what do STEM teachers Really think?

What do STEM teachers really think?

Working closely with so many STEM teachers gives us a golden opportunity to gather opinions and share information across the community. So, as part of the first inGenious pilot study in which 170 teachers across Europe took part, we asked them about their attitudes towards STEM and experiences of teaching industry activities, the challenges faced in the classroom and what they wanted from being part of inGenious.

Serious about STEM

Given that most of you participating in inGenious teach STEM subjects, it is no surprise how important you think they are. What was revealing, however, is that a massive 97% of teachers believe in the necessity of teaching STEM in a real-life context and that 95% enjoy teaching that involves practical applications – two of the very things that inGenious activities are designed to do. In addition, 96% feel that they need to know more about recent scientific discoveries and industrial applications.

Educational challenges

We all know that teaching pupils STEM subjects carries challenges, but the replies helped us to look into the issues in detail. For example, slightly more than a half of respondents (52%) did not see their students as being very enthusiastic about maths and almost three quarters felt that most pupils found it hard to study the subject, while 65% felt their students had the same problems learning science. Another sure sign that inGenious has a role to play was that 79% of teachers said their pupils knew little about the job opportunities in STEM subjects.

Fixing the problem

The teachers’ responses showed they are clear about the obstacles they face – but also about potential remedies to these challenges. Asked what they hoped to achieve by becoming part of inGenious, the number one answer was to improve their pupils’ interest in both STEM subjects and in science and technology careers.

Educators are also on the look-out for new ways to enliven their lessons and obtain new teaching resources was given as the second most popular reason for joining up.

In addition to activities – with hands-on kits being a stand-out winner in the popularity stakes – three-quarters of teachers wanted pupils to get a better idea of working in industry through company visits. Again, this is an area where involvement with inGenious can help.

Understanding wants, fulfilling needs

What teachers are telling us is that practical activities are useful for them, to spark pupils’ interest in STEM subjects and careers; and that the involvement of industry can also motivate young people who have never thought about entering the world of science, technology or engineering after leaving school.

"And that is exactly what the inGenious community is here for. It’s a place where teaching professionals, industry and families can work together to help pupils get to grips with difficult subjects, realise their worth in the real world and seriously consider pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering and maths", says Marc Durando, managing director, European Schoolnet.