Secondary mathematics and science initiative (SMSI) for out-of-field teachers

The challenge

The Secondary Mathematics and Science Initiative (SMSI) aims to address the critical and ongoing shortage of maths and science teachers by helping teachers who are already teaching those subjects ‘out of field’ — without formal qualifications in teaching mathematics/science — to improve their content knowledge and learn new approaches to teaching that engage student interest and builds their skills.

Project overview

Deakin University has partnered with the Victorian Department of Education and Training to deliver new graduate courses designed to increase the number of qualified maths and science teachers available to teach in state secondary schools.

The SMSI is designed for teachers who have been teaching out-of-field (without a formal teaching-method qualification) for between one and five years. The courses are structured around mathematics and science content domains with a strong classroom focus and draw on extensive consultation with teachers and principals as well as STEME research.

The design and delivery of the courses involves a Design-Based Research (DBR) methodology with cycles of planning, evaluation and refinement. Through this process researchers have learned about the context of out-of-field teaching, the experience of teachers across subject boundaries, and how best to support their learning.

The initiative includes an innovative ‘CIRCLS’ support network offering mentoring and support resources for teachers returning to study.


The Deakin STEME team has developed Graduate Certificates in Secondary Mathematics and Science that support ‘out-of-field’ teachers to gain knowledge and experience of mathematics/science ideas and best practice teaching approaches. Participants gain a graduate certificate in either mathematics or science through Deakin University.


Victorian Department of Education and Training, $4.63 million

More information


teaching across subject boundaries, teacher professional learning, science education, mathematics education, teacher growth