The Future of Education

Edition 12

Accepted Abstracts

Encouraging Students into STEM Related Disciplines

Eduardo Gerlein, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Colombia)

Sonya Coleman, Ulster University (United Kingdom)

Anne Hinds, Ulster University (United Kingdom)

Heather Sayers, Ulster University (United Kingdom)

Abstract

Recent studies around the world have identified a generalized trend in decreased number of students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  Many causes have been attributed to this situation, being lack of interest and aptitude in the first places. The lack of interest might be motivated by the poor contact that the school system currently provide regarding the developing of skills required in the STEM areas, in addition to a more generalized usage of technology in daily life that might cause that the need of engaging in a career in technology might not be seen as an attractive as before. This paper presents the methodology designed for a short course in Introduction to Programming based on constructivist learning theories, aimed to the last two years of secondary school in Northern Ireland, in which active learning is achieved through the presence of a large component of guided practice as a mechanism of knowledge consolidation in conjunction with encouraged collaborative learning. The basic concepts of computer programming are brought closer to secondary level students attempting a double objective: to create opportunities for learning in the context of the progress to third level education while at the same time providing pupils with sufficient knowledge to help them make informed decisions on undertaking further study and pursuing a career in computing and engineering disciplines, thereby improving retention within the subject. Assessments of the course have been gathered for several cohorts as means to evaluate the impact and possible influence in the career selection.

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