The Invergowrie STEM Hub project

The challenge

The 2020 update of Girls’ Future – Our Future, The Invergowrie Foundation STEM Report shed light on the challenges that still need to be overcome to increase STEM participation. The report draws attention to the need to address unconscious bias and stereotyping, the role of career education, the need to include careers in STEM education and the requirement for targeted professional learning for teachers and career educators.

To tackle this challenge three universities established a research team to co-design a STEM Hub that will provide teachers, carers, and students with compelling STEM engagement opportunities. This co-design project brought the diversity of the researchers’ skills and knowledge together to create an innovative approach. Collectively we have built a strong partnership based on reciprocity, mutuality, and respect, and united by a passion to address inequities in STEM education.

Project overview

Our vision for the STEM Hub is to create an inclusive online community and inspire interaction and participation in STEM. The objective is to increase participation through the transformation of students’, carers’ and teachers’ engagement and awareness of STEM by providing trusted experiences and resources that support their STEM learning journey in education and in life.

Current evidence tells us that our key leverage points of influence are with students, carers and teachers. Our conceptual framework positions these three groups of stakeholders interconnected around a central core. As they move along the learning journey encountering STEM experiences, STEM awareness and STEM practices and resources, all stakeholders will engage in a rich and rewarding learning continuum. See diagram below:

The project team will develop resources for each stakeholder group — students, carers and teachers — and work collaboratively across three themes: STEM Experience, STEM Awareness and STEM Practices and Resources. The team will curate the ‘best of’ current STEM website activities and links as well as create content and resources that address the needs of girls and diversity, ensuring not to exclude boys in the process.

The project will focus across the education continuum: preschool, primary school and secondary school, with a particular focus initially on building STEM identity in early childhood education (ECE) as an intervening key leverage point in the educational pipeline.

Outcomes

The STEM Hub will work to address inclusivity and equity in STEM participation through a series of programs that will engage students, teachers, and carers’ to address the underlying unconscious bias and raise awareness of STEM pathways and identify how parents and carers can be guided to play an active role in their own children’s STEM participation.

In developing the STEM Hub, we will also be positioning it as an innovative action research project. By creating resources aimed at defined stakeholders at particular points in the education pathway, we will attempt to answer and evaluate a central research question: What are the most effective online interventions that respond to the specific needs of our central stakeholders (students, carers and teachers) at specific points in their education pathway?

This will generate new research concepts, hypotheses and insights that can be shared and reproduced across the education sector. Additional research foci that would add value to the Hub include:

  • Impacts of access to resources for students, particularly girls, on their understanding, beliefs, attitudes and career aspirations.
  • Impacts of access to resources for teachers on their practice, beliefs and attitudes.
  • Effects for teachers in participating in co-design in inter-disciplinary stakeholder groups and articulating and disseminating aspects of their practice and activities – which could involve action research by or with teachers.
  • Impacts of access to resources for carers on their understanding, beliefs and attitudes of STEM and interactions with their children.
  • Effects for carers in participating in co-design in inter-disciplinary stakeholder groups, and articulating and disseminating aspects of their interactions with the resources.

Project team

Project leaders

  • Dr Lihua Xu (Deakin University)
  • Associate Professor Therese Keane (Swinburne University of Technology)

Team

Timeline

2022–2024

Research partners

  • Deakin University
  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • The University of Melbourne

Funding

The Invergowrie Foundation

$1.2 million

More information

Geelong STEM Hub

Keywords

STEM education, teacher professional learning, gender and STEM, STEM career pathways