buyukozturk, Kilic Cakmak, Akgun, Karadeniz and Demirel, 2010).
When we look at item discrimination values, the questions in the AAT are highly discriminatory.
Table 2 shows how many questions are included in the subjects of "Force and Motion," "Light and
Sound," "Electrical Conduction" and "Matter and Heat" in AAT.
Sarican, G. & Akgunduz, D. (2018). The impact of integrated STEM education on academic achievement, reflective thinking
skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science education. 13(1), 94-107.
Table 2. Distribution of the items constituting the achievement test according to the subject headings
Title of Topics
Subtitle of Topics
Related Question Numbers
Force and Motion
Velocity
1.2.3.4
Light and Sound
Absorption of Sound
5.6.7.8
Matter and Heat
Interaction of Heat with Matter
9.10.11
Light and Sound
Reflection of Light
12.13.14
Electrical Conduction
Electrical Conduction and Electrical Resistance
15.16.17.18.19.20
Reflective Thinking Skills Scale towards Problem Solving (RTSSPS)
"RTSSPS" was applied to reveal the change of reflective thinking skills of students towards problem
solving. The scale was developed by Kizilkaya and Askar (2009) and consists of 14 items. The options
range from "Always: 5" to "Never: 1". The scale is a 5-point Likert-type measure that determines to
what extent the respondents agree with the research-related statements. The highest score that can
be obtained from the scale is 70. the lowest score is 14.
Kizilkaya and Askar (2009) calculated the Cronbach Alpha value as 0.83 for all of the items on the
scale. The reliability analysis of the items in the RTSSPS used in this study was carried out again and the
internal consistency coefficient of Cronbach Alfa was found to be 0.85.
Permanence Test
Permanence test; is the instrument used to measure students' memory levels and problem solving
levels, which are conducted within the experimental setup of the research, one year after the last test.
In order to determine the permanence level, the AAT and RTSSPS, which were applied pre-test and
post-test were applied as a permanence test.
2.4. Procedures
The data were collected by two researchers. One of the researchers is an academician conducting
high-level research on STEM education, and the other is a science teacher who has attended the STEM
teacher certification program organized by a foundation university and obtained an STEM teacher
certificate.
Pilot study for 1 week (4 lesson hours) was given to EG students before the study. The aim of the
pilot study is to prepare students for the Engineering Design Cycle and for STEM integration. In total,
the application lasted 22 hours (5 weeks). The whole study was carried out by researchers. AAT and
RTSSPS pre-test were applied to all students before application. Table 3 shows the durations of the
implemented applications according to the subjects.
Table 3. Duration of the applications performed in the CG and EGs according to subjects
Title of Topics
Duration
Electrical Conduction and Electrical Resistance
6 Hours
Reflection of Light
4 Hours
Absorption of Sound
4 Hours
Interaction of Heat with MATTER
4 Hours
Velocity
4 Hours
Sarican, G. & Akgunduz, D. (2018). The impact of integrated STEM education on academic achievement, reflective thinking
skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science education. 13(1), 94-107.
Total
22 Hours
CG (constructivist approach) applications
1. In CG, lesson plans were implemented within the Science Program in accordance with the gains in
"Force and Motion," "Light and Sound," "Electrical Conduction" and "Matter and Heat" units.
2. All lessons were administered as 4 hours per week, in accordance with the course book, in
accordance with the annual plan.
3. In the course of the lessons, the constructivist approach was used with appropriate techniques.
4. The course book, worksheets, posters and laboratory supplies were used as references.
5. Homework assignments were given to the students at the end of each course to prepare them for
the next lesson. Homework has been checked and evaluated.
6. In the evaluation of the students, mostly the textbook was used.
EG (integrated STEM training) applications
1. In the EG, Integrated STEM Education was implemented within the Science Program in accordance
with the gains in "Force and Motion", "Light and Sound", "Electrical Conduction" and "Matter and
Heat" units.
2. All lessons were carried out within the annual plan and 4 hours per week with appropriate lesson
plans for STEM approach.
3. The course book, worksheets, posters and laboratory supplies were used as references.
4. Homework assignments were given to the students at the end of each course to prepare them for
the next lesson. Homework has been checked and evaluated.
5. In the EG, some activities appropriate to the STEM approach, which required engineering design
process in CG were applied instead of some activities in CG.
6. The students were asked to design proposals for solutions of the problem and to design these
solutions, and the designs were transformed into products and the engineering processes of the
students were evaluated.
Sample lesson schedule flow:
The first activity applied to the students of the EG belongs to the sub-topic titled "Velocity" of the
"Force and Movement" unit. According to the lesson plan prepared, firstly questions were asked to
determine the students' prior knowledge about the topic. In the second phase, students were able to
discover the concept of velocity. In the third phase, the concept of velocity is explained, velocity units
are given, and problems related to unit conversions are solved. In the fourth stage, the "I design a
racing car" activity, which is appropriate to the Engineering Design Cycle, was held to transfer learned
information onto everyday life. In the activity, students are asked to design a vehicle, determine
velocity, and figure out how a vehicle will change velocity. In line with the information they learned in
the third phase, the students measured the distance taken by the meter while calculating the velocity
by the meter and the passing time by the stopwatch. As a result of the measurements made, they
calculated an object's velocity by the ratio of the road covered to the passing time. In the fourth stage,
students studied the structure of a toy car and designed a car of their own. While doing their designs,
they made prototype drawings and made calculations using mathematical information. At the last
stage measurement and evaluation were done with the evaluation questions.
2.5. Data analysis
One sample Kolmogorov Smirnov-Z test was used to determine whether the data obtained in the
study conformed to the normal distribution, as a result of AAT, RTSSPS pre-test, post-test and
Sarican, G. & Akgunduz, D. (2018). The impact of integrated STEM education on academic achievement, reflective thinking
skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science education. 13(1), 94-107.
permanence test. The Kolmogorov Smirnov-Z test is used to test whether a coincidental sample of data
fits a uniform distribution, such as uniform, normal, or Poisson distribution (Akgul, 2005).
In the study, Mann Whitney U test was used for non-parametric tests for AAT pre-test and RTSSPS
pre-test data with no normal distribution of CG and EG (p <0.05). The t-Test was applied to the
parametric analyses for AAT post-test, AAT PT, RTSSPS post-test and RTSSPS PT data showing normal
distribution of CG and EG (p>0.05). The t-Test is used to test whether the difference between the two
related sample averages is significantly different from zero (Buyukozturk, 2006).
3. Findings and discussion
3.1. Findings from the first research question
The first research question is to determine whether there is a meaningful difference between the
AAT pre-test and AAT post-test score averages of the CG and EG students who are educated by the
constructivist approach and integrated STEM education in the 6th grade science course of middle
school.
Table 4 shows the results of the Mann Whitney U Analyses for the AAT pre-test scores CG and EG
students (Kolmogorov Smirnov-Z p values: (CG: p <0.05 and EG: p>0.05).
Table 4. The results of the arithmetic mean, standard deviation and Mann Whitney U analysis of
the AAT PT scores CG and EG students
Groups
N
X
sd
Mean Rank
Sum of
Rank
U
Z
p
CG
22
10.45
1.819
21.77
479.00
226.00
0.381
0.704
EG
22
11.00
2.944
23.23
471.00
Total
44
10.73
2.434
When Table 4 was examined, CG had a mean AAT pre-test of 10.45 and a standard deviation of
1.819; EG's mean AAT pre-test is 11.00 and the standard deviation is 2.944. According to Table 4, it is
seen that CG and EG students have similar values of AAT pre-test scores. Since the P value was 0.704
(p>0.05), there was no significant difference between the two groups' AAT pre-test scores. Given the
average values of the AAT pre-test scores, the students in the EG and CG may be regarded as equivalent
in terms of academic achievement, although the students in EG with integrated STEM training seem to
have a higher academic success.
Table 5 shows the results of the arithmetical mean, standard deviation and independent group t-
Test on the AAT post-test scores CG and EG students (Kolmogorov Smirnov-Z p values: (CG: p>0.05 and
EG: p>0.05).
Table 5. Arithmetic mean, standard deviation, and independent group t-Test results of AAT post-test scores
of CG and EG students
Groups
N
X
t-Test
t
sd
p
CG
22
12.50
-1.377
21
0.176
EG
22
14.23
Sarican, G. & Akgunduz, D. (2018). The impact of integrated STEM education on academic achievement, reflective thinking
skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science education. 13(1), 94-107.
When Table 5 is examined, CG's AAT post-test average is 12.50 and standard deviation is 3.851; The
AAT post-test average of the EG is 14.23 and the standard deviation is 4.450. According to Table 5, it is
seen that PT' group averages of the students in EG are higher than the average post-test' points of CG
students. However, there was no significant difference between the two groups when compared with
AAT post-test data (p>0.05). Integrated STEM education increases the academic achievement averages
more than the constructivist approach, but this does not make a meaningful difference.
3.2. Findings from the second research question
The second research question is to determine whether there is a meaningful difference between
the RTSSPS pre-test and RTSSPS post-test score averages of the CG and EG students who are educated
by constructivist approach and integrated STEM education in the 6th grade science course of middle
school.
Table 6 shows the results of the arithmetic mean, standard deviation and Mann Whitney U Analyses
of RTSSPS pre-test scores of the students in the CG and EGs (Kolmogorov Smirnov-Z p values: CG: p
<0.05 and EG: p>0.05).
Table 6. The results of the arithmetic mean, standard deviation and Mann Whitney U analysis of the RTSSPS
pre-test scores CG and EG students
Groups
N
X
sd
Mean Rank
Sum of Rank
U
Z
p
CG
22
55.59
9.127
23.59
479.00
218.00
0.564
0.573
EG
22
54.45
8.606
23.23
471.00
Total
44
55.02
8.786
When the Table 6 was examined, CG's average of the RTSSPS pre-test score is 55.59 and standard
deviation is 9.127; the average of EG's RTSSPS pre-test is 55.45 and the standard deviation is 8.606.
According to Table 6, it is seen that CG and EG students have similar values of RTSSPS pre-test scores.
Since the P value was 0.573 (p>0.05), there was no significant difference between the two groups'
RTSSPS pre-test scores. Regarding the mean values of the RTSSPS pre-test, although the students in CG
to which the constructivist approach is applied do not seem to have a reflective thinking skills to solve
a higher problem, the students in the EG and CG can be regarded as equivalent in terms of RTSPS.
Table 7 shows the results of the arithmetical mean, standard deviation and independent group t-
Test on the RTSSPS post-test scores CG and EG students (Kolmogorov Smirnov-Z p values: (CG: p>0.05
and EG: p>0. 05).
Table 7. Arithmetic mean, standard deviation, and independent group t-Test results of RTSSPS post-test
scores of CG and EG students
Groups
N
X
t-Test
t
sd
p
CG
22
52.86
0.627
21
0.534
EG
22
51.09
When Table 7 was examined, CG's RTSSPS post-test average is 52.86 and standard deviation is 8.055;
EG's RTSSPS post-test average is 51.09 and the standard deviation is 10.542. According to Table 7, it is
Sarican, G. & Akgunduz, D. (2018). The impact of integrated STEM education on academic achievement, reflective thinking
skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science education. 13(1), 94-107.
seen that the average scores of the students in CG are higher than the average scores of the students
in EG in RTSSPS post-test However, there was no significant difference between the two groups when
compared with RTSSPS post-test data (p>0.05). When evaluating the RTSSPS post-test scores, it can be
said that the effect of constructivist approach and integrated STEM education did not make a
significant difference.
3.3. Findings from the third research question
The third research question is to determine whether there is a meaningful difference between
students' AAT PT score points and the constructive method and integrated STEM education in the 6th-
grade science course of middle school.
Table 8 shows the results of the arithmetical mean, standard deviation and independent group t-
Test on the AAT PT scores CG and EG students (Kolmogorov Smirnov-Z p values: (CG: p>0.05 and EG:
p>0. 05).
Table 8. Arithmetic mean, standard deviation, and independent group t-Test results of AAT PT scores of CG
and EG students
Groups
N
X
sd
t-Test
t
sd
p
CG
22
9.50
5.031
-1.569
21
0.124
EG
22
11.86
4.960
When Table 8 was examined, CG had a mean AAT PT of 9.50 and a standard deviation of 5.031; EG's
average AAT PT is 11.86 and the standard deviation is 4.960. According to Table 8, it is seen that CG
and EG students have similar values of AAT PT scores. Since the p value was 0.124 (p>0.05), there was
no significant difference between the two groups' AAT PT scores. Given the average values of the AAT
PT scores, the students in EG and CG may be regarded as equivalent in terms of academic achievement,
although the students in EG with integrated STEM training seem to have a higher academic success.
Table 9 shows the results of the arithmetical mean, standard deviation and independent group t-
Test on the AAT post-test and AAT PT scores CG and EG students (Kolmogorov Smirnov-Z p values: (CG:
p>0.05 and EG: p>0. 05).
Table 9. Dependent group t-Test results for CG and EG students' AAT post-test and AAT PT scores
Groups
N
X
sd
t-Test
t
sd
p
CG AAT Post Test
22
12.50
3.851
4.095
21
0.124
CG AAT PT
22
10.25
3.436
EG AAT Post Test
22
14.23
4.450
2.767
21
0.012
EG AAT PT
22
12.86
4.006
When Table 9 was examined, it was found that CG students had an average AAT post-test of 12.50
and a standard deviation of 3.851; 10.25 of the mean AAT PT and 3.436 of the standard deviation;
14.23 of the AAT post-test average of the students of EG and 4.450 of the standard deviation; It is seen
that the average AAT PT is 12.86 and the standard deviation is 4.006. There was no significant
difference between the AAT post-test and AAT PT scores of CG students (p>0.05), but there was a
Sarican, G. & Akgunduz, D. (2018). The impact of integrated STEM education on academic achievement, reflective thinking
skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science education. 13(1), 94-107.
statistically significant difference in favour of post-test between the AAT post-test and AAT PT scores
of the students of EG (p <0.05).
3.4. Findings from the fourth research question
The fourth research question is to determine whether there is a meaningful difference between
students' RTSSPS PT score points and the constructive method and integrated STEM education in the
6th-grade science course of middle school.
Table 5 shows the results of the arithmetical mean, standard deviation and independent group t-
Test on the RTSSPS PT scores CG and EG students (Kolmogorov Smirnov-Z p values: (CG: p>0.05 and
EG: p>0.05).
Table 10. Arithmetic mean, standard deviation, and independent group t-Test results of RTSSPS PT scores of
CG and EG students
Groups
N
X
sd
t-Test
t
sd
p
CG
22
52.27
11.797
-1.028
21
0.310
EG
22
55.45
8.461
When Table 10 is examined, CG has a RTSSPS PT mean of 52.27 and a standard deviation of 11.797;
the average of EG' RTSSPS P is 55.45 and the standard deviation is 8.461. According to Table 10, it is
seen that the average RTSSPS PT scores of the students in EG are higher than those in CG students.
However, no significant difference was found between the two groups in terms of the RTSSPS PT score
(p>0.05). It can be said that the constructivist approach and integrated STEM training do not make a
significant difference to the results of RTSSPS PT.
Table 11 shows the results of the arithmetical mean, standard deviation and independent group t-
Test on the RTSSPS post-test and RTSSPS PT scores CG and EG students (Kolmogorov Smirnov-Z p
values: (CG: p>0.05 and EG: p>0. 05).
Table 11. Dependent group t-Test results for CG and EG students' RTSSPS post-test and RTSSPS PT scores
Groups
N
X
sd
t-Test
t
sd
p
CG RTSSPS Post Test
22
52.86
8.055
0.233
21
0.818
CG RTSSPS PT
22
52.25
11.915
EG RTSSPS Post Test
22
51.09
10.542
2.323
21
0.074
EG RTSSPS PT
22
54.75
10.896
When Table 11 is examined, it is seen that CG students have an RTSSPS post-test average of 52.86
and the standard deviation is 8.055; RTSSPS PT average is 52.25 and the standard deviation is 11.915;
51.09 and the standard deviations of the RTSSPS post-test average of the students in EG is 10.542;
RTSSPS PT average is 54.75 and the standard deviation is 10.896. According to Table 11, when the data
of RTSSPS post-test and RTSSPS PT is analysed, there was no significant difference between the average
scores of RTSSPS post-test and RTSSPS PT in CG students (p>0.05). There was no significant difference
between the RTSSPS post-test and RTSSPS PT scores of the students in EG (p>0.05).
Sarican, G. & Akgunduz, D. (2018). The impact of integrated STEM education on academic achievement, reflective thinking
skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science education. 13(1), 94-107.
4. Conclusion and discussion
In the first research question, it was examined whether there was a meaningful difference between
AAT PT and AAT post-test score averages of students who are applied structured approach and
integrated STEM education in 6th-grade science course of middle school. It was determined that there
was no significant difference between the academic achievement of the groups administered by the
constructivist approach and integrated STEM education before and after the research. It has been
observed that integrated STEM education seems to increase academic achievement more according
to constructivist approach but has limited effect on academic achievement. It is thought that the
reason why academic achievement does not reach a significant level is due to the fact that STEM
education is process-oriented and evaluated with a result-oriented achievement test. The relevant
literature has in general presented results in the opposite direction of the results of this study. In the
studies conducted by Tabaru (2017) on the subject of simple electrical circuits, by Salman Parkalay
(2017) on the unit Let's Get Familiar With the Fauna of Living Beings, by Irkcatal (2016) on the simple
machines of the unit Force and Movement, by Yildirim (2016) on the subjects of the 7th grade, by
Ceylan (2014) on Acids and Alcalis, by Roth (2001) on the 6th and 7th grade Simple Machines subject,
and by Doppelt, Mehalik, Schunn, Silk and Krysinski (2008), it has been established that the final
academic success test scores of experimental group students working STEM-based activities or
activities toward STEM are higher than those of CG students. Fortus et al. (2004) showed that learning
levels of 10th and 11th-grade students are improving with activities that can be considered as design-
based STEM education. Becker, Park (2011) In the related literature, there were no studies showing
that there were no significant differences between groups with STEM-based activities and those with
other approaches and models. However, there are studies which show that there is no difference
between the schools named as STEM schools and the other schools in terms of academic success (Oner
and Capraro, 2016; Judson, 2014; Young et al., 2011). For example, Oner and Capraro (2016) conducted
a survey of STEM schools in Texas to determine the extent to which the integration of STEM schools'
technology and engineering has succeeded, and found no significant difference between the
mathematics and science achievement scores of T-STEM schools and other schools, and found that
there was a significant difference between science and mathematics achievement scores over the
years among students of both schools.
The second research question is to determine whether there is a meaningful difference between
the RTSSPS pre-test-RTSSPS post-test score averages of the CG and EG students who are educated by
the constructivist approach and integrated STEM education in the 6th-grade science course of middle
school. Analysing the RTSSPS pre-test data obtained in the study shows that there is no meaningful
difference between the students in the CG and EG in terms of the RTSPS. It is seen that CG who were
applied the constructivist approach has higher RTSPS than the integrated STEM education group with
higher scores in the final test. It was observed that students in the CG and EG had a decrease in their
reflective thinking skills scores for problem solving after the application. A significant reduction in the
reflective thinking skills scores for problem solving by the students with integrated STEM training and
constructivist approach shows that the applied approaches do not change students' RTSPS in the
subject-matter. This is not considered as a conclusion expected by the researchers. This is because the
STEM education practices include the stages expressed in the report prepared by the OECD (2003) as;
identification of the problem, identification of the appropriate information, determination of possible
solutions, solution of the problem, evaluation of the solution and sharing of the results. These steps
are also similar to engineering design process steps. In addition, relevant literature shows that problem
solving abilities and reflective thinking skills are are among the 21st century skills (P21. 2018. WEF,
2016), and are among the objectives of the STEM education (Akgunduz et al., 2015a, Akgunduz et al.,
2015b, Akgunduz, 2016. Ozcelik and Akgunduz, 2018). In the related literature of STEM education,
there is limited research on the reflective thinking skills of STEM education towards problem solving,
and the results are contrary to the results of this research. Gulhan (2016) concluded the research he
conducted in the 5th-grade science class that STEM applications were more effective in the
development of the layer of reflective thinking, which is the highest level of creativity. Pekbay (2017)
obtained the conclusion in the researched conducted in the 7th-grade science applications that STEM
activities developed students' problem solving skills based on everyday life. In another study, Ozcelik
and Akgunduz (2018) stated that problem solving skills of students improved as a result of extra-
curricular STEM education practices based on science education with gifted middle school students.
Sarican, G. & Akgunduz, D. (2018). The impact of integrated STEM education on academic achievement, reflective thinking
skills towards problem solving and permanence in learning in science education. 13(1), 94-107.
In the third research question, it was examined whether there was a meaningful difference between
AAT PT score averages of students who are applied structured approach and students who are applied
integrated STEM education in 6th-grade science course of middle school. When the results of AAT
conducted as PT one year after the last test, it was found that there was no significant difference
between the academic achievement levels of CG and EG. However, according to the results of the AAT
PT, the group with integrated STEM education received higher scores than the constructivist approach
group. The STEM education or constructivist approach does not influence the permanence of the
academic achievement of students. This conclusion is in parallel with AAT post-test results.
In the fourth research question, it was examined whether there was a meaningful difference
between RTSSPS PT score averages of students who are applied structured approach and students who
are applied integrated STEM education in 6th-grade science course of middle school. When the results
of RTSSPS test conducted as PT one year after are analysed, it was seen that there was no significant
difference between the CG and EG's ability to think reflective with regard to problem solving. Although
there is no significant difference, the group with integrated STEM education seems to have a higher
score than the constructivist approach group. This situation is in parallel with the results of RTSSPS pre-
test, post-test and PT.
5. Recommendations
Although in this study integrated STEM education relative to the constructivist approach did not
make a meaningful difference in terms of academic achievement, it also increased the scores more.
The longer-term use of integrated STEM training in science education can positively contribute to the
academic achievement of students. Other studies on various topics and class levels suitable for STEM
education can be conducted. It is believed that the evaluation of academic achievement with process-
oriented assessment methods will provide a clearer picture of success. Better planning of problem
solving steps can make meaningful differences in RTSPS. In this study, the effects of integrative STEM
education and constructivist approach on academic achievement and RTSPS are examined. The effects
of integrated STEM education can be investigated with different variables, on different school levels
and subject-matters. This research is limited to the middle school science curriculum and the topics
covered.
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