Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Arts




DeCoito, Isha


This study analyzes the engagement of students with SENs when a STEM Project Based Learning ( STEM PBL) method of teaching was implemented. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected to ascertain students’ and the teacher’s perspectives of STEM subjects, understanding and engagement in a STEM PBL approach, and changes in STEM skills. The results revealed that students had improved perceptions of some STEM subjects after the study. Results also showed that students were academically successful, engaged, and enjoyed the STEM PBL environment. Some STEM skills, both the teacher and students, improved throughout the study. The teacher showed improvements in some perceptions related to STEM and his ability to teach using STEM PBL, despite not having prior experience. This study demonstrated the positive impacts of using a STEM PBL approach when teaching students with SENs, and the possibilities for teacher development when employing this technique.

Summary for Lay Audience

The study conducted focused on using a teaching approach whereby Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields are integrated in a Project-Based Learning (PBL) framework. The students in the study have special education needs (SENs); most with anxiety. The teacher was not familiar with the STEM PBL approach. In this approach, students are given projects with well-defined outcomes and tasks that can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Students are creative in their approach and learn important real-world skills while completing activities and learning content. This study collected different data including student work, class observations, surveys, interviews, and attendance. The study found that students were successful when learning in a STEM PBL format. They enjoyed themselves more and worked harder in class. The teacher was successful teaching through this method and due to the success, he intends to use it again. Students and the teacher improved their STEM skills, and students improved some of their perceptions of STEM subjects. Moving forward, more schools and teachers can be confident in the various benefits for teaching students through a progressive approach, specifically STEM PBL.