VIP STEM Education & Public Engagement (International) : Gambia Project 2019

Collins, Robert and Catlin, Jane (2019) VIP STEM Education & Public Engagement (International) : Gambia Project 2019. [Report]

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    Abstract

    Vertically Integrated Project: STEM Education & Public Engagement (International) The Vertically Integrated Project: STEM Education & Public Engagement was created in 2015 by Robert Collins of the School of Education, Faculty of HaSS at the University of Strathclyde. The project’s ongoing aims resonate with a fostering of both interdisciplinary approach to learning and the development of enhanced communities of inquiry in the field of STEM Education. Within the project students are involved in creating and sustaining STEM Education Clinics in local Scottish schools and public engagement events within their related local communities. In so doing, the project not only develops students’ own STEM domain knowledge - and intra–professional and inter-personal skills sets in students - but also seeks to promote the development of STEM literacies acquisition of stakeholder communities in which these clinics are set. Although the VIP’s initial aspirations are towards developing all participants’ predicate socio-scientific discourse, it is also known that subsequent associated specialist STEM knowledge and skills set acquisitions this activity promotes are considered a much-valued commodity in the wider political and economic spheres. This is particularly relevant in terms of citizenship attainment of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (particularly that of SDG 4 Quality Education and SDG 5 Gender Equality) in practice. It is envisaged therefore, that protracted iterations of the project will elicit valuable STEM Literacies’ attainment across the longer term. To this end, domestically in Scotland the current project has taken the form of an evaluative study of STEM Education enhancement within local community schools identified in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) areas 0-20 and 0-40. Emphasis here was placed on the investigation of participant argumentation within STEM through use of the Modified Toulmin Argument Pattern (ModTAP) Analytical Framework (Foong & Daniel, 2010).Crucially, the VIP is timely in supporting the national drive towards bridging attainment gap and gender imbalance in STEM Education study, is aligned to creativity regarding STEM study in Scottish schools and chimes with precepts highlighted in the Scottish Government’s recent National Improvement Framework. With this in mind, in Academic Session 2018-19 it was decided that the early successes of the domestic project might be usefully replicated internationally. To this end a small exploratory case study in Summer 2018-19 in Gambia was able to identify that there may indeed be scope for the VIP to extend internationally within Gambian schools. This successful pilot study was then followed up in Academic Session 2018-19 with a view to working toward a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education in Gambia towards introducing the programme, which had already been run so successfully in Scotland, in the near future. This report then outlines the process of investigation, scope for furthering student study internationally within the VIP: STEM Education & Public Engagement and the appetite for its adoption as a key STEM pedagogical driver in Gambian schools moving forward.