Inspiring minds research-engaged STEAM outreach: Affecting attitudinal and attainment change through interdisciplinary outreach

Conference paper


Lawson, F. and Colley, S. 2022. Inspiring minds research-engaged STEAM outreach: Affecting attitudinal and attainment change through interdisciplinary outreach.
AuthorsLawson, F. and Colley, S.
TypeConference paper
Description

There is agreement within the UK and internationally that our economy and workforce will be increasingly dependent on STEM-related opportunities and skills. However, there is a lack of agreement on the best ways to improve diversity and recruitment into these fields. It would be naive to think that any one solution would work for all students (or indeed for all sectors) however this alone is no reason to maintain the status quo and hope that the situation will be resolved.
The barrier to STEM engagement at post-16 and Higher Education is twofold firstly engaging students with STEM in formal learning contexts in a manner that explicitly develops their understanding of the nature, power, and limitations of science in real-world and multidisciplinary contexts.

Secondly students from underrepresented backgrounds frequently have little or no science capital. These barriers combined mean that students from “economically disadvantaged backgrounds” are said to have poorer science attainment than their more advantaged peers, with the divide appearing as early as Key Stage 1 (age 5-7 years) (ASE 2018), and continuing through to GCSE choices where they are three times less likely to take triple science at GCSE level (Archer et al. 2016, 302) therefore influencing the opportunities open to them in STEM at post-16 and in HE.

This paper examines how an epistemic insight pedagogy has been used to underpin a sustained engagement programme of informal science learning (ISL) – Inspiring Minds. Inspiring Minds has been running since 2017 and was developed with the aim of engaging students who have become disengaged with the content-heavy formal science curriculum by engaging them with STEM through Big Questions related to the interaction of STEM and society and developing their epistemic agency by undertaking interdisciplinary STEAM research projects that challenged their perception of the role and relevance of STEM for society. Further the paper reports on the impact that the programme has had in producing statistically significant shifts in aspiration and attitudes towards STEM and for cohort one, where public examination data is available, leading to significant shifts in academic achievement in relation to a matched comparator group. We conclude by looking forwards to the next steps for research engaged practice in STEM outreach and Widening Participation work.

KeywordsEpistemic Insight; Widening articipation; Informal science learning; STEM Education
Year2022
ConferenceEpistemic Insight Conference 2022: Transforming interdisciplinary learning through epistemically insightful curricula
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References

Allchin, Douglas. 2013. ‘Problem- and Case-Based Learning in Science: An Introduction to Distinctions, Values, and Outcomes’. CBE—Life Sciences Education 12 (3): 364–72. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.12-11-0190.
Anthony, Anna. 2022. Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) Inspiring Minds Impact Evaluation: Examining the Impact on Key Stage 4 (GCSE) Exam Results. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.32986.82882.
Archer, Louise, Julie Moote, Becky Francis, Jennifer DeWitt, and Lucy Yeomans. 2016. ‘Stratifying Science: A Bourdieusian Analysis of Student Views and Experiences of School Selective Practices in Relation to “Triple Science” at KS4 in England’. Research Papers in Education 32 (3): 296–315. https://doi.org/10.1080/02671522.2016.1219382.
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Billingsley, Berry, and Mark Hardman. 2018. ‘Theme Editorial: Epistemic Insight and the Power and Limitations of Science in Multidisciplinary Areas’. School Science Review 99 (367): 16–18
OfS, Office for. 2022. ‘Next Steps in Access and Participation - Office for Students’. Office for Students. Worldwide. 8 February 2022. https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/news-blog-and-events/press-and-...
Sheldrake, Richard, Tamjid Mujtaba, and Michael J. Reiss. 2017. ‘Science Teaching and Students’ Attitudes and Aspirations: The Importance of Conveying the Applications and Relevance of Science’. International Journal of Educational Research 85 (January): 167–83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2017.08.002.
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