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ITERNATIONAL EDUCATION CONFERENCE 2016

“MEDITERRANEAN SEA CONNECTS US: Multiple 
Dimensions in Science Education”
University of the Aegean 1 – 6 December 2016

Integrating Geography and STEM 
Education through project based 
learning: an action research with 
10th grade students
Dr. Κlonari Aik. – Associate Professor 
Department of Geography, University of the Aegean

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Contents of Presentation

 Introduction
I‐Use European Comenius Multilateral Project 
Theoretical Framework
A Case Study
 Discussion‐Conclusions 
 References

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Introduction
STEM
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
education is a crucial issue in current educational trends (Berlin &
Lee, 2005; Kuenzi, 2008; Reiss & Holman, 2007; State Educational Technology
Directors Association [SETDA], 2008). Research shows that integrative
approaches improve students’ interest and learning in STEM.
STEM learning experiences prepare students for the global
economy of the 21st century (Cachaper et al., 2008; Cullum et al., 2007;
Hynes & Santos, 2007) and students need a solid STEM knowledge to
become ready for college and employment. According to the U.S.
Department of Education (2007), 75% of the fastest growing
occupations require significant science or mathematics training.
The importance and value of STEM education have resulted in the
need for significant national reform in education and curriculum.

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Introduction
STEM
Research shows that integrative approaches improve students’
interest and learning in STEM. Integrative approaches are defined
as “approaches that explore teaching and learning between/among any
two or more of the STEM subject areas, and/or between a STEM subject
and one or more other school subjects” (Sanders, 2009, p. 21).
STEM educators have made an effort to employ the integrative
approaches with various methodologies (Apedoe et al., 2008; Cantrell et
al., 2006; Childress, 1996; Elliott et al., 2001; Everett et al., 2000; Fortus et al.,
2005; Judson & Sawada, 2000; Kolodner et al., 2003; Mehalik et al., 2008; Norton,
2007; Riskowsk et al., 2009; Roth, 2001; Sadler et al., 2000; Venville et al., 2000,
2004).
Although research on the integrative approaches among STEM
subjects has grown, there are still a number of practical challenges
(Zubrowski, 2002)
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Introduction
STEM
STEM teachers’ implementation of the integrative approaches
highly depends on their individual characteristics when accepting a
new instructional method, their perceptions toward the integrative
approach, school context, delivery methods, and so on.
That is, STEM teachers’ decision to implement integrative
approaches is associated with national curricula, educational
trends, rewards, and supports within their specific school contexts
(Rogers, 2003; Sahin, 2006; Zubrowski, 2002). As Zubrowski (2002) noted,
for successful implementation, the integrative approaches require
close collaboration among STEM teachers, STEM teachers’
commitment to the integrative approach, and administrative
support.

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Introduction
STEM and Geography
Today’s students are tomorrow’s decision makers, and an
understanding of geography and the use of geospatial technology
will be crucial to helping them make good decisions that affect
global health and community life.
Unfortunately, geography has always been sort of an “underdog”
in our educational system; it’s been misunderstood, generalized,
and sometimes ignored. Even today, as we see increased focus
on STEM in education, we frequently see geography completely
disregarded as a component of STEM.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics. Geography touches heavily on all of these
disciplines.

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Introduction
STEM and Geography
Τhe application of geospatial technology helps us to better
understanding cross‐disciplinary phenomena and solve
important problems. GIS, GPS, and remote sensing can be used
to simultaneously engage students in science, technology,
engineering, and math.
To overlook geography as a critical component of STEM flies in
the face of the goals of STEM to improve education, the work
force, and national competitiveness (Al Mamun, Jackson & White,
2015; Dangermond, 2013). The combination of STEM knowledge with
geo‐literacy—the ability to make decisions based on an
understanding of the systems and connections in the world—
prepares students to prosper in the 21st century technology‐
based economy.
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Introduction
STEM and Geography
In our modern, globally interconnected society, it is more
important than ever that people understand the world around
them.
Geo‐literacy is an essential skill for decision‐making in 21st‐century
personal, professional, and civic life. It is the ability to make
decisions based on an understanding of how the world works and
how people and places are connected. It requires an
understanding of how Earth’s interconnected human and
environmental systems function, how to reason geographically,
and how to make systematic decisions. Geo‐literacy is a natural fit
with STEM education.

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Introduction 
Project‐based learning
Current research in project‐based learning demonstrates that
projects can increase student interest in science, technology,
engineering and math (STEM), as well as in geography, because
they involve students in solving authentic problems, working with
others, focused on real‐world issues and learning to reflect on the
problem‐solving (Becker& Park, 2011; Breiner, Harkness, Johnson, Koehler,
2012; Fortus, Krajcikb, Dershimerb, Marx, & Mamlok‐Naamand, 2005).
Research tells us that students learn best when encouraged to
construct their own knowledge of the world around them (Satchwell
& Loepp, 2002) and this type of learning can occur through integrated
STEM and geography projects.

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Introduction 
Project‐based learning
PBL is not new; however, what is new is the emphasis on
Geography and STEM education and linking secondary schools with
local community problems.
PBL is not new; however, what is new is the emphasis on
Geography and STEM education and linking secondary schools with
local community problems.
Project‐Based Learning is broader than problem based learning and
often is composed of several problems students will need to solve.
It is well known that PBL provides the contextualized, authentic
experiences necessary for students to scaffold learning and build
meaningfully powerful science, technology, engineering, and
mathematics concepts supported by language arts, social studies,
geography and art.
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Introduction
STEM, PBL and Geography
Geography and STEM project based learning are both
challenging and motivating.
They require students to think critically and analytically
and enhance higher‐order thinking skills.
They require collaboration, peer communication,
problem‐solving, and self‐directed learning while
incorporating rigor for all students (Gonzalez & Kuenzi,
2014).

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i‐Use European Comenius 
Multilateral Project 
The I‐Use (European Comenius Multilateral Project) was
implemented with the support of EU’s Lifelong Learning
Programme running within the ‘Comenius Act’
framework.
The I‐Use platform was selected because deals with
data, statistical and pedagogical approaches and how
these may be applied on various subjects in curricula of
High School, while at the same time pays great attention
to the correlation of a piece of information with a visual
image and for this reason employs 2D and 3D geospatial
backgrounds.
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i‐Use platform
www.i‐use.eu

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Theoretical Framework
 In the 21st century, the age of information and technology,
Statistics proves to be more than just Mathematics or yet another
branch of applied sciences with many utility fields. Conversely, it
has been accepted in our minds as something inherent in our daily
lives.
 The rapid evolution of the 'New Technologies' (Information and
Communication Technology, ICT) lead from the traditional
approach to education to new, innovative actions which contribute
to learning and familiarizing with statistics, by students and
teachers alike.
 Combined with the use of maps and geospatial data in the context
of defining the new curricula and new pedagogical trends, the
literacy rate is even greater.
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Theoretical Framework
 Basic aim of Secondary School is the development of students’
critical thinking, analytic and synthetic competences,
environmental awareness and sustainability, imagination
and creativity, initiatives and generally active participation in
all aspects of school life and learning procedures.

 Students with opinion, reflection and interests.
 Introduction in Curricula ICTs and Research Projects (they
were established from September 2011 in 10th and 11th grade 
of Secondary School as a subject (Government Gazette 1213, 
issue B / 2011).

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Action Research
Project Based Learning
 Action research
This study is an action research, using “i‐Use” tools and
learning materials (http://www.i‐use.eu/)
Title of the Project: “Mapping the conflicts of 3rd
millennium: causes and consequences”
 Sample: 14 students (10th grade), 4 (28,6%) girls and
10 (72,4%) boys.
 Greece, Lesvos, Mytilene island (3rd Senior High
School)
 Period: 14 double hours (1st semester)
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Action Research
Project Based Learning
 Aims
The aims of this research were: 
A) students
 to explore real‐world problems and challenges developing cross
curriculum skills, while working in small groups
 to acquire a deeper knowledge and develop awareness about
conflicts in the world with particular emphasis in refugee issues
B) teacher
 to examine whether wide use of ICTs, GIS and Statistics in teaching
could invigorate students learning environment, sparking students'
desire to explore, investigate, and understand their world and
everyday life in an effective way.
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Tools
 Questionnaire (Pre‐, Post‐)/open ended and close 
questions (3 Parts)
1st part: Knowledge, 
2nd part: Attitudes/ points of view,   (quantitative research)
3rd part: ICT / Statistics competences)
 SPSS v.23
Maps 
 Presentations                 (qualitative research)
 Reports

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Material and strategies

• movie • presentations
• brainstorming • Internet/web search
• Inquiry/problem solving • maps, graphs production 
• teamwork and interpretation
• discussions • reports
• case study • i‐Use platform
• field work/interviews • lesson unit and worksheets 
• interdisciplinary  (Mapping Conflicts in the World)
statistical research • fieldwork

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Learning material
 Mapping Conflict in the world‐Unit
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1mbGRHNR0u‐WGiFN8WKCzgEFZiS‐MCpdR48JCOrM3pJg/edit#heading=h.gjdgxs

Mapping Conflict in the world‐Worksheet 1
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DvToh6PrDRiPL12rNV‐4hfGa_uCQz8Dlpi0klJjonPc/edit

Mapping Conflict in the world‐Worksheet 2
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1v7BlrTrMSRLxsit_R4TkaKvtzUTTvPThY9JE63zThxg/edit 

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Film 

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Results
Brainstorming

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Results
CSV tables

Thematic maps and charts on i‐use platform

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i‐Use maps

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Case studies
 Syria

 Afghanistan 

 Iraq

Ukraine

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Fieldwork/refugees hotspot/interviews
 experiential learning 
 Camp near the airport. This area hosted refugees with 
special problems
This activity had three stages:
preparation in the classroom before the fieldwork (prepare a 
questions in English, take roles, collect toys, etc)
activities in the field and interviews (volunteers and refugees)
discussion, feedback and assessment of the whole experience in 
the classroom

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Activities in the field (camp)
 A tour of the area by volunteer teacher
 Chatted with other volunteers and especially with an American
old woman offered her services in the kitchen
 Visited the workshop where volunteers convert lifejackets in
back bags and other useful things in order to have a small
revenue and raising awareness of the international community
 Got interviews from refugees
 Give gifts and toys to the children and played with them

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Google maps (from interviews)

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Google maps (from interviews)

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Reports and Presentations

https://prezi.com/aqzfv1xfutcl/presentation/

https://prezi.com/5edqkr9vr4vl/presentation/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K9fMUtVbiw

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Students opinion for the fieldwork

I never imagined that I would do something like that in my life….
It was something that definitely would do again, if I had the 
chance!
It was a unique experience in my life…..
This experience will be unforgettable, because not only raise my 
awareness show me clearly what is the situation with refugees…..
This experience will stay forever in my mind because I met amazing 
people, who suffer a lot, I learned about way of life in their country, 
and I realized what passed during their journey to get here ...

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Results
 The results of this study demonstrated that the
students broadened their knowledge and developed
their skills on:
 text and information processing, 
 presentation, 
 cloud computing, use of various online platforms, 
 creation of csv files, 
 literature review, writing reports and most important 
 visualization, interpreting data and map studying

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Results
 In addition
 they clarified concepts like war, conflict and genocide
 they clarified concepts like refugee, immigrant
 they focused on the causes of contemporary armed conflicts and
on their consequences
 they gave particular emphasis on the refugee issue, which raised
students’ awareness, many of which changed their points of
view.

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Definition: conflict

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Definition: war

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Definition: genocide

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Refer 3 causes of conflicts ….

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At the end of a war the loser should be strictly punished …

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Refugees have an alternative solution: stay and fight in 
their countries

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How important is for you the use of maps?

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Is Geography an important  subject? 

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Do you participate fully in all project activities? 

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The use and creation of maps helped you better 
understand the issues of conflicts nowadays?

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Could you create a digital map after all?

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In which issues your opinion changed after this project?

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Thank you for your 
attention!
a k l o n a r i @g e o . a e g e a n . g r

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