Engaging the disengaged: A literature driven, retrospective reflection, of a successful student centric STEM intervention

James Lee, Charlene Willis, Jeff Parker, Keane Wheeler, Barbara White, Daniel A James

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Paper published in Proceedingspeer-review


    CONTEXT By the time students reach university the die is already cast, many will not choose engineering or related STEM disciplines because of poor experiences in their early education. Research suggests decisions about STEM careers are made in late primary school, where early education and environmental factors have tended to favour or filter individuals into very narrow demographics.

    PURPOSE OR GOAL This paper examines the literature around the early STEM engagement at primary and secondary levels, to see if students are more likely to choose engineering and related disciplines at tertiary level, because of early positive experiences. Them it was retrospectively applied to a successful pilot STEM intervention to identify factors of success. 

    APPROACH The researchers used a snowball literature review to examine the problem of low STEM uptake and then applied it reflectively examine a pilot STEM intervention that was aimed at disadvantaged and disengaged students. 

    OUTCOMES We used a literature driven methodological approach to assess a STEM intervention, as an aid to further developing a novel STEM intervention based on using physical activity and sport to harness intrinsic student interests in physical pursuits as a vehicle for teaching STEM and its relevance for future career choices. 

    SUMMARY This investigation examined key confounding factors in STEM engagement related to gender, socio economic disadvantage and lack of appropriate or intellectual challenge throughout the literature. A methodology was developed from the literature to help assess engagement and was applied reflectively to a successful STEM pilot engagement intervention, that utilised sport as a vehicle. Future work is directed towards STEM intervention with a more complete range of measures using the developed methodology to assess the intervention more completely.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication31st Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2020)
    Subtitle of host publicationDisrupting Business as Usual in Engineering Education
    Place of PublicationBarton, ACT
    PublisherEngineers Australia
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Print)9781925627541
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


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