Author Identifier

Rachel Freed

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education

First Supervisor

Christina Norris

Second Supervisor

David McKinnon

Third Supervisor

Michael Fitzgerald


We are at a time in technological development where educational pedagogy must change to adapt to new and emerging technology and to the global connectedness of people and tools. With remote education a commonplace thing, in part necessitated by the global pandemic, and made possible by the current state of technology, it is time to rethink educational methods at the institutional and personal levels. Science education must be a critical focus of educational policy and reform as recent historical events have highlighted the lack of scientific understanding and critical thinking in the general population in the United States and elsewhere. It can be argued that the way that science is classically and still typically taught does not lead to scientific understanding and applicability and therefore must be done differently. Several approaches to different methods are proving fruitful in terms of increasing students’ motivation, perseverance and intentions to pursue STEM education and careers, on limited scales. Making changes to the large institution that is our educational system is challenging and takes time and occurs in small, incremental steps. Even with national mandates to improve STEM education with the implementation of undergraduate research experiences and course-based undergraduate research experiences, change is slow and not widespread. This begs the question of how to improve things and to do so on a faster timeline. There are limits to what teachers and professors in classrooms have time to do within their designated curricula and so even amidst a call for more research opportunities, providing the time and funding and intellectual freedom to incorporate these into the existing educational framework is challenging at best. We have to start thinking and taking actions outside the box, or changing the box, as it were. For example, the two research programs studied here are situated mostly outside of the traditional classroom settings, sometimes being integrated into the catch-all “research courses” that exist at many institutions, but often just being an additional, extracurricular activity. Many questions surround the implementation of such programs. For example, what are the benefits to students and institutions, how can they be scaled up for larger enrollment, and how can they be made sustainable over the long term? Some of these questions are beginning to be addressed in the research presented here.