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Table 5 Summary of nature of integration and curricular coherence by CFG category

From: Understanding coherence and integration in integrated STEM curriculum

  Conceptual integration Contextual integration Curricular coherence
Coherent science unit with loosely connected EDC Science and mathematics concepts are rarely needed for design decisions • Bookended the unit - introduced in the first lesson and returned for a culminating activity.
• Science content sometimes used to provide context about EDC.
• Disciplinary coherence across science lessons.
• Disconnect between science and engineering lessons.
Engineering design-focused unit with limited connections to science content Science and mathematics concepts sometimes needed for design decisions. • Always present when conceptual integration is present.
• Weakly present through verbal reminders about the client’s needs when conceptual integration is lacking.
• Science content sometimes used to provide context about EDC.
• Overall coherence provided by EDC storyline (through client) and EDP.
• Science lessons are often disruptive to curricular coherence
Engineering design unit with science content as context Science concepts are never needed for design decisions Science provided context for understanding the real-world problem addressed by the EDC. • Overall coherence provided by EDC storyline (through client) and EDP.
• Science lessons are often disruptive to curricular coherence
Integrated and coherent STEM unit • Frequent, strong connections between science and mathematics concepts and the EDC.
• Science and mathematics concepts are necessary for making design decisions.
Occurred throughout the unit with explicit connections to the client and the EDC to motivate learning of science and mathematics concepts • Overall coherence provided by EDC storyline (through client) and EDP.
• Science lessons are occasionally disruptive to curricular coherence