Building STEM in schools: an Australian cross-case analysis
Falloon, G and Stevenson, M and Beswick, K and Fraser, S and Geiger, V, Building STEM in schools: an Australian cross-case analysis, Educational Technology and Society, 24, (4) pp. 1-22. ISSN 1436-4522 (2021) [Refereed Article]
The Principals as STEM Leaders (PASL) project was an Australian Government-funded national research and professional learning programme for principals, aimed at building STEM leadership capacity. The project involved cluster-based delivery of six learning modules and generation of case studies outlining schools’ different approaches to STEM education and STEM leadership. This article analyses factors contributing to the development of four contrasting schools’ STEM profiles, identifying the unique approaches and leadership strategies each adopted in designing STEM curriculum for meeting the learning needs of their diverse students. It positions these schools’ endeavours within the broader PASL professional learning programme, adding to the limited body of empirical work detailing different approaches schools take to the ‘STEM challenge’, which, for most, presents a disruptive innovation to traditional curriculum and structures. The vital role of school leaders in communicating a clear, evidence-based vision for STEM and also ‘walking the talk’ and being highly engaged in STEM programmes, was a common feature across the cases. This built relational trust, and a strong whole-of-school commitment to and understanding of STEM, to some extent mitigating the challenges of rigid curriculum and external assessment requirements. The study highlights the complex interaction of professional learning, leadership, curriculum design, pedagogy, and school culture in establishing innovative STEM programmes in schools.
STEM education, case study, school leadership, principal, curriculum, school change, innovation, professional learning