Changing STEM and Entrepreneurial Thinking Teaching Practices and Pedagogy Through a Professional Learning Program

  • Lihua XuEmail author
  • Coral Campbell
  • Linda Hobbs


With the recent endorsement of STEM education as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda by the Australian Government, the challenge facing educators is how to meaningfully embed STEM-related knowledge, skills, and dispositions in all levels of schooling. Educators and researchers are becoming increasingly interested in investigating how to support students’ learning in STEM and what teaching approaches are most conducive for developing investigative, design, and reasoning skills. Such consideration of STEM in education acknowledges a proliferation of multiple understandings of STEM education and the emerging diversity of approaches to STEM teaching. Teachers need to be supported to develop their own approach within the contexts of their own school and learning needs. This chapter reports on teachers from primary schools in Victoria who were involved in a professional learning program specifically designed to build their confidence and capacity for teaching STEM through inquiry-based approaches. Frameworks relating to STEM curriculum development and teacher and school change provided structure and focus for the program. This chapter draws on data of changing teacher STEM pedagogy to generate insight into the diverse responses that schools can have to professional learning in STEM and entrepreneurial thinking. The findings of the study indicate the importance of research-informed frameworks that are flexible enough to be applied to schools at different stages of STEM implementation.


STEM education Entrepreneurial thinking Professional learning Primary schools Teacher learning STEM curriculum 



We acknowledge the Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science, Australia, for funding this project as well as Skilling the Bay and Upstart Challenge for their support of this project. We would also like to thank the participating teachers who are open to new ways of working and embracing challenges brought by the STEM agenda.


  1. Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority. (2016). ACARA STEM connections project report. Canberra, ACT: Author. Retrieved from,
  2. Albion, P., Campbell, C., & Jobling, W. (2018). Technologies education for the primary years. South Melbourne, Australia: Cengage.Google Scholar
  3. Bryan, L. A., Moore, T. J., Johnson, C. C., & Roehrig, G. H. (2015). Integrated STEM education. In C. C. Johnson, E. E. Peters-Burton, & T. J. Moore (Eds.), STEM road map: A framework for integrated STEM education (pp. 23–37). New York, NY: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Campbell, C., & Chittleborough, G. (2014). The “new” science specialists: Promoting and improving the teaching of science in primary schools. Teaching Science: Journal of the Australian Science Teachers Association, 60(1), 19–29.Google Scholar
  5. Darby-Hobbs, L. (2013). Responding to a relevance imperative in school science and mathematics: Humanising the curriculum through story. Research in Science Education, 43(1), 77–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Davis, E. A., Janssen, F. J. J. M., & van Driel, J. H. (2016). Teachers and science curriculum materials: Where we are and where we need to go. Studies in Science Education, 52(2), 127–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Commonwealth of Australia. (2015). National innovation and science agenda. Canberra, ACT: Author. Retrieved from,
  8. Education Council. (2015). National STEM school education strategy, 2016–2026: A comprehensive plan for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in Australia. Carlson South, Australia: Author
  9. English, L. D. (2016). STEM education K–12: Perspectives on integration. International Journal of STEM Education, 3(3), 1–8.Google Scholar
  10. English, L. D. (2017). Advancing elementary and middle school STEM education. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 15(1), 5–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fullan, M. (2005). Leadership & sustainability: System thinkers in action. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.Google Scholar
  12. Hackling, M., Peers, S., & Prain, V. (2007). Primary connections: Reforming science teaching in Australian primary schools. Teaching Science, 53(3), 12–16.Google Scholar
  13. Herbert, S., Xu, L., & Kelly, L. (2017). The changing roles of science specialists during a capacity building program for primary school science. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 42(3), 1–21. Scholar
  14. Hobbs, L., Cripps Clark, J., & Plant, B. (2018). Negotiating partnerships in a STEM teacher professional development program: Applying the STEPS interpretive framework. In L. Hobbs, C. Campbell, & M. Jones (Eds.), School-based partnerships in teacher education: A research informed model for universities, schools and beyond (pp. 231–246). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kennedy, J., Lyons, T., & Quinn, F. (2014). The continuing decline of science and mathematics enrolments in Australian high schools. Teaching Science, 60(2), 34–46.Google Scholar
  16. Marginson, S., Tytler, R., Freeman, B., & Roberts, K. (2013). STEM: Country comparisons. International comparisons of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Report for the Australian Council of Learned Academies. Melbourne, Australia: ACOLA. Retrieved from,
  17. Office of the Chief Scientist. (2016). STEM programme index 2016. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government.Google Scholar
  18. Prinsley, R., & Johnston, E. (2015). Transforming STEM teaching in Australian primary schools: Everybody’s business. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government.Google Scholar
  19. Ríordáin, M. N., Johnston, J., & Walshe, G. (2016). Making mathematics and science integration happen: Key aspects of practice. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 47(2), 233–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Roth, K. J. (2014). Elementary science teaching. In N. G. Lederman & S. K. Abell (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (2nd ed., pp. 361–394). London, England: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  21. Schreiner, C., & Sjøberg, S. (2004). Sowing the seeds of ROSE: Background, rationale, questionnaire development and data collection for ROSE - a comparative study of students’ view of science and science education. Oslo, Norway: Department of Teacher Education & School Development, University of Oslo.Google Scholar
  22. Thomas, J., Muchatuta, M., & Wood, L. (2009). Mathematical sciences in Australia. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 40(1), 17–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group. (2014). Action now: Classroom ready teachers. Canberra, ACT: Author. Retrieved from
  24. Timms, M., Moyle, K., Weldon, P., & Mitchell, P. (2018). Challenges in STEM learning in Australian schools: Literature and policy review. Melbourne, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research. Retrieved from
  25. Tytler, R. (2007). Re-imagining science education: Engaging students in science for Australia’s future. Victoria, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research.Google Scholar
  26. Vasquez, J. A., Sneider, C., & Comer, M. (2013). STEM lesson essentials, Grades 3-8: Integrating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  27. Wienk, M. (2017). Discipline profile of the mathematical sciences 2017. Melbourne, Australia: Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and EducationDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

Personalised recommendations