Project Aim: to provide an opportunity to prepare and support Design and Technology, Science and Mathematics pre-service teachers (PSTs) to become STEM education leaders, and to give PSTs the skills and experience to develop sustainable school-industry partnerships during their studies at university and into their teaching careers
During each of the three phases of research, the project development provides a framework through which research is facilitated into the effectiveness, value and centrality of Industry partnerships in STEM education programs in University and school sites.
Phase 1, Curriculum Innovation Project:
The findings from the pilot project indicated that often teachers struggled to link STEM skills from a workplace to STEM subjects in the classroom. A national study conducted by the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers reinforced the State’s findings adding that there is a need to promote the teaching of maths that connects with the real world and the applications of skills in a workplace context to enhance students’ mathematical abilities. Arguably, this also applies to other STEM disciplines.
Phase 2, STEM pre-service teacher industry engagement:
The industry engagement enables Pre-service teachers from Design and Technology, Science and Mathematics to contextualize the year 8 to 12 curriculum with real world experiences and an emphasis on advanced manufacturing technologies. Pre-service teachers have the opportunity to utilize problem-based strategies and industry collaborations as the impetus for planning units of work in STEM education. The units of work will be informed by the Australian Curriculum; Technologies, Science and Mathematics. Pre-service teachers are supported by University of South Australia teaching staff to develop units of work that provide a strong focus on the practice of STEM, through adopting a pedagogy that is inquiry and problem based.
The range of sites reflect the diversity of industries that support South Australia’s economic growth to also include industries associated with food and textile production. The Department of State Development sourced placements for this phase with twenty secondary pre-service teachers, five companies and at least two University of South Australia lecturers.
PSTs stated that they had a clearer understanding of the connections between Science, Mathematics and Technology. Additional outcomes included developing collaborative and team working skills and increased self-confidence.
Projects involving industry partnerships need to be structured and well-organised, but flexible enough to deal with the complexity and demands of each industry.
Positive outcomes of industry placements for PSTs included: an increased awareness of industrial processes and links to STEM; improved connection between the industry and the school curriculum, particularly planning for student learning; the development of interpersonal skills such as communication, teamwork and organisation as well as increased self-confidence and exposure to external professions.
Phase 3, Research into the effectiveness of STEM pre-service teacher-school-industry engagement:
The School of Education (UniSA) in conjunction with the Department of State Development and the Division of IEEE (Information, Engineering and Environment) (UniSA), will extend the industry engagement developed in Phase 2 of the project to include pre-service teachers on professional experience placements in school (Model 2) and undergraduate students who have been identified as in a pathway to become teachers from the programs in the Division of ITEE (UniSA) (Model 3). The Department of State Development and the School of Education will work in partnership. DSD will take the lead in identifying appropriate industries, and the SoE will lead on sourcing school placements, providing support for pre-service teachers, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of the models.