STEAM Education

Research to STEAM up the 21st Century Education


Science and mathematics education is emphasized worldwide. Reports from large-scale international studies such as TIMSS and PISA continually rank U.S. students behind many other nations. As a result, the U.S. has increased its emphasis on the implementation of a more extensive curriculum in K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM).

IPERC sponsors a wide range of education research in K-12 schools through our collaborating partners at the Ohio State University. The research has been emphasizing on the discovery and implementation of new education methods and pedagogy to enhance the 21st century teaching and learning in K-12 schools. It is our mission for IPERC as a community to promote high quality and practical research to transform our classrooms and to support 21st Century Education through effective and systemic integration of education innovations, inquiry based curriculum, formative and constructive assessment, education technology, professional development & teacher training, and effective STEAM outreach.

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Our research is aligned with the 21st Century Education Framework (www.p21.org), and contributes to the knowledge, literature, and technology for widespread adoption and implementation of education innovations that develop 21st century skills among students and teachers.

For more information about our research endeavors, please refer to the following research websites and publication links:

Educational innovations emphasize the need for a prepared 21st century workforce, which translates into students learning not only science content, but also acquiring advanced transferable reasoning skills. The development of these skills will better enable students to handle open-ended novel situations and design their own investigations to solve scientific, engineering, and social problems in real world.

An important component of these abilities is scientific reasoning, which broadly defined, includes the thinking and reasoning skills involved in inquiry, experimentation, evidence evaluation, inference and argumentation that support the formation and modification of concepts and theories about the natural and social world. Scientific reasoning is a general ability and methodology that is critical in enabling the successful management of real-world situations in professions beyond the classroom.

In K-12 education, the development of scientific reasoning skills has been shown to have a long-term impact on student academic achievement. Positive correlations between student scientific reasoning abilities and measures of students’ gains in learning science content have been reported. These findings support the consensus of the science education community on the need for K-12 students to develop an adequate level of scientific reasoning skills along with a solid foundation of content knowledge.

Traditionally, it is often expected that rigorous content learning in science and mathematics will help develop students’ scientific reasoning abilities; however, recent studies have shown that the traditional style of STEM education has little impact on the development of students’ scientific reasoning abilities. It is not what we teach but rather how we teach that makes a difference in student learning of higher order abilities such as scientific reasoning.

On developing scientific reasoning, research has shown that inquiry based science instruction can promote scientific reasoning abilities. Controlled studies have shown that students had higher gains on scientific reasoning abilities in inquiry classrooms over non-inquiry classrooms. On the other hand, students’ and instructors’  levels of reasoning skills can significantly impact the effectiveness of using inquiry methods in teaching and learning science courses. Therefore, in order to effectively implement inquiry based curricula, improving scientific reasoning abilities need to be highly emphasized K-12 education for both students and teachers.