Engaging with STEM

Academic members:

The Engaging with STEM Research Program, dedicated to enhancing engagement with STEM subjects, addresses the following broad research questions:

  1. What are the individual, school, and community factors that influence STEM engagement in the Western Sydney context?
  2. How can student engagement and participation in STEM be improved in Western Sydney schools and beyond?

The problem of STEM disengagement is an issue of international significance. Under-representation of girls in STEM subjects, for example, is an issue across many countries, particularly in the West. (Ref?) Therefore, while Engaging with STEM focuses on particular needs within the Western Sydney region, the findings from this research program will be relevant nationally and internationally. WSU’s Centre for Educational Research partners with government, other universities, schools and other educational institutions to achieve a body of research and practice improvement that is evidenced and actionable.

Current projects:

Inquiry-based approaches to contemporary issues

Sydney Metro (partnered with Transport for NSW and local schools): This project explores the effectiveness of inquiry-based units of work based on aspects of the Sydney Metro construction. The Sydney Metro is the largest infrastructure program currently under construction in Australia. [Attard, Berger]

Maths pedagogy –use of technology during COVID-19

Teaching mathematics with technology. Assoc Prof Attard and Prof Holmes are currently researching the use of technology during the COVID-19 lockdowns where teachers and students were forced to engage in distance learning. This work builds on their recently published book, Technology-infused Mathematics Education: Optimising Student Engagement and employs their Technology Integration Pyramid (TIP) as an analytical framework for data collected on the use of technology during the Covid-19 distance learning period.

Enriching curriculum with local context

The Western Sydney STEM curriculum project takes inspiration from the London Curriculum and seeks to build curriculum resources designed to educate students about STEM through a focus on the Western Sydney region. We aim to work with local teachers, councils, government agencies, and industry partners to bring STEM in Western Sydney to life through the production of curriculum resources, linked to NSW syllabus documents. [Holmes, Attard, Berger, Mackenzie]

Self-belief as a driver in choosing STEM

Young People in Science: this study seeks to examine the role of individual differences and social processes in students’ intentions to study science in Years 11 and 12. Specifically, it will test a hypothesised model in which factors such as implicit beliefs about ability in science, self-efficacy, and perceived support influences engagement through satisfaction of autonomy, competence, and belonging in Science classrooms. In turn, satisfaction of the three basic needs is hypothesised to influence intentions to study Science in Years 11 and 12. [Mackenzie, Berger, Holmes]

Preschool to university: Maintaining STEM engagement

STEM transitions: this study will draw on expertise in the ENIGMA research group to examine the impact of educational transitions across the lifespan. The transitions from pre-school to school, primary to secondary school, and secondary school to university/TAFE/workforce can all act as barriers and risks for further STEM engagement and this project will seek to understand how to minimise these risks to enhance STEM participation. [Attard, Holmes, Berger, Mackenzie]

Getting girls into STEM

Thanks to generosity of the Northrop Grunman Foundation, this project is an extension of the Young People in Science project. The new project InFUSE: Increasing Female Uptake in STEM Education commenced in 2019, and the online resources being developed will be available soon. [Holmes, Mackenzie, Berger, Tieu]

Parramatta Light Rail: creating inquiry-based units for teachers

With funding from Transport for NSW, this curriculum project aims to design, implement and evaluate inquiry-based units of work based upon the Parramatta Light Rail project. The project will include a professional development course and a formal research evaluation of the design and implementation of the units of work that will be produced by the participating teachers. [Attard, Berger]

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