Responding to the Demands of the STEM Education Agenda: The Experiences of Primary and Secondary Teachers from Rural, Regional and Remote Australia
In recent years STEM education has been the focus of Australian government funding initiatives, policy and curriculum development at the national and state levels and a key driver of school innovation. Principals, teachers and students have been called upon to develop their capability and interest in the individual STEM discipline subjects or to engage in interdisciplinary STEM activities. Much of the focus on STEM has been driven by a national agenda informed by the needs of industry, and research that indicates that the students graduating from schools and universities today with STEM qualifications will not be sufficient for society’s needs. While the agenda encompasses more than individual teachers or schools, it is teachers who are at the forefront of its implementation in classrooms. In this paper we report on the perceptions of teachers about issues impacting on the effective teaching of STEM in rural, regional and remote Australia, and strategies they use to overcome issues/barriers and building the confidence and capacity of STEM teachers. Based on these, the paper reports some potential solutions to the issues faced by schools in rural, regional and remote Australia addressing the demands of the STEM Education focus.