Engaging learners effectively in science, technology and engineering: The pathway from secondary to university education
About the project
Considerable evidence exists of a world-wide trend of declining student numbers in school and university sciences. This completed project examined how university students become or remain engaged in science during their transition from school to university.
The aims of this project were to:
- improve student engagement in the study of science at university
- improve the transition from the school learning environment to that of university,
- identify and promulgate pedagogical ‘best practice’ for science education in the first year at university.
You can download the full report and a summary report as pdfs or purchase the print version of the summary report from the Ako Aotearoa shop.
Findings and recommendations
The findings provide clear evidence that more widespread use of best practice pedagogies and provision of relevant contexts would promote student engagement in the sciences at both secondary and tertiary education levels.
A framework of engagement was developed, as well as a series of recommendations, which included:
- assisting lecturers and teachers to develop skills in the ‘teacher efficacy’
- ensuring assessment practices at school and university reward critical thinking rather than reinforce low order learning
- ensuring all content is delivered in a context that is immediately relevant to the learner.
- building on the diversity of knowledge that results from the standards-based NCEA high school education
- guaranteeing liaison between universities and schools to ensure school leavers have the content knowledge needed to start their degrees.
Over 1,000 learners and educators took part in this project. Data was collected using a mixed-methods design that included questionnaires and focus groups.
Student engagement and transition were most strongly influenced by lecturers’ style, personality, enthusiasm, and ability to place scientific knowledge into contexts that were relevant to the student, or which the students could construct for themselves. Lecturers’ and teachers’ perceptions of their teaching quality were significantly greater than those of their students and, conversely, students’ perception of their engagement were significantly greater than those of their teachers/lecturers.
- Professor Tim Parkinson (Project Leader), Massey University
- Helen Hughes, Massey University
- Bill MacIntyre, Massey University
- Gordon Suddaby, Massey University
- Marg Gilling, Massey University
- Dr Dianne Gardner, Massey University
$86,000 GST exc
Project commenced: early 2009
Project completed: mid-2011.
The report from this project is published under the Creative Commons 3.0 New Zealand Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike Licence (BY-NC-SA). Under this licence you are free to copy, distribute, display and perform the work as well as to remix, tweak, and build upon this work noncommercially, as long as you credit the author/s and license your new creations under the identical terms.
- 'Boring' teaching a turnoff on science – Stuff website, 14 June 2011
- Study tackles lack of science graduates – Manawatu Standard, 14 June 2011
- NZ needs more science grads - professor – TV3 News, 14 June 2011