A conceptual framework for assessing transdisciplinary STEM practices

Su Chi Fang, Kai Lin Yang, Szu Chun Fan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Integrated STEM education has attracted increasing attention in global educational reforms. While transdisciplinary approaches are deemed useful pedagogy for integrated STEM curriculum design, few assessment instruments are available for appraising the efficacy of teaching and learning in transdisciplinary settings. Purpose: This study proposes a framework to conceptualize the meaning of transdisciplinary STEM practices and demonstrates how the framework can be used to develop an assessment for transdisciplinary practices. Sources of evidence: The conceptual framework is contextualized in design context. The concepts of need-to-do and need-to-know are used to illustrate how design engages students in transdisciplinary practices. The need-to-do cycle includes the four design phases, whereas the need-to-know part concerns the relevant STEM knowledge applied in these phases. Knowledge-based reasoning is identified as the focused practice in transdisciplinary STEM assessments. Based on the conceptual framework, we formulate the assessment template and scoring rubrics following the four steps suggested in the principled assessment design approach. Two dimensions–the types of disciplinary knowledge and the levels of reasoning–are examined to describe students’ transdisciplinary STEM practices in a design context. An exemplary STEM assessment task on a mini-wire-controlled car is presented. Main argument: The conceptual framework proposed in this study presents one possible solution to align the goals of integrated STEM programs and their evaluation instruments. Conclusions: The assessment of transdisciplinary STEM practices can contribute to our understanding of how students apply and reason with disciplinary knowledge in transdisciplinary settings.

Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch in Science and Technological Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Assessment
  • STEM education
  • design
  • reasoning
  • transdisciplinary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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