Technology Is The Key To Great STEM Teaching

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Samsung and the University of Canberra's STEM Education Research Centre have just announced research findings they say proves a technology-enabled approach to teaching significantly improves competency in STEM among primary and secondary school students.

So much so, in fact, that students involved in the research program made the same progress over three weeks that they would typically make in a year.

Announced at Parliament House last night with Craig Laundy, Assistant Minister for Industry innovation and Science (who gave a keynote address), this research is being used to shift industry discussion into action across the national curriculum.

The research investigated practical methods for increasing mathematics education results in primary students and the development of student-led STEM inquiry projects at high school.

Education Minister, Senator Simon Birmingham said the collaboration between Samsung and the University of Canberra highlighted how businesses and researchers could join forces to deliver real potential benefits for Australians.

"The Turnbull Government is focused on ensuring all students have the support they need to succeed and we encourage contributions like this one from Samsung and the University of Canberra because they have the potential to give young Australians even more opportunities," Minister Birmingham said. "I look forward to seeing the final outcomes of the program and its research."

The findings point to opportunities for the continued development of classroom STEM practices; combining practical activities and analytical thinking.

Tess Ariotti, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Samsung Australia said the findings hold significance not only for educators and policy makers but also for the wider community.

"As concern for Australia's education standards continues to evolve, we've joined forces with the University of Canberra to start a conversation with the government and community around implementing tangible change across the national curriculum.

"STEM practices are increasingly vital to the workforce; building competence in STEM practices today can lead to future success for young Australians and a boost to our economy.

"By bringing together the best of Samsung digital technologies with proven creative design methods and world-leading science research, Samsung has gained a better understanding of training that can improve math performance and STEM education practices."

University of Canberra Centenary Professor and Director of SERC Thomas Lowrie said there was a firm need for research that bridges the gap between academic research and classroom practices.

"Competence in mathematics has been heralded by many of our peers as the most influential indicator for success in adult life. While high levels of competence are required for the most technically advanced jobs of the future, a broad foundation is essential for everyone’s overall wellbeing. There's no doubt that attaining success in school mathematics will positively influence success in the workplace and life at large.

"This research has allowed us to open the door to opportunities for action-based educational experiences and greater collaboration with educators and the wider STEM industry," Professor Lowrie said.

The research program involved two separate projects developed within the primary and secondary school environment.

The primary school component incorporated a teaching and learning program with digital app integration, utilising Samsung technology. The results pointed to an effect size of 0.5 which means students' mathematics skills improved to the level typically achieved in one year, in just a few weeks. The intervention group increased their spatial reasoning score by 12 per cent while also recording an improvement in the mathematics test with an increase of 20 per cent.

The secondary school component focused on student-led STEM enquiry projects whereby Samsung technology served as a data logger as well as a data analysis and storytelling tool (like video). The key outcomes saw an increase in design-process thinking and inquiry-based learning among the students; demonstrating good technology can enable significant, real-world STEM investigations.

Key Findings from the study so far can be found here:

The full research findings and analysis will be released as part of a full academic report in 2018.

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