Tech Schools Evaluation
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education is positioned as critical to achieving an innovative workforce and society. Given the recent compounding of these four disciplines in education in Australia, evaluations of STEM-focused initiatives, such as STEM learning centres, need to focus on the nature of innovation and the conditions that are needed to create this innovation.
This project uses research methods to evaluate the Victorian Tech Schools Initiative, which is a Victorian Education State Reform Initiative (VicSTEM, 2016) of the Department of Education and Training (the Department). The initiative established ten independent but interlinked centres called Tech Schools across the state that aim to prepare students for a STEM-enhanced world and STEM career possibilities by strengthening their 21st-century employability skills, and linking education with growing industries in their local area.
In order to understand how and in what ways the Tech Schools might revolutionise the STEM education ecosystem, it is important for the evaluation to:
- capture the ways Tech Schools create conditions that lead to innovation
- analyse the impacts of these innovations.
The evaluation is ‘interactive’ in that it informs continuous review and improvement of the initiative, and will monitor delivery and intended outcomes. It is also ‘responsive’ in providing for consultation and collaboration with stakeholders in designing evaluation tools and including the value perspectives of stakeholders when reporting outcomes. The evaluation strategy has involved the development of a Theory of Innovation to inform the Evaluation Framework provided by the Department, which includes short-, medium- and long-term intended outcomes and a program logic. A mixed methods approach was designed to generate data in concert with a rigorous and ethical process for capturing the complexity, diversity, uniqueness and innovative aspects of the Tech Schools.
As a formative evaluation, annual reporting feeds back into the design of the initiative and operations of the Tech Schools. Also, the innovation framework developed as part of our evaluation methodology has been generative in rethinking how these types of initiatives can be studied, understood and designed. Dissemination of these theoretical and methodological dimensions of evaluating innovative programs has included research conferences and academic publications (currently under review).
- Associate Professor Linda Hobbs (Chief Investigator)
- Dr George Aranda
- Dr John Cripps Clark
- Dr Seamus Delaney
- Associate Professor Peta White
- Mr Chris Speldewinde
- Professor Russell Tytler
- Professor Coral Campbell
- Professor Christine Ure
Victorian Department of Education and Training, $573,510