The STEAM-Active (Project Number: 2021-1-ES01-KA220-HED-000032107) project is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

Reviewing assessment of student learning in interdisciplinary STEM education

Partners' Institution
Fundacion para la Formacion Tecnica en Maquina-Herramienta
Year of publication
Educational stage
University Level
Journal name
Thematic Area
Definition and characteristics of STEAM
STEM education has received increasing attention in recent years. However, developing valid and reliable assessment of interdisciplinary learning in STEM has been a challenge. This study is a comprehensive review of assessment of interdisciplinary STEM education during the last two decades. A total of 49 empirical research articles were collected from an initial library of 635 articles focusing on interdisciplinary STEM education. A two-dimensional framework was developed to examine the literature. The first dimension concerns the nature of disciplines being assessed and includes three categories: monodisciplinary, interdiscipline, and transdiscipline. The second dimension concerns the learning objectives and includes four aspects: knowledge, skill, practice, and affective domain. The results show that most assessments focused on assessments of monodisciplinary knowledge, monodisciplinary affective domains, and transdisciplinary affective domains. Although many programs aimed to improve students' interdisciplinary understanding or skills, their assessments did not align with their aims. Based on the review, future directions are proposed for developing assessments for interdisciplinary STEM educational programs.
Relevance for Complex Systems Knowledge
- The study is carried out in the 4 disciplines by carrying out an interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary and monodisciplinary integration.
- A 19-year literature review is carried out which compiles the methods used to assess student learning with different types of integration carried out in classrooms. Due to the different interpretations of STEM education, we included “integrated”, “interdisciplinary”, and “transdisciplinary” in the searched terms. In order to expand the initial pool, we used different combinations of these terms in the title, abstract, and keywords to search for literatures in ERIC, ProQuest, as well as major STEM educational journals such as International Journal of Science Education, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, and International Journal of STEM Education.
- The assessment formats vary a great deal, ranging from traditional formats such as standardized tests to research-oriented observational methods (e.g., interviews, video analysis). The formats for monodisciplinary knowledge (MDK) and monodisciplinary affective (MDA) assessments are relatively universal across different studies whereas those for interdisciplinary knowledge and practices (IDK, IDP) are more diverse. This is intuitive as assessing content knowledge in individual disciplines has a long tradition and is relatively easier. In contrast, assessing interdisciplinary knowledge, practices, and affective domains is much more challenging and calls for innovations.
- Research on how to assess interdisciplinary learning in STEM has come a long way, but much remains to be studied. A number of suggestions are proposed in this line of research:
o - The nature of the disciplines involved and their connecting mechanisms need to be made explicit, and these connections need to be assessed to provide feedback to students.
o - The basic learning processes and practices should be coherent with the learning objectives and assessments should be made according to these learning objectives.
o - Priority should be given to the development of practical assessment tools and guidelines for classroom use.

None of the points mentioned here are addressed. A literature review interpretation of the assessment of students when applying STEM education in the classroom has been carried out
Point of Strength
An article analyzing assessment in interdisciplinary teaching processes through bibliographic review.
Interdisciplinary STEAM education, Assessments, Dimensions
Creative Commons License
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