The Fireside Chat for Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidates and Early Career Researchers (ECR) will be held from 5:15-7:15 pm on Wednesday.

Presentations that will be delivered online via Zoom are colour-coded green

All times are Adelaide time – GMT +9:30

SessionTimeRoom 1Room 2Room 3Room 4
Marilyn Fleer
Programmatic research on STEM concept formation: Conceptual PlayWorlds as an educational experiment in early yearsThe international trend to increase engagement in STEM starts early. But studies show little STEM is taught to infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. Longstanding research identifies teachers do not feel confident or competent in STEM concepts. In drawing on cultural-historical theory we designed in our PlayLab a series of educational experiments (ARC Laureate Fellowship), where collaborations between teachers and researchers focused on solving this problem. An intervention of a Conceptual PlayWorld was used for researching STEM concept formation and the motives of teachers, families, and early childhood children and girls. This symposium reports on the outcomes of these 4 interrelated studies.

Paper 1: Marilyn Fleer, Glykeria Fragkiadaki, Prabhat RaiDecades of research into early childhood teacher confidence and competence in STEM abound. Mostly what is reported is that teachers do not have the background discipline knowledge of STEM concepts and thereby lack confidence to teach in this area. The net effect is a worryingly limited amount of science being taught in the early childhood period. This paper proposes a different approach to conceptualising teacher confidence and competence in science through a theoretically informed study that gives new directions into how to solve the pressing  problem of increasing the amount of science taught in play-based settings. Teacher participation in a face-to-face and on-line PD program over 10 weeks was digitally documented and analysed. Using the concepts from cultural-historical theory, the results show four types of crises emerged in the PD program. Through a model known as a Conceptual PlayWorld, new conditions for practice change were created to amplify STEM concepts in play-based settings. The major conclusion was that it is not teacher knowledge of concepts that is preventing science teaching, but rather it is how to pedagogically bring concepts into play practice to motivate and sustain children’s engagement in STEM

Paper 2:
Tanya Stephenson, Marilyn Fleer, Glykeria FragkiadakiAs societal needs change, there is an increasing concern for the participation of girls in STEM. While research has consistently recognized the unintended preferential treatment of boys during STEM teaching, there has been limited change. Gendered interactions influence girls’ identity formation from a young age, leading to a decrease in girls’ STEM engagement, and the ongoing underrepresentation of women in STEM. It is important to consider the early stages of education to improve this gap. This study explores the motivating conditions created by the Conceptual PlayWorld model for girls’ STEM engagement in early childhood. Using the cultural-historical framework and a holistic study design, video observations of interactions within and outside Conceptual PlayWorlds were gathered from 2 preschool teachers and 13 children aged 2.3 – 3.2 years. Findings support previous research regarding the accumulation of microaggressions in free-play settings that position girls away from STEM activity. These are minimised inside the Conceptual PlayWorld due to the changed role of the teacher. It is argued that the possibilities afforded by this model positively shift interactional patterns to create motivating conditions for girls in STEM, allowing both girls and boys the opportunity to have a strong engagement with STEM from the very beginning.

Paper 3:
Prabhat Rai, Marilyn Fleer, Glykeria FragkiadakiLuciano Floridi, professor of philosophy and ethics of information at Oxford argued in his book The Fourth Revolution, that our world is being integrated into a global ‘infosphere’ where what we do online and off merge into an ‘onlife’. Fleer (2019) conceptualisation of ‘digital coadjuvants’, echoes similar argument in the context of children’s digital engagement. Following a cultural-historical line her argument is digitally amplified practices (named as coadjuvants), support children’s development. This paper draws on our recent work at Conceptual PlayLab where we are working with families through Playgroup Victoria’s expansive network to create motivating conditions for children’s STEM concept formation in their home settings. The paper emphasises that Conceptual PlayWorld@homeLIVE as an innovative model of practice offers a design principle to use digital artefacts in sustaining and amplifying children’s exploration in their imaginary play situation. The data reported in this research was collected using zoom sessions over a period of four weeks with 8 families in Victoria. The data especially reports on the transformative potential for children to imagine and explore together with their caregivers in the Conceptual PlayWorld.

Paper 4:
Glykeria Fragkiadaki, Marilyn Fleer, Prabhat RaiDuring the very early years, children are extremely curious about the physical, technical, and technological world that surrounds them and this is when fundamental understandings about the world emerge and develop. However, limited empirical research is conducted on how infants and toddlers form STEM concepts and how early childhood educators can support this process in early childhood settings. This study captured how STEM concept formation begins during infancy and develops over toddlerhood and what pedagogical practices can support this process across age. The study is part of Australia’s first programmatic study of conceptual play in science, engineering, and technologies. The research design drew on the Conceptual PlayWorld model, a collective form of practice for learning and development through imagination and play. A cohort of 130 children participated in the study. An indicative case example is presented. Digital visual methods were used for data collection and analysis. The findings illustrated children form the concepts in interrelation to the degrees of freedom in their interactions with the physical, technical, technological as well as the social world. What was also found is that using the dominant motive of play teachers can orient children to science and support them to develop a science motive.
Tracey-Ann Palmer
ScienceSing: Inspiring upper primary students to engage with science through songPrimary school teachers play a pivotal role in developing childrens’ engagement with, and interest in, science. However, evidence suggests that many primary teachers are uncomfortable teaching science and need support. Songs can be effective in engaging students with science and a review of songs currently available was conducted. Most songs were not linked to the Australian curriculum and limited in the range of pedagogical practices they would support. There were many songs for lower primary but very few for upper primary. A new project, ScienceSing, aims to create song-based educational resources that are linked to the Australian Curriculum and specifically designed to engage upper primary students with science. Based on the results from a preliminary survey, eight curriculum-linked songs have been professionally produced. The songs are contemporary and, along with linked teaching resources, will be freely available for use under a Creative Commons licence. A study to determine the value of these songs as an engagement tool and the potentially to extend their use to support learning of scientific concepts and as a basis for student-centred and collaborative pedagogies is currently in progress.
Joseph Ferguson, Peta White
School strikers enacting politics for the environment – Daring to think differently about science and environmental educationTwo school strikers join two environmental education academics to explore what it means to be young people enacting politics for the environment in Australia. Niamh and Harriet are leaders of, and were integral to initiating, the highly effective School Strike 4 Climate – Australia (SS4C) movement. Joseph and Peta work in teacher education, preparing future teachers who will teach students who are increasingly climate savvy and politically active. To undertake this research with Niamh and Harriet as genuine co-researchers and co-writers, we needed to push back against institutional ethics protocols. The research was deemed not low risk due to the political focus and it was also nearly not approved as higher-than-low-risk due to the age of the school striker leaders. We highlight, through the lens of pragmatism and collaborative autoethnography, the political nature of what Niamh and Harriet have been undertaking as they negotiate social, cultural, educational and environmental issues implicated in the climate crisis. Through Niamh’s and Harriet’s experiences, we explore how young people express agency while developing identity. We highlight the changing nature of our student body demonstrated by Niamh’s and Harriet’s stories and call for us all to ‘dare to think’ differently about science and environmental education.
Carrie Swanson
Exploring how the Figured Worlds of five Auckland Primary/Intermediate schools affects the performance of scienceThe New Zealand [NZ] curriculum is a framework curriculum and therefore there is wide variation in science teaching. The research aim was to discover how science was taught at primary/intermediate schools in Auckland, NZ and the reasons for the pedagogical approaches chosen. International and national studies have highlighted student science understanding has been declining for over twenty years. This study may inform future directions to improve students’ understanding of science. Using an interpretive, qualitative approach, semi-structured interviews were used to ascertain senior management’s views on science teaching and learning from five schools. Themes were collated under Holland et al.’s (1998) key ideas of figured worlds, actors, actions and outcomes. The figured worlds ranged from innovative learning environments to single cell classrooms, with pedagogical approaches on a spectrum from integrated units to stand-alone experiments. It was apparent science learning was impacted by the figured worlds of the school and actions and outcomes deemed important by senior management. However, the performance of science was dependent upon the actor’s (teacher’s) self-efficacy, time allocated, resources available and positioning of science. This paper will comment on the similarities and differences between the figured worlds and the affordances and constraints offered to science teaching and learning.
(symposium continues)Marianne Logan, Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles, Lexi Lasczik, Antonia Canosa, Mahi Paquette
Looking at the intra-actions within/around/betweenThis presentation investigates the intra-actions within/around/between the spaces of a youth framed participatory research project that sought to explore the understandings of young people (aged 18-24) in relation to Marine debris. Nine young people as co-researchers, developed and implemented an action marine debris plan targeting young people who visited Byron Bay (Cavanbah) during ‘Schoolies week’ 2017. Byron Bay is an Australian coastal surfing town in Arakwal Bumberlin country within the Bundjalung Nation.
A posthuman theoretical framing underpinned this arts-based ethnographic project. Visual ethnographic research methods include: photography, videos, visual diaries, interviews and collaborative painting. With diffractive analysis we look at the intra-action of data rather than looking at data in isolation. We pay attention to the past, present, and future entanglements and diffraction of time (Barad, 2010). Indigenous, post-colonial, alternative, surfing and scientific cultures and knowledge “thread through each other in a nonlinear enfolding of spacetimemattering” (Barad, 2010, p. 244) within the Byron Bay location. The ‘intra-actions’ in contrast to ‘interactions’ mean “the events do not precede” one another but arise and this challenges the traditional conception of “causality” (Barad, 2007; 2010, p. 267). This paper provides vignettes of co-researchers’ stories woven within this ‘spacetime’ context.
Efrat Eilam
The Benefits of Establishing a Climate Change Subject in the CurriculumClimate change (CC) is commonly addressed in school curriculum through a cross-curriculum approach in which it is subsumed under various disciplinary-subjects. This framework of inclusion causes fragmentation and undermines the integrity of the field, posing challenges to teaching and learning. Here I make a case for including CC in the curriculum as a disciplinary-subject in its own right. The term discipline is understood as specialised knowledge in both structure and purpose. Subject is understood as the selection and organisation of disciplinary-knowledge for delivery. Disciplines emerge and morph as knowledge grows. The field of CC has been establishing itself incrementally over decades. Some concepts in CC can only be understood through disciplinary merges, where each of the disciplines-of-origin on its own is unable to provide a comprehensive explanation to CC problems. By establishing an independent CC-subject in the curriculum, multiple benefits will be gained, including: Enhancing the status of CC in the curriculum hierarchy, allocation of time and space in the school timetable, categories of examination, and accreditation, supporting the development of CC teacher professional identity, and inducting students into the discipline through the acquisition of skills, concepts and rules required for learning and working within the CC disciplinary space.
Helen Georgiou, Wendy Nielsen
“This just isn’t me”: Exploring the development of Preservice teachers STEM knowledge and confidence in a MakerspaceSTEM has been embraced in primary education, where it is common to find ‘STEM classrooms’ or Makerspaces. With increasing use of Makerspaces, there has been limited work with the primary preservice teachers [PST] group. PST commonly lack confidence in STEM-related subjects, particularly Engineering. In this research, we explore how Makerspaces 1) enable and constrain understanding of design and production processes; and, 2) foster PST confidence. PST worked in groups to design and construct a product as part of a formal task in a Science subject. In the multiple-case-study design (n=7 groups), data include: observations of the PST in the Makerspace over a period of 5 weeks (~7-15 hours); interviews with a subset of participants (n=9), artefacts such as pictures and course material; ‘heat maps’ of where groups worked in the space; and the final products. Results demonstrate considerable variation in how groups and individuals develop their knowledge and confidence, and notably, group functioning. Analysis shows that elements of the ‘Makerspace’ are related to critical moments in this development. We argue that PST can make extraordinary improvements in both knowledge and confidence, but this requires explicit and sustained support. Implications for Makerspace use in the primary context are discussed.
Morning Tea10:20-10:50
W210:50-12:50Christina Guarrella, Jan van Driel, Caroline Cohrssen
Assessment of science learning in early childhood: What influences teachers’ assessment practice?Australia’s science and innovation agenda has led to a multitude of science and STEM education strategies at the state level. In the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia, one such strategy was designed with preschool teachers in response to their calls for support to incorporate science in emergent early childhood curricula. One component of a suite of STEM curriculum resources, the ‘NT Preschool Science Games’ supports high quality pedagogy and children’s engagement in meaningful scientific experiences.
This presentation will examine the assessment practices of three teachers who participated in targeted professional learning aligned with the roll out of the NT Preschool Science Games. Included in the professional learning was a tailored, online platform designed to facilitate teacher assessment of science process skills. The teachers’ use of this assessment instrument will be qualitatively analysed to understand how teachers enact the Early Years Planning Cycle to assess science process skills in daily teaching practice. Further, thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews will illuminate the influences on teachers’ science assessment practices during their introduction to, and ongoing use of, the NT Preschool Science Games. Implications for early childhood assessment and planning models, teaching practice and policy will be discussed.
Leonie Rennie
Being Systematic in Science: A taxonomic biography of the Shark Bay Pearl ShellPatterns, order and organisation is one of the six key ideas underpinning the Australian Curriculum: Science. Observing – using the senses to gather information about an object or event – is the fundamental science process skill. By Year 3, Australian students are expected to “order their observations by grouping and classifying”. In the biological sciences, the system used to order observations of living things is taxonomic classification. Biologists use a system of binomial nomenclature, created by Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus in the 1750s, in which living things have a generic name and a specific name, based on their morphological features. Each living creature, thus described, will have its own unique name. But what happens when reputable sources disagree on that name? In this presentation, I document a taxonomic journey into the naming of one particular zoological species, the Shark Bay pearl shell, known until relatively recently by a diversity of biological names. This essentially scientific journey required delving into history and geography, as well as social, cultural, and political perspectives, to create a biography that explains how the Shark Bay pearl shell came to be known as Pinctada albina (Lamarck, 1819).
Yoon-Hee Ha, Hyeonjeong Shin, Hyun-jung Cha, Chan-jong Kim
The epistemic criteria used by pre-service teachers for evaluating the climate change model constructed by studentsThis study aims to explore the criteria that preservice teachers use to evaluate the climate change model constructed by students. The participants are 21 undergraduate students who major in earth science education. Preservice teachers learned the definition of a model, type of models, modeling, model-based learning in a major course. They also performed a task evaluating the ‘climate change model’ that high school students constructed in the modeling learning activity as a part of climate change club activities. In this study, we analyzed the report on climate change model evaluation written by the preservice teachers and conducted interviews. The data were categorized through open coding. It reveals that curriculum and epistemological criteria are used dominantly. Many preservice teachers used epistemological criteria to evaluate the interconnectivity between each factor of the Earth system. Some preservice teachers considered whether it is consistent with the science curriculum. Compared to prior studies, it was found that preservice teachers sometimes use different criteria than the evaluation criteria that students use when evaluating models. The findings are expected to provide the implication of model-based climate change education and give the information of teacher’s perceptions of the climate change model and model evaluation.
Cathy Bunting, Dayle Anderson, Dianne Christenson
Investigating students’ views of their science capability developmentIn New Zealand, five science capabilities have been identified in order to support teachers to help students develop a functional knowledge of the nature of science. They are: gather and interpret data, use evidence, critique evidence, interpret representations, and engage with science. As part of a three-year research project investigating the use of online citizen science projects in school science programmes, we needed to develop methods to assess students’ science capability development. This presentation will focus on our use of conversation prompts with student focus groups. We’ll also share examples that demonstrate how key features of the online citizen projects and classroom programmes seem to have contributed to students’ perceptions of what they had learned to be able to do.
David Lloyd
Learning Locally: TOSCG and Our FutureThis presentation, “Learning Locally: The Old School Community Garden and Our Future” was motivated by experiences teaching gardening to primary students at a community garden. As an experienced educator I was motivated by the wholistic nature of this approach to teaching that contrasts markedly with subject oriented learning in school rooms which traditionally provide limited chances to see the world as a whole and to address local needs such as organic food growing (and eating). The garden provides learning opportunities which spread across many discipline areas and values the cognitive, the affective and the spiritual nature of learning in the natural world. This nature teaching crosses the many disciplines students’ study and is part of the answer to livable futures in this time of climate change and the crossing of other Earth boundaries
Yaela Golumbic, Alice Motion
Citizen science in the Lab: Exploring unique learning experiencesCitizen science is a growing field of research and practice, in which volunteers engage in active scientific research. Participation in citizen science provides many learning opportunities and has shown to promote scientific literacy, critical thinking and social and environmental awareness. However, how this learning takes place, what factors are involved in this process and how to best promote learning through citizen science, are not well understood. In this paper, we aim to investigate the learning processes and outcomes of first year university students participating in the Breaking Good citizen science initiative as part of their first-year lab instruction.
Breaking Good engages students in the synthesis of brand-new molecules, contributing to ongoing drug discovery. Using interviews, questionnaires and guided conversations we illustrate a unique project environment, facilitating broad learning experiences and outcomes. Students describe the authentic nature of Breaking Good, and its impactful vision as a mediator of learning, and the hands-on lab experience as promoting this process. Learning outcomes include content, process and Nature of Science knowledge, elevated scientific skills and transfer of learning to daily life.
These results highlight the potential of citizen science to contribute to high-level learning and provide guidelines for future student engagement in citizen science.
Vaille Dawson, Efrat Eilam, Peta White, Helen Widdop Quinton, Gusti Agung Paramitha Eka Putri, Agung Wijaya Subiantoro, Sakari Toppanen, Tuba Gokpinar, Daphne Goldman, Orit Ben Zvi Assaraf, Rishi Krishnmoorthy,
A multi-country comparison of climate change curricula in secondary schoolsThere is little doubt that humanity is facing a critical time in its history. The combined challenges of COVID-19 and climate change mean that science education research is more important than ever in preparing young people for an uncertain future. The focus of this research is climate change education and its status in the compulsory years of secondary school across seven countries (Australia, Canada, Finland, Indonesia, Israel, UK, and the US). The authors used document analysis to interrogate formal school curriculum documents, specifically science and geography to determine the presence of climate change topics and the way they are addressed in these core subjects. The key findings are that: (1) the term ‘climate change’ appears in the formal curriculum of all seven countries in science and/or geography; (2) climate change is more likely to be presented as a context, example, or elaboration for other science skills than a discrete topic studied via a holistic approach; and (3) climate change education is sparse and spread over multiple years. This raises questions as to whether current school curricula can develop competencies for responsible, informed, and ethical decision-making regarding actions that impact climate.
Changmi Park, Hyun-Jung Cha, Seok-Hyun Ga, Chang Hyeon, Eom Sung-Eun, Lim Ji-Hye, Kwon Seoha Na, Hyeijin Um, Chan-Jong Kim
Development and Application of IoT-based STEAM Program for Citizen Scientist ActivityIn this study, the IoT technology-based STEAM program that students plan and execute as extreme citizen scientists was developed and applied to the middle school club activities and analyzed its effects. 17 students (age 14-15) participated in the activities, and after learning the basic concept of citizen science and atmospheric environment, they started citizen science activities. To analyze the effects of the program conducted in this study, the data were collected including activity data, STEAM core competency test sheet, online questionnaire, semi-structured interview, and researcher’s research notes. As a result, students showed a significant increase in the ‘convergence’ element among STEAM core competencies. In addition, students’ perceptions of science changed from that science was theoretically centered or that the results of the science experiment were the final achievement of scientific inquiry to that science was deeply connected to our lives and that voluntary scientific research could change their society. And students also showed improvement in their ability to perform inquiry by discussing with team members how to modify inquiry problems or control variables themselves and thinking about the most effective way to visualize data. Finally, students participated more actively in the overall process of inquiry and improved confidence in scientific inquiry.
Pauline Roberts
Local walks to engage young children in scienceScience is everywhere in the lives of young children; however, it is often overlooked by teachers in daily interactions with children and materials. This research aimed to engage teachers from an early learning context in science opportunities based on walks within the local area. As part of a larger project, a professional development session was provided that modelled engaging young children with weekly walks in nature. This presentation provides a case study of one site where the staff initiated walks with children in the local surroundings including a wetland area close to the setting. Data was collected through observations of interactions between teachers and children and interviews with the teachers to determine what changes to discussions occurred during the repeated walks. It was identified that the children began to notice more detail about their local environment and to make connections between the sites they were visiting. The changes in the teacher knowledge, skills and perceptions meant that more conversations were had with the children about the plants and animals they encountered, and questions became more complex to guide the young children’s inquiries. The results indicate that examples of implementation and scaffolded support can assist teachers to engage more effectively with young children and science in local contexts.
Reece Mills, Terri Bourke
Teaching and leading practices of primary school teachers with a science specialismScience teacher specialism in the primary school years is gaining advocacy internationally and within Australia, representing a significant shift in primary school education. Emerging scholarship has examined the varied teaching and leadership leading roles and responsibilities of these educators, however, there remains a paucity of critical scholarship problematising their work. In this small-scale qualitative study, we draw upon data generated from semi-structured interviews with six primary school teachers who identified as having a science specialism to answer the research questions: What are the teaching and leading practices of primary school teachers with a science specialism? and What factors enable and constrain the work of these educators? We used notions of practice architectures to thematically analyse the sayings, doings, and relatings of primary school teachers with a science specialism. Our findings relate to tensions around models of specialism practices as well as whether teacher specialism ought to be located in the primary school years. We consider the implications of our study for science education scholarship, policy, and practice.
Veerendra Prasad, Helen Widdop Qunton, Efrat Eilam
Teaching and Learning Climate Change Education: A Case Study of Upper Secondary Victorian SchoolClimate change (CC) is currently the most systemic threat to life on Earth. In spite of the severity and urgency of the looming crisis, literature reveals that there is scarcity in studies addressing nations’ CC curriculum implementation that is; taught and learnt in upper-secondary years. These years are particularly important, as they are the final formative school years prior to students’ entry to adult life. By focusing on one school as a case study, this research examines teaching and learning of CC education in Years 11-12, within a Victorian upper-secondary school. Specifically, examining how is CC education conceptualised and implemented by the teachers and attained by the students. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with upper-secondary teachers and their students.
The results indicate that CC is addressed in silos by the various subject teachers. Teachers rely mainly on their prior knowledge when teaching CC, and have no formal support, leading to inconsistency in pedagogical content knowledge. Students expressed eagerness to learn more, however, they rely on media, as sources of information. Suggestions are made for strengthening the formal, implemented and attained CC education.
Jeff Brown, Mahi Paquette
A genealogical study interrogating the STEM education agenda in Australia
In Western liberal democracies, political authorities charge themselves with responsibility for securing the state and its population. In contemporary neoliberal states like Australia, facilitating national and individual economic competitiveness is one condition of security and the institution of education is one instrument through which these ends are pursued. Australia, like other western democracies, has literacy, mathematics and science as high priorities in education, however, it has become clear that an additional Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) agenda is also well upon us.
This paper presents a beginning genealogy of the discourses, and events that have led to the emergence of the STEM education agenda as a curriculum priority in Australia. Informed by a Foucauldian theoretical perspective and Actor Network Theory, the emergence and shaping of ‘STEM Education’ is analysed through its articulation in key documents and artefacts. Looking to history to explain the present, the study casts a light over the relationship of STEM to the biopolitical aims of government by mapping political, social and governmental relations, events and power-knowledge claims that are the conditions of the agenda.
There is no such genealogy in the literature specific to the STEM agenda, therefore this study fills this gap in knowledge and will shed some light on the processes of governmentality in agenda formation. The research will provide background information to stakeholders, inform policy makers, and offer directions for further studies.
W31:40-3:40Melanie O’Leary, Bruce White, Yvonne Zeegers
Science teachers’ perceptions of what is important in STEMWhile STEM and STEM Education are not new, teachers’ perceptions of what STEM means and how his unfolds as STEM Education is evolving and this impacts on how teachers implement STEM in the classroom (Wang, Moore, Roehrig, & Park, 2011, The Office of The Chief Scientist,2017). It is therefore important when implementing STEM in schools to not only look at teaching approaches but also teachers understanding of STEM and what they consider to be important for STEM Education. At the beginning of a STEM project conducted in Catholic Education South Australia schools, project teachers were asked, in a text response as part of a survey, to identify what they considered to be the most important aspects of STEM teaching and learning and to rank these from the most to least important. In the second and third year of the project the aspects identified in Year 1 were listed in the survey and teachers were asked to rank their top 5. Interviews with teachers were used to unpack these aspects and how their understanding of STEM was changing.
The top two aspects identified by the teachers were consistently Authentic/ real-world problems and Critical thinking. Teachers commented on their increased confidence to implement STEM and their greater understanding of the complexity of STEM as the project progressed. Additionally, as their confidence in their own pedagogical approaches developed, their view of STEM developed and the teachers who tended to have more holistic views of STEM tended to implement Inquiry Projects that centred on integrated/interdisciplinary approaches.
John Willison
Metacognitive outcomes of research skill development across a science degreeThis paper presents a study on explicit Research Skill Development (RSD) and assessment in courses in the first two years of a Bachelor of Animal Science. In the fourth, research-focussed year (Honours) the metacognitive outcomes of RSD were investigated. This focus was taken because metacognition has been shown to be one of the most powerful factors affecting student learning that may be influenced by teachers.
Research question: What is the evidence for different levels of metacognitive thinking when fourth-year Bachelor of Animal Science students are interviewed about their development and use of research skills in multiple contexts across their degree?
The interpretivist methodology used semi-structured Interviews with students that were conducted 18 months after explicit research skill development. Interviews focused on probing for rich examples of students’ research thinking during their course-based experiences, however no questions cued metacognition explicitly. A 5-level metacognition framework was synthesised from the literature, comprising Core metacognition, self-Awareness, self-Monitoring, self-Regulating and cognitive Transfer (CAMRT) and used to analyse the interview transcripts.
Findings. There were rich examples of student self-Monitoring and self-Regulating in the transcripts, and there was evidence explicit RSD provided cognitive labels for student self-Awareness that enabled these higher levels of CAMRT. However, there was little evidence of close or far Transfer. Further investigation is needed to determine if higher levels of metacognition may be facilitated, in a variety of Science Education contexts, by a focus on student self-Awareness over extended periods of time that is facilitated by cognitive labels such as those provided by the RSD.
Julia Hill, Jan van Driel, Wee Tiong Seah, Margaret L Kearn
Developing an understanding and model of Australian student wellbeing in science educationComplementing the traditional focus on achievement, schools are increasingly striving to support students’ holistic development, including wellbeing, defined as how students feel and function across different dimensions (e.g., mentally, socially, cognitively). Despite much interest in general student wellbeing, wellbeing within individual subjects – such as science – is under-researched. Students often perceive science as irrelevant and boring, are disengaged with their classes, and express negative attitudes and emotions about the scientific topics. Achievement in international science assessments continues to decline for Australian students, further indicating low student wellbeing specific to science education. This paper explores the perspectives of 321 Australian Year 8 students to understand factors supporting science wellbeing. Students freely responded to the question: What makes you feel really good and/or function well in science? Responses were analysed using a combined deductive/inducive thematic analysis approach. Results support a seven-dimensional model of student science wellbeing, with engagement mentioned most frequently, then relationships, positive emotions, cognitions, accomplishments, meaning, and perseverance. This study illustrates the importance of focusing on student wellbeing within individual subjects and provides a model of relevant domains for understanding and building student wellbeing in science education in the future.
Felicity McClure, Mihye Won, David Treagust
Science teachers’ perceptions of creative thinking as a general capabilityCritical and creative thinking is one of seven general capabilities that the Australian Curriculum asks all teachers to foster to “enable students to live and work successfully in the 21st century”. However, while science teachers generally feel confident in developing critical thinking in students, they are less sure about what creative thinking in science looks like and how to encourage it. Thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews carried out with 13 science teachers in three Australian states revealed a wide variety of views about what creativity looks like in the science classroom. It revealed that some teachers hold restricted conceptions about what creative thinking in science entails, focusing on project-based or inquiry learning and communication of assignment responses in unique formats but not recognising the role of creative thinking in other classroom activities. They identified a number of barriers to both the teacher and the student in developing creative thinking skills, the most prominent of which were time limitations, pressure to cover curriculum content and assessment constraints. This study provides suggestions for supporting teachers in developing more diverse understandings of creative thinking and indicates some systemic concerns to address in order to support teachers and students in fostering creative thinking.
Lindsey Conner
Technology as integrator in STEM – co-curation and co-creationThe enthusiasm and “hype” for integrating STEM have not necessarily examined research on how using technologies can support co-curation and co-creation of new knowledge. The aim of this research was to elucidate effective technologies that act as enablers for integrating STEM. The synthetic literature review on increasingly sophisticated inclusion of technologies for learning in STEM contexts, produced evidence about applying technologies within problem-solving, inquiry and challenge activities as these augment the means to develop specialist knowledge, technical and generic skills and capabilities simultaneously. This includes accessing information, designing visual representations of data, refining and evaluating techniques, collaborating and communicating using technologies that also make it quicker to sort, navigate and co-create new knowledge as part of problem-solving local and global issues. The research revealed examples of STEM curriculum implementation that enabled creative innovation and the ability to connect virtually to make use of learning networks for co-curation and co-creation.
John Kennedy, Simon Leonard
Forming an understanding of students’ attitudes towards school ScienceMuch research over the last decade has warned of decreasing enrolments in and engagement with school science. Consequently, many programs have been developed with the aim of improving student attitudes towards the subject. However, student attitudes towards science are both multi-faceted and liable. This paper reports some of the initial findings from a longitudinal study at a South Australian school. Using the School Attitude Survey, we collected data from 866 students in Years 6 to 12 and this paper examines some of the students’ attitude trajectories towards science over the first year of data collection. Text mining and sentiment analysis were used to examine students’ explanations for their attitude ratings and some emerging patterns are discussed. We found that students’ intentions towards further study were most highly correlated with their perceived relevance and usefulness of school science. Furthermore, their ratings of enjoyability were strongly related to feelings of self-efficacy and lack of subject anxiety. Both positive and negative longitudinal trends in attitudes are evident and these are related to the students’ gender and their age. Finally, we found that students’ positive explanations tended to use emotive words related to student action, while their negative explanations referred to content and assessment.
Elvia Shauki, Destri Fitriani, Alfa Rahmiati
Engaging the Most Vulnerable: Challenges in Achieving Learning Outcomes during the COVID-19 PandemicThis study aims to explore input variables, the learning environment variables, and learners’ vulnerabilities that affect learning outcomes during the pandemic COVID-19. These outcomes include students’ perceptions of proficiency in learning materials, technology, and communication skills. Input-Environment-Outcome (I-E-O) Model posited by Astin (1991) and Astin and Antonio (2012) were used. The pandemic’s impact was measured by learners’ vulnerabilities to environmental variables. A survey targeting undergraduate accounting students in 2 (two) public universities in Indonesia was developed to obtain the I-E-O components. The data were analysed using content, thematic and constant comparative analyses. This study finds that gender, perception of computer skills (first-time or non-first-time experience), and distance from the main campus (access location to online learning) are the identified input variables. Whereas, learners’ perceptions of the importance of engagement among peers and with their lecturers are the recognised learning environment variables. The vulnerability caused by physical and social/economic factors were added to the environmental variables that potentially reduced learning outcome. Physical and social/economic vulnerabilities due to the ongoing pandemic COVID-19 were included in the I-E-O framework. This study has practical and social implications. The social implication was acknowledged by putting into account the vulnerabilities experienced by the learners to improve the learning outcomes.
Leana Coleman, Kathy Paige
Embedding critical and creative thinking in the lower secondary science curriculum: challenges and opportunitiesCurriculum policymakers acknowledge that critical and creative thinking (CCT) are vital twenty-first century skills, not only to meet future workforce demands but to enhance the personal and social well-being of all (Vincent-Lancrin et al, 2019). The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority have outlined Critical and Creative Thinking among the General Capabilities students are to develop in all learning areas, including Science. But achieving this in an era of standardisation and crowded curricula, within the constraints of the secondary school ecosystem, makes this an effortful – even countercultural – pursuit.
This exploratory case study examined the practice of nine exemplary science teachers, working in a range of secondary school contexts in South Australia as they embedded opportunities for CCT in Year 8 – 10 science curricula. Science lessons were observed over the course of a 5-week unit and interviews were conducted with teachers and student focus groups.
As well as showcasing the diversity of opportunities for students to engage in CCT, this paper also reports where tasks rich in potential for CCT were not embraced by students as intended. The enabling factors as well as the challenges for teachers for enacting a CCT-rich curriculum in science will be presented, and ways that teachers, schools and policymakers can address these issues will be considered.
Magdalena Kersting, Rolf Steier, Grady Venville
Exploring participant engagement during an astrophysics virtual reality experience at a science festivalVirtual reality applications turn abstract concepts into experienceable phenomena and present exciting opportunities to transform science education and public outreach practices. While research has started to look into the affordances of virtual reality (VR) in the formal science education context, the potential of these technologies to enhance public engagement with science is largely unexplored. To improve the way that VR may be used in informal learning and public outreach contexts, the purpose of our study was to undertake evidence-based investigations that explore the relationship between VR and public engagement. Aiming to identify and develop the benefits of VR technologies, we propose a conceptual framework for engagement with VR at a science festival that comprises four aspects of participant activity: immersion, facilitation, collaboration, and visualisation. This framework guided the research design of our exploratory case study of one VR tour at a science festival. Data included visitor surveys, video recordings, VR screen captures, and focus group interviews with outreach and science professionals. Our findings reveal important ways that VR supports visitor engagement at a science festival. More generally, these findings and our framework contribute to the ongoing efforts of engaging the public with science in more diverse informal learning contexts.
Ahmad Basheer, Najo Kortam, Ayshi Sindian
The level of green chemistry and sustainability awareness among pre- and in-service teachers in Israel, and their attitudes towards environmental educationIn this study, Israeli pre- and in-service science teachers were asked for their level of awareness about green chemistry, sustainability, and environmental education. Their views on the environment were also examined after the introduction of a unit on the chemistry of plastics. Out of 271 teachers who participated in the study, 123 of them were in-service science teachers with different seniority levels teaching in elementary, middle, and high schools and the remaining 148 were pre-service science teachers. The findings of the study showed that although teachers’ views on environmental education are mostly positive, their sustainability and green chemistry awareness is low in general. Moreover, teachers’ awareness about green chemistry and sustainability increases with the seniority levels. In-service science teachers were found to have more knowledge of green chemistry and sustainability than pre-service science teachers. After the intervention implemented for pre-service teachers (N=148), their level of green chemistry, sustainability, and environmental education awareness increased and their attitudes towards the environment became more positive. Also, pre-service teachers reported a high level of satisfaction with the intervention and noted that they will be more considerate about the environment around them.
Romy Hidayat, Febrina Sulistiawati, Elvia Shauki
Experiencing Online Learning During Global Pandemic COVID-19: A Study in Health EducationOnline learning in Indonesia encounters several obstacles, i.e., internet stability, limited quotas, and access to the internet. This is worsened as devices are scarce and internet stability becomes a major issue especially in remote areas. Another problem is the issue of new poverty in various corners of the region due to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic . This study explores the experiences, constraints, challenges, and strategies carried out by lecturers in carrying out online learning in health education. This research applies Social Stigmatization Theory to case studies using qualitative approaches. Observation and FGD were conducted with three health institutions in NTB Province. The study finds that due to the vulnerabilities of the students, the stigma in using sensible and responsible language are significant issues found among lecturers. The challenge is how to maintain students’ engagement in online learning delivery using a blended learning approach. The global pandemic provides a vast opportunity for lecturers and students to innovate further. The use of robotic practicum enhances students’ competencies in remote laboratory practicum. The study suggests safe and sensible practices in using shared facilities in the laboratory for practicum purposes, by managing the number of participants in the laboratory, managing schedules, and maintaining disinfection properly.
George Aranda, Joseph Paul Ferguson
Computational thinking, creative thinkingComputational thinking (CT) is a form of problem-solving that can be enacted by a human or a computer agent. While creative thinking (CrT) is an essential part of CT, manifestations of CT do not generally take into account the creativity in developing such solutions. In this paper, we investigate the creative nature of CT in STEM by utilising the PISA competency model of CrT as students participate in a design-based task to construct a of game tic-tac-toe. We explore video excerpts in which primary students undertook unplugged programming (UP) activities and analyse, using micro-ethnographic methods, specific instances in which CrT and CT overlap. In particular, we unpack the specific aspects of CrT that are afforded by the hands-on nature of UP as a particular manifestation of CT. Our findings show that CT in the form of decomposition, abstraction, logical and algorithmic thinking provides opportunities for students to be creative as they generate diverse and novel ideas. We consider this research as contributing to ongoing efforts of the CT community to make clear what this approach adds to accounts of the creative nature of STEM, in particular for supporting teachers to identify and support the development of students’ creative-computational thinking.
W43:50-5:10Poster Session

Maurizio CostabileComplex Immunological Concepts Can Be Effectively Taught Via Interactive Simulations

Miranda Ge, Jonathan Li, Amanda Berry, Julia Lamborn

Shu-Chiu LiuAssessing undergraduate students’ systems thinking competency using a scenario-based tool

Siamak Mirzaei, Mandi Dimtriadis, trent Lewis, Mirella WyraOnline Design Thinking Professional Development for School Teachers

Hayashi Nakayama, Tomokazu Yamamoto

Min-Erh Wei, Ching-Ting HsinExploring the teaching strategies and effect of a STEM project-based module for young indigenous children in Taiwan

Jinglu ZhangFactors Affecting the Assessment Quality of Students’ Scientific Argumentation Competency
Peter Ellerton
Teaching the nature of science through an understanding of argument structureThere is a significant body of literature showing the value of linking science and argumentation to improving student outcomes. Less explored is how students can better understand the nature of science itself by examining the connection between argumentation and the methodology of science as a form of inquiry. This paper will discuss how the key concepts of science, including laws, theories, proof and falsifiability, are developed from basic concepts of argument types and structure. Analysing scientific methodologies through the lens of argumentation can help students understand and justify the epistemic credibility of science, explain its limitations and misapplication, and ground it philosophically as a rational endeavor. This represents an important aspect of scientific literacy that goes beyond simply understanding scientific theories and knowing facts about the world.
Rui Wang, Aaron Britton, Harriett Godfrey, Aidan Fenney, Michelle Ellefson
Executive functions and the suppression of naïve thinking in science education: a cognitive psychology task exploring the relationship between inhibition ability, cognitive flexibility and science learningHow to correct students’ misunderstanding of counterintuitive science theories such as ‘the Earth is flat because the ground seems flat’ has long been discussed. Previous studies found that naïve thinking is not replaced by scientific thinking but is suppressed when counter-intuitive conflicts are encountered; furthermore, the inhibition ability (an important executive function) is involved in this suppression process. To explore this further from a cognitive perspective, this research tests 151 adults using four computerised cognitive tasks that test interference and behaviour inhibition abilities, cognitive flexibility (another executive function) and counterintuitive science reasoning respectively. Results indicate that cognitive flexibility is positively related to the ability to suppress naïve thinking and has different links to two forms of inhibition, indicating that the suppression of naïve thinking and the activation of scientific thinking occurs simultaneously when solving counterintuitive science questions. This result suggests that when teaching counterintuitive science theories, 1) providing students more time to solve those counterintuitive questions that require complex cognitive processes and 2) emphasising and better explaining correct science theories during teaching to shorten the time to activate new information (as opposed to merely emphasising that naïve ideas are wrong) might improve students’ learning outcomes.
Kim Nichols
Multi-Organisational Collaboration to Develop A Sustainable Model of Stem Professional LearningThe proposition this symposium explores is that an ecosystems model for STEM learning is needed to positively impact student’s engagement in STEM. The three presentations in this symposium revolve around a sustainable model of a community-based STEM professional learning program (PLP) developed through a research collaboration between universities, the Queensland Department of Education (DoE) and the Queensland Museum (QM). The study is part of a larger collaborative ARC project on STEM professional learning for teachers of middle years. This unique confluence of a STEM PLP with its impact on pedagogy, student learning and engagement will be explored through a range of perspectives including those of the researchers, QM educators, teachers from a case study school and the DoE.

Paper 1: The STEM PLP
Kim Nichols, Chae SwindellThis part of the symposium explains and explores the STEM PLP. The PLP involved the development of a broad range of STEM collaborative inquiry problem solving and career-focused resources for middle school science classrooms. This PLP, developed through collaboration between researchers, QM educators and museum scientists, brings a unique perspective to STEM inquiry and has the potential to be sustained beyond the project. In this presentation, the evolving nature of the PLP will be discussed from a collaborative project piloting key features of the PLP that informed the current ARC project and present-day museum strategies. A QM educator will reflect and share her lived experience of the process and development of the PLP. This presentation will explore the intersectionality of the PLP between the diverse perspectives of educational researchers, scientists and educators as well as the implications of the collaboration for sustainable STEM professional learning.

Paper 2: A Case Study School
Rose Wood, Mel O’Brien, Hailey JohnsonThis project was conducted alongside the Queensland DoE’s Advancing STEM in Primary Schools (ASPS) initiative with the Department and with schools participating in this initiative as partners. In this part of the symposium the DoE will discuss intentionality of the ASPS alongside the ARC study in terms of their STEM initiatives for Queensland schools. They will also highlight the aims, goals and process with its availability of resources for teachers. The DoE perspective of successful case examples from the initiative including a case study school from the ARC project will be explored. Following this, participating teachers from a case study school will elaborate on their experiences with the enactment of the STEM problem solving tasks in their primary science classrooms. They will analyse their contextualized implementation of the PLP’s model of inquiry for effective student engagement. The teachers will share their collective endeavor of STEM education and how they modeled the PLP in their school for other teachers. A consistent observation across this school’s network of primary teachers is that student engagement was improved, and literacy skills were enhanced through this collaborative study. Furthermore, teachers perceive that their students’ individual needs are being accommodated through the STEM inquiry approach. Greater insight into the broader classroom context and teachers’ mediation of the students’ group problem solving activities will be provided through the teachers’ reflection on the enactment of the professional learning in their classrooms.

Paper 3: Impact and Sustainability of the STEM PLP
Reshma Parveen, Kim Nichols, Joseph NagyIn this presentation researchers will utilise empirical data to discuss how the collaboration and unique model of STEM PLP impacted students’ attitudes and agentic engagement, the translation of students’ inner capabilities into meaningful actions for learning. Discourse analysis of student small group inquiry tasks revealed characteristics of agentic engagement including students’ offering input, expressing preferences, offering a suggestion or contribution, asking questions, communicating their thinking, solving problems, seeking clarification, generating options and reflecting on their learning. Further analyses of student and teacher talk suggests that these actions can contribute to, modulate, or shift the flow of instruction in the classroom and in this way agentic engagement involves self-regulation, with associated cognitive and metacognitive benefits. We will discuss how students act as epistemic agents; individuals or groups who take, or are granted, responsibility for learning. Alongside these findings, survey data shows an improvement in students’ enjoyment of science, their self-efficacy as well as significant shifts in their attitudes towards inquiry and STEM careers. The symposium will conclude with an exploration of the theoretical approach to the study based on an ecosystems model (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006) that recognises that teachers are embedded in classrooms in schools within communities and that interactions within and between these can affect students’ experiences, engagement, attitudes, and learning. Ecological Systems Theory will be used as a lens to explore the sustainability of this model of STEM professional learning.

Sally B. Gutierez, Moonhyun Han
Female elementary student’s social construction of epistemic emotions: Effects on her patterns of participation in small-group scientific argumentation and modelingThis qualitative single-case study explored how a female student’s socially constructed emotions affected her patterns of participation in the six lessons that comprised the small group scientific argumentation and modeling of the human respiratory system. Various data such as emotion diaries, transcripts of the video recordings, post-lesson interviews, and field notes were analyzed through constant comparison method. Iterative analyses were done to explore how she constructed the epistemic emotions of frustration, anxiety, and joy and how these emotions facilitated the patterns of her participation in their small group scientific argumentation and modeling of the human respiratory system. She constructed frustration in Lesson 1 because of her difficulty in constructing claims with evidence and this facilitated her non-participation. In Lessons 2 and 3, she constructed anxiety because of her uncertainty in her opinions. However, despite being anxious, she was able to contribute passively with elicited responses. Finally, she constructed epistemic joy which facilitated her active participation in Lessons 5 and 6 after gaining familiarity on how to engage in scientific argumentation and appreciating the advantages of scientific modeling to understand the abstract concepts of the human respiratory system.
Seamus Delaney
Establishing a chemistry education research-oriented professional learning community with teachers through co-design methodologyTangible benefits of science education innovation risk not being realised unless teachers and practitioners are meaningfully involved. Design-based research has been proposed as a means to develop and refine interventions whilst keeping the theory and practice relationship at the forefront for all involved. This paper presents on an ongoing professional learning communities project, which has the research aim to inform on and support secondary chemistry teachers to implement different aspects of chemistry education research (CER) in their teaching. After initial workshops, groups of teachers are co-supported to develop and implement a CER-informed research project in their schools. They evaluate their intervention by collecting evidence ethically from students, before presenting their findings (in teacher conferences, professional magazines) which encourages them to contribute back to the larger teaching community. In 2020, two groups of teachers completed this cycle, one focussing on explicit teaching strategies supporting chemistry literacy development, and another on situating sustainable development in the chemistry classroom through systems thinking. This paper reports on evidence collected from the teachers involved, acknowledging their importance in the co-design research process, including pre- and post-surveys, artefacts and semi structured interviews, that has helped framed the involvement of future cohorts of teachers in the project.
(symposium continues)