ASSESSMENT OF THE CURRENT SITUATION OF STEAM NON-FORMAL EDUCATION AND FUTURE NEEDS: THE CONTEXT OF THE OPINIONS OF STUDENTS ATTENDING THE 5TH–10TH FORMS
In Lithuania, STE(A)M education is a new object which is actualised by scientists and practitioners over the latter five years; whereas the said initiative counts almost 15 years in Europe and the USA. Lithuanian scientists and representatives of the education policy provide a refined concept of the STEAM, while focusing on the opportunities for integral education, enhancement of interdisciplinary integration. Moreover, the educational content, the documents regulating it are being updated, preparation of new educational means is being initiated, the necessity of pedagogues’ qualification development and expression of school students’ developed competences are emphasised. Schools together form the STEAM network of schools, apply STEAM qualification development programmes, and ten open-access centres will be founded by 2020. The research aims to answer the following problem questions: What is the popularity of STEAM non-formal education subjects? What causes determine school students’ choices of STEAM subjects being selected or not selected? How is the performance of the STEAM open-access centre-to-be-opened in Šiauliai city evaluated and what is the striving of school students to become engaged in it?
The research aims to find out the opinions of school students attending the 5th–10th forms on to the situation of STEAM non-formal education in Šiauliai city and to assess their needs in relation to the performance of the STEAM open-access centre.
Methodology: 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. The data obtained from closed type questionnaires was processed using the methods of statistical analysis . The research involved 577 respondents.
The research data reveals that the causes of low popularity of extracurricular classes of STEAM subjects are: sufficient occupation of school students by both formal and non-formal education, the occurring shortage of time and dislike of STEAM subjects. Such situation also forms due to the lack of information on the said extracurricular classes and limitedness of its distribution measures. Majority of the respondents who are interested in engaging in formal education and not extracurricular activities would participate in activities of the STEAM open-access centre being founded in Šiauliai city. This opinion is more frequently emphasised by students of the 9th–10th forms; it is likely that the latter are interested in attainments and grades related to the taught subjects.
Students of all forms that participated in the survey assess the forms of non-formal education at the STEAM centre (teamwork, independently conducted testing and experiments, participation in research activities of scientists etc.) in a similar manner and quite highly. Students of senior forms favoured theoretical lectures, preparation for lesson activities more, which proves importance of interaction between non-formal and formal education. School students emphasise importance of qualified specialists, new equipment and modern environment in the STEAM open-access centre, whereas they emphasise the educational content and forms less strongly.