Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International Journal of Science Education


Taylor & Francis


School of Education




Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Australian Government


Jones, M., Geiger, V., Falloon, G., Fraser, S., Beswick, K., Holland-Twining, B., & Hatisaru, V. (2024). Learning contexts and visions for STEM in schools. International Journal of Science Education. Advance online publication.


STEM education is viewed as being vital for economic prosperity and productivity; and can contribute productively to changing technological, economic, and social demands of the twenty-first Century. However, there is limited consensus on how STEM education is understood and taught, and inadequate discussion around its role in addressing global issues such as climate change, health, poverty, food security, and other STEM-related social concerns. In this paper, we identify the contexts adopted for STEM teaching and learning in 47 Australian schools, drawing data from semi-structured interviews with principals and teachers who participated in the Principals as STEM Leaders (PASL) project. These data were categorised according to four visions for STEM education that align with different levels of social justice and activist approaches to STEM teaching and learning. Findings indicate that STEM education in Australia is predominantly enacted through instrumental ‘products and processes’ approaches dominated by robotics and coding. Learning contexts had minimal ‘real-life’ applications and were devoid of social and ethical dimensions of STEM applications that would better equip students with the knowledge, skills, and agency to make informed, socially just decisions about their own and others’ futures, and that of our shared environment.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Included in

Education Commons