STEM the boredom: Engage students in the Australian curriculum using ICT with problem-based learning and assessment
Centre for Schooling and Learning Technologies (CSaLT) / School of Education
The well-being of modern economies and societies is increasingly requiring citizens to possess capabilities in integrating knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering and science to solve problems. However, by the end of schooling, the majority of Australian students show little interest in these discipline areas and have no plans to continue study or work in them; many refer to these disciplines as boring. Further, they typically have little experience in integrating knowledge and skills from these disciplines and/or in applying this to solve relevant problems. Therefore, there is a need to engage students with such learning experiences to develop their interest and capabilities, particularly during the early years of secondary schooling. This is not easy for teachers to respond to, but with the support of modern digital technologies and the new Australian curriculum, the potential is expanded and the challenge is more readily achievable. However, appropriate pedagogies need to be supported that include more authentic approaches to assessment. Learning activities need to support students to integrate knowledge and skills across discipline areas in tackling real problems, and this also needs to be reflected in how students are assessed. In this paper, I will draw on personal experience as a teacher, a review of recent literature, components of the Australian Curriculum, and findings from research projects associated with my University research centre, to argue for, and illustrate how, teachers can orchestrate powerful learning activities to promote an interdisciplinary approach to STEM.