Reasoning at the Intersection of Science and Mathematics in Elementary School A Systematic Literature Review

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Liam Quinn McCashin
P. Janelle McFeetors
Mijung Kim


Despite efforts to integrate science and mathematics learning in elementary school through carefully designed activities, students’ cognitive processes remain relatively untapped as a possible place of intersection. We believe reasoning is a productive co-curricular concept that could lead to meaningful integration. We conducted a systematic literature review of empirical research published over the past 20 years on students’ reasoning in both science education and mathematics education. Articles were summarized and examined for their: (1) methodological approach and experimental design; (2) social dimension in the classroom; (3) definition of reasoning and associated structures; and, (4) evidence of students’ engagement in reasoning. For each theme, relationships between scientific and mathematical reasoning research were examined for the purposes of finding intersections and discrepancies between the two subject areas. As a result, we suggest the term, STEM reasoning, that embodies the core reasoning skills and thought processes across both subject areas as an authentic approach to integrating elementary school science and mathematics learning.

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Research / Empirical
Author Biographies

Liam Quinn McCashin, University of Alberta

Quinn McCashin is a doctoral student in technology education studies at the University of Alberta.

P. Janelle McFeetors, University of Alberta

Janelle McFeetors is an associate professor of elementary mathematics education at the University of Alberta.

Mijung Kim, University of Alberta

Mijung Kim is a professor of elementary science education at the University of Alberta.