Global Perspectives, Experiences and Implications
Edited By Robert A. DeVillar, Binbin Jiang and Jim Cummins
CHAPTER THREE: Transforming Education by Contextualizing Professional Learning for Teachers: A Case in Science and Mathematics in Australia: Debra L. Panizzon, Mark Ward, & Martin Westwell
Debra L. Panizzon, Mark Ward, & Martin Westwell
Ascientific and mathematically literate society is considered by many stakeholders in Australia to be a political imperative if we are to ensure our future prosperity. In reality, Australia and many other OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries are facing shortages of engineers, physicists, and mathematicians (Department of Education, Science and Training, 2006; OECD Global Science Forum, 2006; Pearce, Flavell, & Dao-Cheng, 2010). Research in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) area highlights a range of factors influencing students’ choices to continue in senior high school subjects leading on to these careers. A number of key factors include students’ attitudes and intrinsic motivations (Lindahl, 2003; Lyons, 2006), the perceived difficulty of the discourse of these subjects (Bennett, 2003; Osborne & Collins, 2001), the impact of curricula on students’ perceptions of themselves as learners (OECD, 2004; Rennie & Goodrum, 2007), and the traditional pedagogical approaches often used by teachers in these subjects (Goodrum, Druhan, & Abbs, 2011; Sjøberg, 2000). This is an important and complex issue requiring a coordinated approach among teachers, parents, and community members (e.g., industry and other stakeholders) working with our students beginning in primary grades and following through to high school (Panizzon & Westwell, 2009).
To this end, substantial money is being invested in national and state-based projects in Australia to increase the participation rates of students in science and ← 65 | 66 → mathematics in senior high school in order to create a...