Stimulating creativity and critical thinking in integrated STEM education: The contribution of out-of-school activities.
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This chapter describes how effective integrated curricula with an out-of-school component encourage students to develop their STEM understanding and skills in at least three ways. First, by testing the disciplinary knowledge they have learned in real-world, authentic contexts, students come to appreciate that good understanding requires balance; that disciplinary knowledge must be complemented with interdisciplinary or integrated knowledge. Second, by investigating issues outside of the classroom, students experience a sense of the “bigger picture”, enabling them to see how what they have learned can contribute to STEM-related issues beyond their classroom. Third, when students work on issues that are important to the local community and face matters relating to social values and diversity, they have opportunities to develop their senses of social and ecojustice. Three research-based examples of integrated STEM learning are analysed in terms of the OECD dimensions of creativity and critical thinking – inquiring, imagining, doing, reflecting – to illustrate how guiding students to interact with local, place-based, or community issues can benefit not only their creativity and critical thinking, but enhance their skills of communication and collaboration.
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