Managing STEM learning: A typology and four models of integration

Yin Cheong CHENG, Wing Mui Winnie SO

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To develop a framework for conceptualizing and managing integration in STEM learning, that can help address key issues in its research and implementation worldwide.

Design/methodology/approach: Integration in learning is a complicated but not a well-defined concept and therefore it is difficult to illustrate in theory and practice how to conceptualize, manage and implement integrated STEM learning with aims to enhance students' learning effectiveness and multiple-thinking ability. Based on a typology in integrated learning, this article re-conceptualizes integrated STEM learning into a comprehensive framework of three categories, six subcategories and four basic models. With this framework, how to manage integrated STEM learning and related issues in schools for effectiveness are discussed.

Findings: As a typology, integration in STEM learning can be classified as content integration, pedagogical integration and learner integration. They can be further differentiated as six subcategories: subject integration, domain integration, method integration, cognitive integration, SEN integration and diverse ability integration in STEM learning. Depending on the extents of content integration and pedagogical integration, four basic models of integrated learning can be identified in theory and practice. The categories, subcategories and basic models have their own characteristics, strengths and limitations. Strategies are developed to address the characteristics and related key issues of each category of STEM learning.

Research limitations/implications: The framework may help to analyze the key issues of integrated STEM learning in research and development, such as “Why and what integration in STEM learning is important and necessary in curriculum reforms for the future?”, “How the integrated STEM approach is different from the traditional subject approach?”, “How the STEM learning activities can be integrated and managed effectively for enhancing students' learning effectiveness and multiple thinking capacity?”, and “What key implications can be drawn for managing and implementing STEM learning?”

Practical implications: Based on the proposed typology and models of STEM learning, various strategies of managing STEM are discussed and developed, which will contribute to policy formulation and professional practice of integrated STEM learning locally and internationally.

Originality/value: The proposed typology and models of STEM learning and related new ideas and perspectives will contribute to future research and development in this area locally and internationally. Copyright © 2020 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1078
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Management
Issue number6
Early online dateMar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Cheng, Y. C., & So, W. W. M. (2020). Managing STEM learning: A typology and four models of integration. International Journal of Educational Management, 34(6), 1063-1078. doi: 10.1108/IJEM-01-2020-0035


  • STEM education
  • STEM learning
  • Integrated learning
  • Integrated STEM learning
  • Multiple thinking
  • Paradigm shift in learning


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