American Journal of Educational Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-6126 ISSN (Online): 2327-6150 Website: Editor-in-chief: Ratko Pavlović
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American Journal of Educational Research. 2014, 2(10), 862-875
DOI: 10.12691/education-2-10-4
Open AccessCase Study

21st Century Curriculum Change Initiative: A Focus on STEM Education as an Integrated Approach to Teaching and Learning

Kimberly Barcelona1,

1Department of Defense Educational Activity, Fort Rucker Alabama, United States of America

Pub. Date: September 26, 2014

Cite this paper:
Kimberly Barcelona. 21st Century Curriculum Change Initiative: A Focus on STEM Education as an Integrated Approach to Teaching and Learning. American Journal of Educational Research. 2014; 2(10):862-875. doi: 10.12691/education-2-10-4


The objective of this paper is to apply Kotter’s 8-Stage Process for Change in transforming traditional school organizationsinto models for 21st century instruction and explore research that suggests the change process was effectively implemented in order to improve student achievement. This paper is developed through inquiry and research that describes a course of action for a change initiative to enrich curricula and meet a vision for competency-based curricular reform. Two analyses were conducted including (1) review of literature and statistics driving the need for curricular reform and (2) a qualitative analyses of data collection from studies conducted on schools which instituted curricular reform to develop interdisciplinary curricula in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Analyzing and using the statistics and data from school systems in the state of Maine, which have made changes in their curricula and instructional methods, allows for critical review of the success of the change process. Results reveal that curriculum reform in the areas of STEM that creates a shift towards a more integrated approach in curriculum design has improved student achievement. Improving curriculum and instruction would be a hollow gesture without identifying and reviewing the research that suggests the use and application of the principles from John Kotter’s 8-Stage Process for Change outlined in his book Leading Changewas applied to deeply root successful change. Curriculum reform is a response to the growing need for educating future innovators that can continue to keep our world moving forward. Kotter’s first step to creating change begins with a sense of urgency and currently we have a wealth of studies that are conducted that speak loudly to our society that we must focus on curriculum that involves students in problem solving challenges and innovative thinking activities to prepare them for the needs our society today and in the future. The educational system we have today is a product of the industrial age and was organized like an assembly line to produce a standardized product, which was considered the educated. At the time, it fit the needs of businesses. It is time that we begin asking what skills we will need our learners to know in the next twenty years. Engineers work in teams to solve large, complex problems and educational systems lack necessary skill building activities to foster what industries will need for the future success of our global society (Senge, 2014). As our economy moves from a manufacturing-based economy to, an information and service-based economy, the demand for a workforce well educated in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is growing. Unfortunately, the number of students who choose STEM fields continues to decline (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009; Galloway, 2008; National Research Council Committee on Science, Engineering Education Reform, 2006; Mooney & Laubach, 2002). As such, there is a great need to spark interest among our K-12 youth in STEM, and to develop and facilitate quality engineering experiences for K-12 students (National Science Board, 2003; Frantz, DiMiranda & Siller, 2011) (Table 1).

21st century learning curriculum STEM education problem solving teaching

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