School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Kevin Struble


STEM, STEM-focused education, inquiry-based learning


Curriculum and Instruction | Education


The following is a dissertation looking to address the impact of STEM-focused education on fifth-grade standardized test scores in mathematics and science. STEM education has become such an integral part of American education in recent years, and its importance continues to extend beyond the research available. The purpose of this quantitative study is to examine the effects of a STEM-focused education on the standardized test scores of students in fifth grade. Convenience sampling was employed, with matching, to collect data from four classes of fifth grade students, totaling 226 students, from a rural school district. The 2019 Virginia Standards of Learning assessments in math and science for fifth grade only were used as the data for the study. The researcher chose a causal comparative research design, as this lends itself well to research aimed at finding a cause-and-effect relationship. Archival data was used to address the research question, and MANOVA was chosen as the statistical test for analysis of the data. Data showed a significant difference between STEM-focused schools and schools with a traditional math science curriculum, F(2, 223) = 8.289, p < .0005; Wilks’ Ʌ = .931; partial ɳ2 = .069, with the traditional schools having higher scores in both math and science on those standardized tests. While this study did not show a positive impact of STEM education on standardized test scores, many factors were addressed, including the variability of implementation of STEM education, longevity of programs, and lack of a clear definition of STEM education. Recommendations for future research include varied populations of students and mixed methods studies that could include the impact of STEM education on mathematical and scientific interest and confidence.