THE POTENTIAL ROLE OF GENDER IN THE IMPLEMENTATION AND SUSTAINABILITY OF ENGINEERING-DESIGN BASED METHODOLOGY IN STEM TEACHING
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Even though no consensus exists on the implementation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teaching, there appears to be a unanimous agreement on the integrated nature of this teaching approach. The level of integration and the platform on which this integration is to be achieved is thus far, not well defined. One of the most frequently proposed platforms on which integration maybe hinged is the engineering-design based teaching, a paradigm in STEM teaching, either as a methodology on its own or as a realization of problem-based teaching. This choice of methodology stems from the premise that engineering naturally incorporates all other STEM disciplines, namely science, technology and mathematics. Engineering/engineering-design is problem-based and real-world solution driven, therefore this teaching model is deemed by engineering educators as an excellent platform on which STEM teaching can be launched. It gives the students the opportunity to combine all four disciplines as is done in solving problems in real-world situations. One expected outcome of this methodology is that more students will show increased interest in pursuing STEM careers. It is also viewed as a way to address the gender gap which persists in many STEM disciplines particularly in the engineering field. Whilst focus has been placed on gender-inclusive education, the gap between males and females in fields such as physics and engineering is still not closing. A likely explanation could be that there is an insistence on gender dichotomy in societies. This dichotomy promotes gender bias career fields and interest from very early in the life of the female. It is possible, that female teachers therefore may make less use of engineering-design as pedagogy for STEM teaching as this is not a typical field in which females are expected to be a part of and or excel in and therefore shows less interest. In many primary and secondary schools there are usually more female (science) teachers than males. Consequently, the likelihood of implementing STEM teaching using engineering-design may be affected. It may lead to disengagement on the teacher and or female student levels resulting in the subversion of both the methodology and STEM teaching. It is against this background that the following literature research intends to examine the sustainability of STEM teaching by way of the engineering-design model. This literature research therefore looks at the potential impact of gender on the implementation and sustainability of the engineering-design model as a “best practice” pedagogical approach for STEM teaching.
Keywords: Gender and STEM teaching, engineering-design, STEM teaching, STEM education.