Breaking the boundaries: from innovation to practice in STEM teacher education

Marina Milner-Bolotin, Dina Tsybulsky, Svetlana Chachashvili-Bolotin

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Israel and Canada face similar challenges. Our societies depend on innovative forward-looking thinking that breaks traditional disciplinary boundaries and defies conventional subject borders and practices. This realization prompted educators, researchers, and policy makers to emphasize multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary pedagogical approaches in the K-12 education. This is especially relevant to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. While the students should acquire subject-specific STEM core concepts, ideas, and practices, equally important is student ability to integrate them to solve real life problems facing our societies. As a result, in recent decades in Israel and Canada, the concept of STEM education has gradually entered both the curricular documents and K-12 schools. However, education researchers and practitioners are yet to reach a consensus about the essence of STEM education and effective teacher education practices. Paradoxically, the traditional subject boundaries in teacher education today are as strong as ever. If we want to educate the next generation of citizens who will be able to think innovatively, we have to educate teachers who are motivated and capable to break the traditional subject boundaries and embrace a holistic STEM paradigm in their teaching practices. In this paper, we propose an innovative pedagogical approach for teacher education that can facilitate the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary STEM teaching and learning. We will also show how this pedagogical approach can be adapted to two different teacher education contexts relevant to both Israel and Canada. Our approach has three steps: (a) future STEM teachers engage in inquiry projects that require the use of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary concepts, ideas, and practices; (b) they collaborate on designing lessons that incorporate this approach in their teaching practice; (c) future STEM teachers implement their lessons during the school practicum and reflect on these lessons with their mentors and peers. This three-step approach allows future STEM teachers to experience this innovative pedagogy first as learners and then to implement it as teachers. Only after future teachers will experience the effect of breaking the traditional STEM subject boundaries will they be ready to embrace this pedagogy as 21st century educators.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 22 May 2019


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