A diverse science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce is critical for economic growth and prosperity. Schools and classrooms play a pivotal role in engaging all learners in STEM and in helping them realise their potential.
A new online, research informed guide, Classroom strategies for inclusive STEM learning environments, will support schools and educators to positively engage students in STEM learning and importantly to address gender disparities in STEM.
Gender-inclusive teaching and learning environments can inspire all students, not only girls and young women, to engage more deeply with STEM and see themselves as successful STEM learners and future leaders.
The Australian Government has a vision of an Australian society that provides equal opportunity for people of all genders to learn, work and engage in STEM. The vision is being advanced by a national, coordinated approach outlined in the Advancing Women in STEM 2020 Action Plan. The work of Education Services Australia (ESA) in the provision of technology-based services for all Australian education jurisdictions supports this vision.
The Australian Government engaged ESA to develop the Girls in STEM Toolkit (the GiST) website to encourage school-aged girls’ participation in STEM activities, subject selection and to understand the diverse range of STEM careers available to them. The GiST was launched in September 2019.
The new guide is based on The Girls in STEM Toolkit’s Seven principles for a gender-inclusive learning environment research, in which teachers identified the use of Seven Principles as a basis for a range of purposes.
ESA engaged the University of Adelaide to undertake further research to support classroom application of the Seven Principles, with suggested practical strategies and contemporary resources for teachers’ use to then create engaging and inclusive STEM classrooms.
Dr Rebecca Vivian, Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide said that jobs of today and the future increasingly require people with STEM skills, yet research shows that STEM uptake and confidence is low among many Australian students.
“This guide presents practical evidence-based strategies and resources that teachers can use to turn the GiST seven principles for a gender-inclusive classroom into one where all learners have the potential to thrive in STEM.”
Andrew Smith, CEO of Education Services Australia, said the guide will have a transformative impact for educators and students.
“Supporting teachers to create inclusive STEM learning environments and increase participation in STEM activity by girls is imperative to inspire more girls and women to enter fields of study and careers in STEM.”