Vocational education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) : Curriculum innovation through school industry partnerships

Watters, James J. & Christensen, Clare (2014) Vocational education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) : Curriculum innovation through school industry partnerships. In Constantinou, C. P., Papadouris, N., & Hadjigeorgiou, A. (Eds.) E-Book Proceedings of the ESERA 2013 Conference: Science Education Research For Evidence-based Teaching and Coherence in Learning. Nicosia, Cyprus:, European Science Education Research Association, pp. 89-110.

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Governments have recognised that the technological trades rely on knowledge embedded traditionally in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. However, there is substantial evidence that students are turning away from these subjects in schools because the school curriculum is seen as irrelevant, with clear implications for not just vocational education but also higher education. In this paper, we report preliminary findings on the development of two curricula that attempt to integrate science and mathematics with workplace knowledge and practices. We argue that these curricula provide educational opportunities for students to pursue their preferred career pathways. These curricula were co-developed by industry and educational personnel across three industry sectors, namely, mining industry, aerospace and wine tourism. The aim was to provide knowledge appropriate for students moving from school to the workplace as trade apprentices in the respective industries. The analysis of curriculum and associated policy documents reveals that the curricula adopt applied learning orientations through teaching strategies and assessment practices which focus on practical skills. However, although key theoretical science and maths concepts have been well incorporated, the extent to which knowledge deriving from workplace practices is included varies across the curricula. The extent to which applications of concepts are included in the models depends on a number of factors not least the relevant expertise of the teacher as a practitioner in the industry. Our findings highlight the importance of teachers having substantial practical industry experience and the role that whole school policies play in attempts to align the range of learning experiences with the needs of industry.

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ID Code: 63682
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: This is an updated and expanded version of the original conference presentation document. It has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in the ebook proceedings published by ESERA.
Additional URLs:
Keywords: vocational education, STEM, workplace, curriculum, industry school partnership
ISBN: 978-9963-700-77-6
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Technical Further and Workplace Education (130108)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > Schools > School of Curriculum
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Please consult the authors
Deposited On: 14 Nov 2013 01:15
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2015 22:48

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