Understanding the impact targeted STEM opportunities have on pupils’ attitudes towards STEM
STEM is an integral part of our world from how we live our lives to the jobs we work in, and the importance of STEM is only growing. STEM industries are the fastest growing in the world and it is a major focus of the Scottish Government to develop and build its STEM capabilities to continue to compete as a world leader in science and engineering. However, there are many perceived barriers to entering STEM. The inequity in STEM representation in gender, ethnicity and deprivation begins in early education and must be addressed. These barriers must be broken down through the development of robust educational programs to allow all young people to develop the necessary skills to take their place in the modern workforce and contribute to modern society
This study used a mixed methodology to understand the impact targeted STEM opportunities have on pupils’ attitudes towards STEM. This study used class and extracurricular project-based STEM learning to look at whether participation in STEM projects would change the way pupils view STEM and their future involvement in it. Questionnaires were used to gather quantitative and qualitative data both pre- and post-intervention. This was then analysed to identify any changes in the way pupils viewed who could work in STEM, STEM education, and STEM careers. Interviews were also carried out post-intervention to gain a more personal view of project-based learning and its impacts.
The study did not find that participation in targeted STEM opportunities had an impact on the attitudes pupils held towards STEM, it did show that working within a team on a project helped pupils develop skills in teamwork and communication. While this study did not have an impact on pupils’ attitudes towards STEM future studies may wish to revisit project-based learning over a longer period and with a larger cohort.
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