PUPILS’ OPINION ON THE SITUATION OF NON-FORMAL EDUCATION INVOLVING STEAM SUBJECTS AND THE NEED FOR IT IN ŠIAULIAI CITY
Aiming to implement one of the priorities of Lithuanian education strategy, i.e. the development of the STEAM education, Šiauliai County Open Access Centre for Natural Sciences, Technological, Engineering, Mathematical Research and Experimental Development Activities is being founded in Šiauliai city. The purpose of the centre is to provide the opportunities for pupils to get not only acquainted with the laws of science, recent technologies, discoveries, but also to conduct scientific experiments, research, laboratory, project tasks themselves. To make the STEAM centre a centre of creators of innovations, it is important to answer the problem questions: how do pupils assess STEAM subjects taught at school, how to increase pupils’ motivation to learn STEAM subjects, what is pupils’ satisfaction with non-formal education activities (including STEAM)?
The research aims to find out the pupils’ opinions regarding the situation of non-formal education involving STEAM subjects and the need for it in Šiauliai city.
In 2017, a written survey of 5-10 form pupils’ was carried out in Šiauliai city comprehensive education schools. The researchers designed the research instrument grounding on defined and specified diagnostic areas and characteristics of the research. Each research objective had formulated particular statements which became meaningful indicators allowing identification of the respondents’ common attitudes towards the situation. The data obtained from closed type questionnaires was processed using the methods of statistical analysis . The research involved 577 respondents.
The research results reveal that STEAM subjects are not among the most favoured by pupils of 5-10 forms; on the contrary, these taught subjects are identified as boring, not interesting and difficult to learn. This emphasises the direct correlation between the choice of non-formal education classes and popularity of taught subjects. All this should be implemented through the close interaction between formal and non-formal education, increasing subject-related and methodical competence of teachers and instructors of groups, searching for involving methods and using recent technologies. The pupils who have chosen activities of non-formal education are happy with them; and the subjects basically meet their expectations, which is illustrated by the research data revealing that quality and benefit of non-formal education services are assessed by the respondents as very high, underlining the STEAM, characterising the quality of non-formal education activities in sports and art as less prominent. The most important reasons to attend non-formal education groups as listed by pupils are: interesting field, admirable instructor of the group, opportunity to express oneself. However, non-formal education is little linked to the future profession or extra-curricular activities, with some small part of the respondents stating they wish to expand and deepen knowledge on the subjects taught at school. Such research data is supported by the situation in comprehensive education schools in Lithuania: over 50 per cent of non-formal education classes comprise sports groups, whereas STEAM subjects or other groups of non-formal activities cover only 6 per cent each. Both girls and boys similarly assess the importance of majority of the reasons to choose non-formal education classes.