Opening up pathways: Engagement in stem across the Primary-Secondary school transition icon

Opening up pathways: Engagement in stem across the Primary-Secondary school transition


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Opening up pathways:
Engagement in STEM across the Primary-Secondary school transition



A review of the literature concerning supports and barriers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics engagement at Primary-Secondary transition.

Commissioned by the Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations


June, 2008

FINAL REPORT


Writing team:

Professor Russell Tytler, Deakin University

Professor Jonathan Osborne, Kings College London

Dr. Gaye Williams, Deakin University

Dr. Kristen Tytler, Deakin University

Dr. John Cripps Clark, Deakin University

With support from:

Dr Anthony Tomei, Nuffield Foundation, London

Associate Professor Helen Forgasz, Monash University

Table of contents


Table of contents i

List of figures v

Opening up pathways: Executive summary viii

1 Introduction 1

1.1 Background to this review 1

1.2 Methodology of the review 3

1.3 Overview of concerns about STEM supply and demand 4

1.3.1 The Australian picture 6

1.3.2 STEM occupations and STEM capacity building 8

1.3.3 Pathways into STEM 11

2 Supply and Demand 13

2.1 Current and anticipated needs for STEM workers 13

2.1.1 Demand 16

2.1.2 Globalisation, supply and demand 18

2.1.3 Supply 19

2.2 Education and STEM 20

2.2.1 Graduate employment in STEM occupations 20

2.2.2 Trends in Tertiary STEM participation 22

2.2.3 Secondary mathematics 25

2.2.4 Secondary science 27

2.2.5 Secondary technology 28

2.2.6 VET pathways 28

2.3 Teacher quality and teacher supply issues 31

3 Student learning and engagement with mathematics 34

3.1 Middle Years research 34

3.2 Background to mathematics teaching and learning today 35

3.2.1 Social interaction 36

3.2.2 Inclination to explore 36

3.3 The engaged to learn model 37

3.4 Engagement in mathematical problem solving 40

3.4.1 Inclination to explore (resilience or optimism) 40

3.4.2 Opportunities to find mathematical complexities within tasks 42

3.4.3 Intellectual quality 43

3.4.4 Developing mathematical understandings 44

3.4.5 Stimulating pedagogical change 44

3.4.6 Summary 45

3.5 Mathematics transition across the primary-secondary divide 45

3.5.1 Shifts in Approach from Year to Year 45

3.5.2 Achievement across the transition Years 47

3.5.3 Problem solving and mathematical rigour 51

3.6 Denied STEM opportunities 51

3.6.1 Streaming / tracking / setting perpetuates disadvantage 51

3.6.2 Unethical pressures to raise school results 53

3.6.3 Diminished career opportunities for lower track students 53

3.6.4 Implications of findings about streaming / tracking / setting 53

3.6.5 Inequities associated with gender 54

3.6.6 Opening opportunities: Summary 55

3.7 How to engage to learn mathematics at 14-16 years 56

3.8 Focusing professional learning on mathematics pedagogy 57

4 Student learning and engagement with science 59

4.1 Background to science teaching and learning today 59

4.1.1 Attitudes to school science 60

4.2 Science transition across the primary-secondary divide 63

4.2.1 Science in primary schools 63

4.2.2 Science and the middle years of schooling 64

4.2.3 Approaches to transition 65

4.3 Expanding the focus of science teaching and learning 66

4.3.1 Student conceptions and conceptual change 66

4.3.2 Inquiry based curricula 67

4.3.3 Scientific literacy 68

4.3.4 Science in context 69

4.3.5 Expanding the voices that speak to school science 69

4.4 Responding to the changing nature of science and society 71

4.4.1 The changing nature of science and public engagement with science 71

4.4.2 The resilience of traditional school science 72

4.5 Student engagement with science 74

4.5.1 Determinants of student attitudes to science 74

4.5.2 The influence of teachers and school resources 76

4.5.3 Young people’s attitude to science 80

4.5.4 Accounting for these findings – identity in late modern society 83

5 Making sense of student pathways 88

5.1 Choice and Identity 88

5.1.1 Point of choice, and pathways 88

5.1.2 Identity 92

5.1.3 Gender 95

5.1.4 Indigeneity 99

5.1.5 Cultural capital 100

5.1.6 Student aspirations and decision-making 102

5.1.7 Indicators of success in STEM 106

5.2 Teachers and teaching 110

5.2.1 Who is teaching science? 112

5.2.2 Who is teaching mathematics? 113

5.2.3 Teacher training and professional learning 118

5.3 Mathematics and science 119

5.4 Assessment in school science and mathematics 122

5.5 Career guidance 123

5.5.1 Career expectations and advice 123

5.5.2 Knowledge of careers 127

5.5.3 Enrichment and enhancement initiatives 131

6 Themes, findings and implications 136

6.1 Points of intervention 136

6.1.1 Science and mathematics in the primary school 138

6.1.2 Transition to secondary school 139

6.1.3 Student pathways 140

6.2 Participation in STEM as an identity issue 141

6.3 Curriculum and pedagogy 144

6.3.1 The need to cater for diversity 144

6.3.2 Curriculum content and pedagogy that builds success 144

6.3.3 Strands in the national statements for learning 145

6.3.4 Assessment 145

6.3.5 Pedagogy 146

6.4 Linking students with contemporary STEM practice 147

6.5 Teacher recruitment and teacher learning 149

6.5.1 Teacher recruitment and retention 149

6.5.2 Teacher quality and teacher learning 150

References 151

Appendices 152

Appendix 1: Consultations 152

Appendix 2: Employment Data 153

Appendix 3: Enrichment and enhancement initiatives 160

Service learning 161

Pollen and European initiatives 162

The involvement of professional peak bodies 162

Competitions and awards 163



^

List of figures


Figure 1.1: Diagram of the STEM education pipeline 6

Figure 2.2: Demand for professional engineering occupations by State/Territory, Australia, July 2006 14

Figure 2.3: Selected skilled vacancies, Australia, April 2008 15

Figure 2.4 : R&D expenditure as a per cent of GDP, 2002 -2003, OECD counties 19

^ Figure 2.5 : Unemployment Rate by Field of Study, 2006. 21

Figure 2.6: Science & Engineering Degrees as a percentage of new degrees, 2004. 24

Figure 2.7: Trends in Australian Year 12 mathematics enrolments, 1995 - 2004 26

Figure 2.8: Trends in Year 12 participation rates in science subjects in Australian schools. 27

Figure 2.9: Course enrolments in science and technology in VET as percentage of all course enrolments, by field of study, 1996–2001. 30

Figure 2.10: Proportion of students undertaking STEM subjects in Education degrees, 1991-2000 32

Figure 3.11: The Engaged to Learn Model (Williams, 2000, 2005): Diagrammatic representation of conditions for flow and other affective states during the learning of mathematics 38

^ Figure 4.12: Teacher perceptions of student attitudes to science 61

Figure 4.13: Data from the ROSE study showing students' responses to the question ‘I like school science better than most other school subjects’. Percentage answering Agree plus Strongly agree, by gender. 75

^ Figure 4.14: School principals’ reports on vacant science teaching positions and their perceptions of the supply of qualified science teachers 78

Figure 4.15: Percentage of students agreeing or strongly agreeing with the following statements 81

Figure 4.16: Selected results from the 2006 PISA study of Australian students’ attitudes towards science. 82

Figure 4.17: Results from the 2006 PISA study showing aspects of students’ attitudes towards science and science-related careers. 82

^ Figure 4.18: Selected findings of Australian students’ attitudes towards environmental issues from the 2006 PISA study. 82

Figure 4.19: Mean responses to the stimulus item ‘school science has opened my eyes to new and exciting jobs’ 85

Figure 4.20: Mean Responses to the composite variable ‘future science studies and job’ by different groups. 85

Figure 5.21: Sources of interest in science for scientists and graduate students in science 89

^ Figure 5.22: Model of social cognitive career theory 104

Figure 5.23: What variables predict students choices to pursue mathematics courses or a mathematics career? The numbers in brackets are values of R2 for each item. 105

Figure 5.24: What variables predict students choices to pursue science courses or a science career? The numbers in brackets are values of R2 for each item. 106

Figure 5.25: Highest qualification held by Year 12 mathematics, science and technology teachers by school sector. 115

^ Figure 5.26: Local government areas where government secondary schools are finding it difficult to fill mathematics vacancies 2004-2006. 116

Figure 5.27: Age profile of Victorian Government mathematics teachers, 1995 & 2006 117

Figure 5.28: Work people do in science, engineering and technology 126

Figure 5.29: Engagement of student interest in STEM 131

Figure 5.30: Lifelong and lifewide learning in science (and mathematics) — the relative opportunities for informal learning 132

Figure 6.31: Factors influencing engagement with STEM at different stages of schooling. 137

^ Figure 6.32: Identity, interest and self efficacy in relation to school science and mathematics 143







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