A Middle School English Language Arts Teacher's Transition to Integrated, Project-Based Learning

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Dr. Stephen C. Scogin, Biology and Education

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In the past, subject integration efforts have focused primarily on coupling science with other subjects such as technology, engineering, and mathematics (i.e., STEM). However, recent initiatives seek to broaden integration of traditional STEM subjects with the fine arts (i.e., STEAM). Locally, a rural middle school has started a STREAM school program (with the “R” representing Reading) that includes the integration of STEM components, the arts, and English language arts (ELA) in a project-based learning environment. Although integrating ELA in STEM contexts offers many benefits including increased science content knowledge (Bradbury, 2014), the process can prove difficult for teachers. The purpose of this research is to investigate the trials and triumphs of an ELA teacher’s transition from educating in a traditional setting to educating in the integrated STREAM program. Using case study methodology (Yin, 2014), this study tracks the successes and challenges of an experienced teacher who transformed the traditional ELA curriculum into an integrated, project-based learning curriculum. Data were collected from interviews with the teacher and analyzed using grounded theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Furthermore, a framework was developed to describe and understand her experience.The results of this case study inform educators about the obstacles of ELA integration in STEM, and how these obstacles can be overcome.

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