The Importance of STEM Education in the Elementary Grades: Learning from Pre-service and Novice Teachers’ Perspectives
We seek to understand how pre-service and novice teachers view the importance of STEM education in the elementary grades. A sample of prospective and early career elementary teachers was surveyed using an anonymous online questionnaire. The questionnaire asked for demographic information and this prompt: “Is STEM education important at the elementary level? Why or why not?” A constant comparative approach was used to analyze responses to provide insights about respondents’ beliefs. We found that all participants responded that yes, STEM education was important at the elementary years, but that several themes emerged when considering reasons given, and that the types of responses given varied in terms of subject and complexity when comparing responses by respondents’ second major. These findings paint an initial picture of what future elementary STEM instruction might look like, insofar as teachers’ beliefs can influence instructional choices. Additionally, these findings may have implications for teacher educators and for pre- and in-service teacher education.