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STEM Education Research Video

13 August 2018

Dr Kieran McGeown (St Mary’s University College) and Dr Michael Ievers (Stranmillis University College) have recently completed an innovative piece of research with a focus on STEM education within the primary education sector of Northern Ireland.

The aim of this research was to record the pupils’ voice regarding how STEM education should be developed within the primary schools of Northern Ireland, alongside the voices of those in positions to significantly impact upon the pupils’ experiences. As Benson and Lunt (2011) point out, there is a lack of the pupils’ voice within literature and it is important that it is listened to and acted upon:

“Children naturally have very important insights to offer in helping us to develop our understanding of teaching and learning.”

The principal objective was to film an ‘Academic Documentary’ to constitute both a methodology for data collection and a medium for dissemination. Pupils were interviewed within small groups, while adults were interviewed individually. Key findings from the pupils were the relevance and importance they attributed to STEM education, together with the enthusiasm with which they engaged with STEM experiences. From the adults, key findings were the critical need for training, the need for societal value of practical skills, the consensus that STEM education should be problem-based and compulsory, the need for effective transition and the need for a more effective coalition with business. The current study is considered important, as there has been no previous research of this kind carried out in Northern Ireland.

The documentary along with a research paper titled “STEM in Northern Ireland Primary Schools: where is it at, and where should it go” will be presented at the 36th Pupils' Attitudes Toward Technology Conference (PATT) hosted by the Athlone Institute of Technology from 18th-21st June 2018.

Dr Kieran McGeown commented:

“The initial impact of the research video to date has been very encouraging. We have received offers from colleagues in business, schools and higher education to form a working group for the purpose of investigating further both the possible content and impact of having a compulsory STEM element for primary schools within the Northern Ireland Curriculum. The Chief Executive of Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), Justin Edwards, has invited Michael and I to deliver a presentation regarding our research to CCEA's examinations and curriculum teams on a date to be confirmed. Further, we have been asked by colleagues within the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) to form a specialist STEM working group for the purposes of enabling colleagues within the education sector to learn from each other regarding the provision of STEM education throughout the UK and identifying common targets for a STEM curriculum at primary level. In addition we have had numerous requests from Northern Ireland based media outlets for further details concerning our ongoing research work and on Tuesday, 26 June we will be conducting an interview with NVTV, which is based in Belfast. Lastly, we have had almost 1,000 ‘hits’ on LINKEDIN to our documentary film, with requests for more details, to date, from colleagues in Canada, Australia, USA and India."

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