But where is the cognitive science and the knowledge?

I’ve just received an email from TES advertising a book they are publishing titled: tes guide to STEM.I was hoping to see a summary of the best evidence based STEM practice. I haven’t read the book, so I might be 100% wrong here but the choice of topics covered strike me as odd – maybe old fashioned.

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email advert from TES advertising Tes Guide to STEM

The first point – getting girls into stem – is huge. Getting all underrepresented groups into STEM is huge. The ASPIRES2 project is a 10 year longitudinal study into the career choices of young people. One key factor for young people choosing STEM careers is having a close relative in a STEM career. This is tricky to influence as a teacher. It may be that interviewing an actor does the job. Let’s see.

The second point – making STEM lessons more practical – seems obvious, but I question it. We all enjoy a good practical, just like we all enjoy colouring in or playing about on bongos. Enjoyment does not necessarily lead to expertise or career choice. I would like to see evidence showing the impact of practical work delivered well. If the TES has found it, I’m looking forward to reading it.

Point 3 – cross curricular links – I’m not against this, but I’d question the efficiency. It takes a lot of organising and compromise to link science to history, art, geography – and to what end? Developing and delivering subject specific CPD seems more likely to lead to improvements. I’ll read with interest.

I love the maker movement. Let’s see where this leads. My sister is involved, and she credits ‘the great egg race’ with her interest in engineering (although I think our grandfather was also a deciding factor).

Using your local UTC and local businesses as a resource… Again, why not? But it’s what goes on day-in day-out in the classroom that makes a difference, not an infrequent intervention delivered by another organisation. But perhaps this allows young people to see STEM as a viable career choice.

My real issue is this – where is the cognitive science? Where is the knowledge? If the tes thinks this is what science teachers want (and possibly they are right), I am miles out of the loop.


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