Teachers in Conversation with Industry Scientists: Implications for STEM Education
AbstractScience, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is dominating industry as we become more technology-dependent and the workplace evolves. Consequently, engaging industry professionals in STEM education continues to be a priority in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, as industry look to invest in students who will become future innovators. While industry partnerships with schools can help to drive authentic education in STEM, there needs to be a mutually respectful approach that capitalises on the expertise of each partner; that is, the deep discipline knowledge of industry and the pedagogical knowledge of educators. This research partnered industry scientists with early career science teachers to explore the implications of industry-school partnerships. Data were collected through interviews and focus groups with 15 participants. The qualitative data were inductively coded and triangulation occurred between different focus groups for dependability. The advice from industry scientists to educators focused on making science practical and authentic, while educators sought to engage industry partnerships to support the development of content knowledge and to overcome resourcing issues. In addition, the conversations between scientists and science educators illuminated a number of barriers to partnering, including what type of STEM careers to introduce to students and the appropriate age groups to target to ensure successful partnerships.