Message from Step Up Project Leader
Professor Les Dawes
I would like to recognise the collaborative effort of our partners. We have achieved some outstanding innovations and outcomes through purposeful relationships across disciplines, institutions and school systems. It takes a long time to build relationships, trust and an understanding of each other’s perspectives, but to contribute to this complex issue around initial teacher education it has been important to build connections and true collaboration beyond discipline and institutional boundaries.
Overall, ETMST (Enhancing the Training of Mathematics and Science Teachers Programme) projects were awarded $12 million. Step Up was one of five projects that sought to identify where significant change and impact can be made – going beyond traditional approaches that have involved providing more content, method and resources, and reconceiving what is possible through collaboration between practising scientists, mathematicians and teacher educators – as we prepare the next generation of our nation’s science and mathematics teachers.
The need for educational innovation is at odds with the organisational constraints that are common in Universities. We have all experienced institutional obstacles like course structures, student selection, subject pre-requisites as well as different and sometimes competing professional priorities across disciplines. This project allowed us to break down some of those competitive barriers, but there are always challenges. The challenge with learning and teaching innovations is to get people to take risks – not to simply do more of the same; not to focus solely on their area of research expertise and not to see this as just another “flash in the pan” agenda that we’ll eventually get past. Another critical challenge is to make sure the key ideas/learnings/recommendations that inform higher education practice get beyond generality.
This project focused on action learning throughout, through model approaches to push the boundaries in order to influence education reform. These model approaches (CAPs- Collaborative Action Projects) were designed together (across disciplines and institutions) and funding was tied to these collaborations. These CAP’s were trialled in different institutional contexts for transferability and sustainability to other institutions and contexts. This approach allowed us to develop a critical mass across Queensland. The project also delivered a number of unintended outcomes which will benefit STEM teacher education into the future.