Teaching Matters 2020 | Presentation Details | 2 December 20202 Dec 2020
Coordinate and connect rather than divide and segregate! Academics’ perspectives on STEM
- Vesife Hatisaru, School of Education, CALE
- Sharon Fraser, School of Education, CALE*
- Andrew Seen, School of Natural Sciences, CoSE*
STEM education is generally defined as the teaching and learning practices that connect the learning objectives of STEM subjects through open-ended, realistic, and interdisciplinary problems. Despite the prominent role that university academics have taken in progressing STEM initiatives, little is known of their understandings about STEM as a ‘connecting rather than segregating’ approach. The study reported here is part of the Investigating Academics’ Perspectives on STEM project, which aims to explore the perspectives of academics at UTAS on STEM education. Participants comprised fifteen academics from across CALE and CoSE who attended one of two project workshops. Data were collected through Draw a STEM Learning Environment (D-STEM) instrument. We report on the academics’ views drawn from their responses to: “STEM is ...” and “An educator of STEM knows ...”.
The results suggest that some academics regard STEM as “an important part of understanding the world and making it better”, and believe that educators of STEM know “about each of the big ideas in each discipline”; revealing a view of educators of STEM as experts; not only in one single subject but in multiple content areas. Several other participants defined STEM as simply the individual content areas of “science, technology, engineering, and mathematics”, and indicated that educators of STEM know “the scientific method”.
The study contributes to the discussions on how to best assist academics to view STEM as a way of forming connections in their teaching – e.g., connecting concepts and disciplines, disciplines and real-life issues, and professionals and industry/community members. The D-STEM instrument provides an engaging and non-threatening approach to initiating conversations about STEM. The rich discussion that emerges from the comparison of each other’s representations and the reasoning behind them, is a powerful first step in the reimagining of teaching pedagogies and student learning activities.
The Investigating Academics’ Perspectives on STEM project is funded by the University of Tasmania the College of Arts, Law and Education (CALE) Hothouse Research Enhancement Program. We acknowledge the contribution to the project of team member Noleine Fitzallen.