Immersive STEM learning experiences to shape shared futures: Insights from the STEM Teacher Internship Programme

Hurley, Mairead, Butler, Deirdre and McLoughlin, Eilish (2021) Immersive STEM learning experiences to shape shared futures: Insights from the STEM Teacher Internship Programme.


This White Paper presents an ambitious vision for the type of education system required to prepare learners for the future. It contains a strong focus on integrated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, essential for developing the necessary competences to thrive in our complex, ever-changing world. Within such a holistic and equitable education system, these learners will be equipped to realise a planet with thriving and sustainable societies, economies and environment.

We posit that teachers are the catalyst to realising this vision and ensuring that effective, sustainable systematic change happens. However, they cannot do it alone and will need the support of a range of stakeholders and actors to create this effective learning ecosystem. Considering this and also the point that the most impactful moment to influence the teachers of the future is during their initial teacher education - when they are fully immersed in the processes and practices of active, situated learning - designing an intervention that focused on working with initial teachers seemed the logical starting point. If these teachers are to design authentic learning experiences which integrate core STEM competences within real-world contexts, we believe it is essential that they have first hand experience in these contexts themselves. Only with such a rounded experience, will they be in a position to inspire truly innovative STEM learning in their classrooms. These ideas are what led to the development of the STEM Teacher Internship (STInt) Programme, which encapsulates clearly how building partnerships between teacher educators, student teachers and industry can play a part in shaping the shared futures of the next generation of Irish students.

This White Paper argues that two major challenges are:
– Inequities in education broadly, and specifically issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM education, which lead to inequities in STEM professions and careers.
– The need for consensus between research/higher education, policy and practice when it comes to STEM education, and the need for capacity-building measures to support teachers to deliver integrated STEM education.

We propose two recommendations for actions to address these challenges:
- Build and deepen teachers’ understanding of integrated STEM education through immersive professional experiences in real-world STEM contexts.
- Develop and strengthen the connections across and between actors within the STEM learning ecosystem to improve learner outcomes.

View Item