Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


Curriculum and Instruction

Committee Director

Kristie Gutierrez

Committee Member

Demetrice Smith-Mutegi

Committee Member

James K. Ferri


Within traditional secondary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, students in the United States and many other nations are taught and assessed in discipline-specific silos through separately required standards and skills. The integration of curriculum across the STEM disciplines is essential to increase student learning and create relevance in the classroom, yet teachers find this approach to be challenging due to the lack of resources and traditional training methods. In Spring 2023, the CReST (Culturally Relevant STEM) research team conducted a mixed methods study in a mid-Atlantic US high school using a uniquely designed transdisciplinary and culturally relevant six-instructional day intervention that leveraged a cultural artifact as an intersection across multiple disciplines (Chemistry, World History, Engineering). The participants included three high school chemistry teachers and 171 high school Chemistry students.

The purpose of this study was to understand how teacher and student participation in a transdisciplinary and culturally relevant STEM curriculum professional development and classroom intervention influenced instructional practices and high school students’ academic performance and learning experiences. To address this holistically, two articles were written that focus on the different populations, teachers and students. Using Desimone’s Framework for Professional Development, the first article utilized a case study approach to describe three Chemistry teachers’ experiences associated with international professional development and transferability of their gained knowledge into their classrooms. The second article employed a mixed methods approach to examine the Chemistry students’ knowledge across multiple disciplines (Chemistry, World History, Engineering) and their experiences engaging in the CReST intervention. Both articles applied a modified version of Leung’s Interactive Framework for STEM Pedagogy and Ladson-Billing’s Culturally Relevant Pedagogy Framework to guide the research. The major implication of this research is that it provides an example of how a transdisciplinary, culturally relevant international professional development and support curriculum can leverage cultural heritage in high school chemistry classes to create teacher and student engagement and empowerment in the field of STEM. By leveraging a boundary crossing object, such as an artifact, as a point of intersection between multiple disciplines, students can find relevance and explore cultural competence, while also increasing their academic performance.


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