Exploring teachers’ and students’ conceptions of STEM education and impediments to STEM implementation in the Mathematics curriculum
Sifana Dewa, Sithokozile
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A quantitative nonexperimental survey study was developed to explore A-Level teachers’ and students’ conceptions of STEM education. This study sought to examine the current conceptions of STEM education, current STEM instructional elements implementation practices and the impediments characterising STEM implementation in High Schools. The participating schools were located in the Mashonaland West Province. STEM teachers and A-Level STEM students were surveyed. The closed and open form survey consisted of thirty-six research items for teachers and thirty- one research items for students. The research items were grouped by three core research questions. Quantitative data for research questions two and three were analysed using single sample t tests. A five point Likert scale was used to measure responses with a 2.5 point of neutrality rating. The open-ended question on definition of STEM was summarised and recorded for frequency. Research indicated that High School teachers and students do not have a clear conception of the notion of STEM education though they perceive a need for it to a significant extent. This research concluded that there was no common operational definition or conceptualization of STEM in schools. In the findings, most teachers articulated a conceptualization of STEM as related to individual STEM disciplines, thus following the notion that there are silos in the teaching and learning of STEM disciplines. The inter-displinary and integration aspects of STEM education were lacking among both teachers and students. The research also concluded that STEM education is not yet substantially implemented since both teachers and students rarely used the core STEM instructional elements like enquiry-based, project-based, innovation and real-world problem solving activities in their classrooms. Challenges facing STEM implementation include; shortage of STEM qualified teachers, lack of exposure and hands-on training of students in STEM fields, lack of collaboration among STEM teachers, use of traditional teacher-led teaching methods and lack of research across STEM fields among others. The research finally recommended that STEM awareness campaigns should be held in various districts throughout the country and that STEM learning hubs should be established in districts to encourage collaboration amongst STEM teachers and students. Lastly, it is recommended that teacher professional development programs be revamped with the aim to introduce integrated STEM curriculum pedagogies.