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How industry and academia are joining forces to equip STEM teachers for classrooms of the future

The first cohort of students has just completed a new MA in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education that prepares educators to respond to our increasingly technological and science-rich world. To celebrate this milestone, industry representatives, academics and current students came together to share their experiences on the important role STEM education has in our society.

In autumn 2021, amidst the hustle and bustle of a new academic year starting at King’s College London, the first student cohort of the MA in STEM Education were doing final checks and proofreading their dissertations, which they submitted before many of them returned to their own classrooms to enthuse primary and secondary school pupils about biology, physics, technology, natural sciences, mathematics, engineering and more.

Launched in 2019, the new MA in STEM Education programme responds to the pressing technological and environmental issues the world is facing. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and brought into stark relief again at COP26, these challenges require a set of complex responses, which some argue could only be devised and developed if more students enjoy, understand and choose STEM subjects and future career pathways.

The School of Education, Communication and Society (ECS) at King’s recognised the need to work from the ground up to meet this challenge, and equip the teachers with insights from world-leading education research in this field. The programme aims to equip its students to challenge the STEM education discourse, seek out and develop evidence, contribute to building up a repository of STEM education research, lead professional change and becoming critical thinkers.

WIPRO, an Indian multinational information technology corporation, shares this vision and generously decided to support the course; they have funded the programme since its inception, and offered 45 scholarships so that educators could have the opportunity to study for the MA in STEM Education.

At a celebratory event held on 20 November 2021, past and current students of the master’s programme met with King’s researchers, WIPRO representatives, and the Chief Scientific Adviser of the UK Department for International Trade, Dr Mike Short CBE, to discuss the importance of STEM education and collaboration between industry and academia, as well as hearing from students about their research.

“Our MA in STEM education offers a unique collaboration between academia and industry and so it was wonderful to hear from our first cohort of students how the programme has been transformative to their thinking and practice as educators. STEM education has a vital role to play if we want to enthuse young people to find new ways to address current and future global challenges.”– Dr Melissa Glackin, Programme Director

Liam Cini O’Dwyer, Farah Sharief, David Mensah and Maia Yoshida spoke at the event about the impact of the MA programme on their teaching practice:

  • Liam considered his journey from joining the MA in STEM Education, thanks to the WIPRO scholarship, to becoming a PhD candidate in ECS to further explore social justice theory in the context of STEM education, and in particular the experiences of LGBT+ students.
  • Farah highlighted the opportunities she gained from working at the environmental organisation WWF on a STEM placement, focusing on the data collected by the NGO that she could analyse through the lens of her teaching experience as well as the new research methodologies she had acquired on the course.
  • David shared his dissertation findings on the evolution of a co-created STEM curriculum in secondary schools and how teachers’ beliefs can influence this co-construction.
  • Maia, who was awarded the WIPRO Award for the Most Outstanding STEM Education Dissertation 2021, discussed – all the way from California – her dissertation, in which she explored children’s perspectives about the extent to which making counts as science learning. Her capacity to accurately capture young people’s voice in an ethical and sensitive manner was particularly noted by the examiners, who praised her robust research methodology and its originality.

Dr Mike Short, who gave the keynote speech, expressed how much the funding that WIPRO is donating to support STEM educators shows their long-term commitment to the shared global issues and the important role that educators have in developing the future generations’ skills and creativity.

Omkar Nisal, Managing Director & Country Head - UK & Ireland at WIPRO, said: “We have been impressed to hear from the MA in STEM Education students this evening and the work they are doing in their settings and through their research. It is an exciting and inspirational programme which we are pleased to be a part of.”

Photos credit: Nathan Clarke.

In this story

Melissa Glackin

Melissa Glackin

Senior Lecturer in Science Education

Lulu Healy

Lulu Healy

Professor of Mathematics Education

Richard Brock

Richard Brock

Lecturer in Science Education

Heather King

Heather King

Reader in Science Education

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