TEACHERS’ PERCEPTIONS ON STEM TEACHING WITH DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES IN THE LOWER SECONDARY SCHOOL
Università degli Studi di Firenze (ITALY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 17th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2023
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Scientific knowledge and skills are key aspects needed to be active citizens able to make informed decisions regarding scientific questions that may arise from everyday life. Formal education plays a fundamental role to develop the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) literacy and promote a scientific culture among the new generation (Fallon et al., 2020). However, the Italian context showed a low level of scientific competence and knowledge in students of secondary schools (e.g., PISA 2018). An appropriate integration of digital technologies into STEM teaching practice may help face this issue for the several affordances of ICT for STEM education as a positive impact on motivation and interest towards the disciplines and on the learning gains (Roffi, Cuomo, Ranieri, 2021). In particular, the possibility to take advantage of the visual component for teaching scientific concepts or phenomena not easily explored in the classroom provides an added value (Arici et al., 2019; Garcia, Conesa & Perez-Navarro, 2022). Unfortunately, the use of technologies presents some hurdles, due to the difficulties for teachers in using the digital tools and integrating them in their teaching activities, as emerged during the pandemic period (Carretero Gomez et al., 2020) and documented in previous reports as Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018 (OECD, 2019; OECD, 2020). Also teachers’ attitudes and beliefs towards technologies are relevant for pedagogical innovation (Margot & Kettler, 2019), including the STEM area, therefore a better understanding of STEM teachers’ point of view may help in designing improved training practices.
This work explored teachers' perceptions on STEM teaching collecting data about their practices, opportunities and challenges of using ICT. With the support of the Scholastic Office of Tuscany, a questionnaire was delivered on Google Form addressing Italian STEM teachers. The questionnaire included 11 questions, organized in 3 areas: General Information, Experience in STEM Teaching, Digital technologies’ use. The questionnaire was filled in by 234 Italian teachers on a voluntary basis. For the majority of teachers, one of the main challenges in STEM teaching is to stimulate student interest and, according to their perception, the major difficulties faced by students approaching STEM learning is the identification of study methods and the transfer of knowledge to the real world. Teachers use ICT in their teaching practice to make lab experience, for practical exercise, to explain abstract concepts, while those not using them declare that the main reasons are the lack of skills, time for integrating it into teaching practice and the difficulties in accessing technologies.
These results highlighted that teachers clearly expressed the need to be trained on how to use digital technologies for STEM teaching and on how to support the development of students' metacognitive skills. However, the hurdles faced by teachers in using technologies (lack of time, skills and the problem in accessing technologies) requires an approach that involves the whole Institute (Ranieri, 2017), creating a synergy between all school actors. Finally, teachers perceived the importance of engaging students in STEM learning, stimulating and cultivating their interest toward the scientific disciplines, and this challenge has been confirmed to be the biggest one to address for STEM education improvement and innovation.
Keywords: STEM teaching, ICT, Teachers perceptions.