STEM in Context

Academic members:

The research program aims to respond to the following broad research questions, with specific projects addressing pertinent sub-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?

While this research program will focus on the unique needs of the Western Sydney region, the problem of STEM disengagement is an issue of international significance. The findings from this research program will be of interest nationally and internationally, as issues related to STEM education, for example, the under-representation of girls in some fields, is an issue for all Western countries. This research program will build on and support the impact of existing projects being undertaken by the research team and will allow for the establishment of three new projects.

Current projects:
  1. Western STELR (partnered with NSW Department of Education, Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE), Institute of Education at University College London (IoE-UCL)): This project aims to increase the relevance of science teaching in 10 Western Sydney schools by leveraging STELR materials (ATSE) and the Science Capital Teaching Approach (IoE-UCL). [Holmes, Berger, Mackenzie]
  2. Sydney Metro (partnered with Transport for NSW and local schools): This project is exploring 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]
  3. ScratchMaths (partnered with IoE-UCL, University of Newcastle and local schools): This project (piloted in late 2017) involves the use of ScratchMaths (IoE-UCL) materials for professional development of Stage 3 teachers to enable the teaching of mathematics and computational thinking. [Holmes, Berger]
  4. Teaching mathematics with technology. Assoc Prof Attard and Prof Holmes are currently gathering observational, focus group and interview data in schools across the country to inform the writing of a Routledge book, contracted for delivery of the final manuscript in July 2019. [Attard, Holmes]
  5. The Western Sydney STEM curriculum project takes inspiration from the London Curriculum(opens in a new window) 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]
  6. 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]
  7. 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]
New projects in 2019:
  1. $29,000 was secured from the Northrop Grunman Foundation for an extension of the Young People in Science project. The new project InFUSE: Increasing Female Uptake in STEM Education will commence in 2019. [Holmes, Mackenzie, Berger, Tieu]
  2. $62,850 was secured from Transport for NSW 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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