Linking pedagogical knowledge practices and student outcomes in STEM education for primary schools

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Conference publication

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STEM education is a new frontier in Australia, particularly for primary schools. However, the E in STEM needs to have a stronger focus with science and mathematics concepts aligned to the presiding curricula. In addition, pedagogical knowledge practices such as planning, preparation, teaching strategies, assessment and so forth need to be connected to key concepts for developing a STEM education. One of the aims of this study was to understand how a pedagogical knowledge practice framework could be linked to student outcomes in STEM education. Specifically, this qualitative research investigated Year 4 students’ involvement in an integrated STEM education program that focused on science concepts (e.g., states of matter, testing properties of materials) and mathematics concepts (such as 3D shapes and metric measurements: millilitres, temperature, grams, centimetres) for designing, making and testing a strong and safe medical kit to insulate medicines at desirable temperatures. Eleven pedagogical knowledge practices (e.g., planning, preparation, teaching strategies, classroom management, and assessment) were used as a framework for understanding how teaching may be linked to student outcomes in STEM education. For instance, “planning” involved devising a student booklet as a resource for students to understand the tasks required of them, which also provided space for them to record ideas, results and information. Planning involved linking national and state curriculum documents to the STEM education activities. More studies are required around pedagogical knowledge frameworks to understand what students learn when involved in STEM education, particularly with the inclusion of engineering education.