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Edited by Tasos Barkatsas, Nicky Carr and Grant Cooper

The second decade of the 21st century has seen governments and industry globally intensify their focus on the role of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as a vehicle for future economic prosperity. Economic opportunities for new industries that are emerging from technological advances, such as those emerging from the field of artificial intelligence also require greater capabilities in science, mathematics, engineering and technologies. In response to such opportunities and challenges, government policies that position STEM as a critical driver of economic prosperity have burgeoned in recent years. Common to all these policies are consistent messages that STEM related industries are the key to future international competitiveness, productivity and economic prosperity.
This book presents a contemporary focus on significant issues in STEM teaching, learning and research that are valuable in preparing students for a digital 21st century. The book chapters cover a wide spectrum of issues and topics using a wealth of research methodologies and methods ranging from STEM definitions to virtual reality in the classroom; multiplicative thinking; STEM in pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary education, opportunities and obstacles in STEM; inquiry-based learning in statistics; values in STEM education and building academic leadership in STEM.
The book is an important representation of some of the work currently being done by research-active academics. It will appeal to academics, researchers, teacher educators, educational administrators, teachers and anyone interested in contemporary STEM Education related research in a rapidly changing globally interconnected world.

Contributors are: Natalie Banks, Anastasios (Tasos) Barkatsas, Amanda Berry, Lisa Borgerding, Nicky Carr, Io Keong Cheong, Grant Cooper, Jan van Driel, Jennifer Earle, Susan Fraser, Noleine Fitzallen, Tricia Forrester, Helen Georgiou, Andrew Gilbert, Ineke Henze, Linda Hobbs, Sarah Howard, Sylvia Sao Leng Ieong, Chunlian Jiang, Kathy Jordan, Belinda Kennedy, Zsolt Lavicza, Tricia Mclaughlin, Wendy Nielsen, Shalveena Prasad, Theodosia Prodromou, Wee Tiong Seah, Dianne Siemon, Li Ping Thong, Tessa E. Vossen and Marc J. de Vries.

Without a Margin for Error

Urban Immigrant English Language Learners in STEM

Series:

Jeremy B. Heyman

In Without a Margin for Error, the author chronicles the journeys of young adults in an under-served urban community who are new to the English language into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-related) fields from high school through college. He distills lessons, themes, and policy recommendations from the trails blazed by these students toward altering the status quo around college access and STEM success for often-marginalized but highly resilient young adults with much to contribute to their new nation, their communities, and the world. While drawing on a critical ethnography of over three dozen inspiring young adults, seven students are chronicled in greater depth to bring to life crucial conversations for redefining college readiness, access, and success in STEM fields.

Series:

Tricia McLaughlin and Belinda Kennedy

Abstract

Whilst much of the emphasis upon stem in Australia has focussed upon the need for greater learning opportunities for students and emerging skill gaps, little attention has been directed towards the academic workforce and their capacity to deliver stem education in tertiary contexts. This chapter reports on a nationally funded Australian Government project in building capacity for academics from stem and other disciplines to engage in cross-disciplinary activities. Two of the national case studies are selected for discussion in this chapter. In these case studies, staff awareness and confidence in stem cross-disciplinary work increased, and their understanding of the value of such cross-disciplinary work for students also increased. These case studies provide one model of ensuring that academic leadership is at the forefront of stem learning in the future.

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Amanda Berry, Tricia McLaughlin and Grant Cooper

Abstract

This chapter reports a research project aimed to develop pre-service science teachers’ knowledge and understanding of contemporary stem contexts and pedagogies through participation in a stem mentoring initiative for schoolgirls. In this project, primary and secondary pre-service teachers (PSTs) volunteered to work as mentors, collaborating in the design of learning experiences suitable for school-aged girls, together with teacher educators and researchers in stem at an Australian University. Outcomes of the study focus on main themes of: PSTs’ self-perceptions as emerging stem educators, their understandings of stem and developing a pedagogy around stem, their understandings of school girls’ interest, engagement and learning in stem, and the value of the project for teachers in preparation.

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Jan H. van Driel, Tessa E. Vossen, Ineke Henze and Marc J. de Vries

Abstract

This chapter describes an approach to stem education that focuses on connecting research and design as core practices across the stem disciplines. In this approach, school-industry partnerships provide students with opportunities to acquire real world stem experiences. Collaboration between teachers, within and across schools, and with stem professionals working in local industries are an essential element in the implementation of this innovation. Consequently, schools and teachers are empowered to develop and implement a version of stem education that fits their local context, student population and resources. Research is needed to investigate the impact of this approach on the attitudes and behaviours of students, teachers and stem professionals.

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Grant Cooper and Li Ping Thong

Abstract

With the advancement of immersive virtual reality (VR) there are various possibilities with the introduction of these technologies. Preparing students to effectively navigate, contribute to, and participate in virtual environments appears to be an important set of stem-related competencies in the future. This chapter describes the VR Education Model (VEM), describing elements of this technology and its possible application in the classroom. One factor in student underachievement in stem subjects may be a heavy reliance upon textual representations at the expense of more visuo spatial representations. Therefore, the use of VR may be particularly beneficial when representing and learning about stem-related concepts. The authors envisage a number of scenarios that include but are not limited to the possibilities described in this chapter. The implementation of VR is discussed in terms of a broader stem vision that meets the unique needs and priorities of each school.

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Theodosia Prodromou and Zsolt Lavicza

Abstract

This chapter reports on the analysis of the unstructured interviews of mathematics teachers who reflected on the classroom discussions between researchers, teachers and middle school students who engaged in critical and creative thinking during solving complex and authentic problems that require students to make meanings of the data from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (stem) disciplines; promote discussions to deepen their statistical understanding; and enhance productive classroom norms for statistical inquiries. Outcomes of this research study include identification and illustration of classroom norms for statistical inquiries and facilitate students’ inquiry-based statistical learning and teachers’ planning for inquiry learning.

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Dianne Siemon, Natalie Banks and Shalveena Prasad

Abstract

Across the science, technology and engineering fields there is very little of any substance that can be achieved without the capacity to recognise, represent and reason about relationships between quantities, that is, to think multiplicatively. However, recent research has found that at least 25% and up to 55% of Australian Year 8 students are not demonstrating a capacity for multiplicative thinking. This helps explain the decline in the relative performance of Australian students on international assessments of mathematics and the significant decline in the proportion of Year 12 students undertaking the more advanced mathematics courses. But the data also reveal significant inequities in that students from low socioeconomic communities are far more likely to be represented in the 45 to 55% range than students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds who are more likely to be represented in the 25 to 35% range. This situation is untenable where the fastest growing employment opportunities require some form of stem qualification. The chapter presents evidence from two large scale research projects to make a case for focussing on identifying and responding appropriately to students’ learning needs in relation to multiplicative thinking as a key priority in stem education.