Inclusive iSTeM Education is the purposeful design of integrative STEM (iSTeM) curriculum, assessment, and instruction to meet the needs of all learners and increase access to STEM careers for people with disabilities.
Integrative STEM (iSTeM) Education is a standards-based metadiscipline in which all teachers, especially Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (the “STEM” in iSTeM) teachers, use an integrated, inquiry-oriented approach to teaching and learning. iSTeM teaching and learning are grounded in authentic content and problems, using hands-on, technological tools, equipment, and procedures in innovative ways to address human wants and needs. iSTeM education uses inquiry-based, peer led, and project-based learning to build students’ understanding of the impact Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math have on their world as they prepare to compete in the global workforce.
Integrated STEM is not intended as a stand-alone subject and already present challenges for teachers to implement effectively. Including students with disabilities can be even more daunting. Inclusive iSTeM draws upon and incorporates research-based best practices and organizes them into a framework for preventing STEM failure. By developing models for teaching and learning about innovation, integration, inclusion, and collaboration, Inclusive iSTeM is uniquely poised to meet the needs of teachers and students seeking truly inclusive and integrative programs of study in STEM Education.
Inclusive iSTeM is based on the following principles:
- Project-Based Learning is hands-on and high interest – a highly motivating instructional practice for all students and particularly those with special needs.
- It is necessary for explicit connections to be made between content areas, especially the practical applications of math and science in the context of solving engineering problems.
- Integration is driven by merged/transactional practice.
- Instruction is driven by assessment and must be differentiated to meet the individual needs of learners – project-based learning is an ideal model for this.
- Multiple means of engagement, action and representation, and expression are necessary for meeting the needs of all learners.
- Inclusive practice benefits all students, not only those with special needs.