Integrated Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Curriculum and Teacher Efficacy: A Qualitative Study

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The problem is the lack of an explicit curriculum to support teacher efficacy in providing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) instruction. The need for teacher efficacy is especially salient when providing STEM instruction because STEM education remains largely undefined and sometimes lacks clear standards. This study sought to explore and understand: (a) the support teachers need from the curriculum to become efficacious in providing STEM learning experiences; (b) the role of an integrated STEM curriculum to support teacher efficacy at an international school; and (c) the responsibility of school leaders, including curriculum writers and principals, to support teacher efficacy when using an integrated STEM curriculum for instruction. Although much of the existing literature has emphasized a need for efficacious teachers in the classroom, the role of an integrated STEM curriculum in supporting teacher efficacy development is unknown. The conceptual framework developed by Kelley and Knowles, in conjunction with Bandura’s self-efficacy theory, served as the theoretical framework for the study. This study used interviews and field notes to gather data from a convenient sample of 11 teachers and six school administrators who volunteered to participate in the integrated STEM initiative at the research site. An emergent methodology was used to analyze the data to understand the experiences and the meanings teachers and administrators attributed to teaching with an integrated curriculum. The findings confirmed an integrated STEM curriculum is essential in developing teacher efficacy for teaching students STEM skills. The curriculum provided a common language for teachers and school administrators and supported teachers’ comfort with STEM instruction. Keywords: teacher efficacy, explicit curriculum, integrated STEM, localized curriculum, Sphero