“Enriching mathematics and science learning through an interdisciplinary approach”
This ARC Discovery Project, is a response to a widely recognised need for significant innovation in early mathematics and science learning. Despite rapidly increasing technologies and curriculum reform, a growing number of students fail to acquire the essential quantitative and scientific skills required for work and life. Consequently, it is critical that change is built upon sound, current research that provides direction for effecting positive change and relevancy. The research takes an inquiry based approach examining classroom practice and the relationship between STEM disciplines, rather than separate entities, to support student reasoning and collaborative problem solving skills. A core focus of this project is around understanding how to make Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Education (STEME) more innovative and engaging for teacher, students and industry. This STEME research program seeks to create greater links between the education system, policy makers, international partners such as the University of Manchester and the STEM research community for improving student learning with the broader goal of achieving social, environmental and economic sustainability.
The project aims to
- Identify and capitalise on young children’s potential for developing rich, coherent mathematical and scientific knowledge.
- Document children’s development of core structural ideas and relationships that are common to mathematical and scientific learning (including the use of pattern and structure in measurement and data modelling) in the early years of schooling.
- Develop and evaluate educational approaches and assessment instruments that support children’s mathematical and scientific development through empirical evaluation of an innovative program.
- Demonstrate how an interdisciplinary approach (mathematics and science) to the quantitative sciences can be prioritised and integrated within existing practices and curricula at national and international level.
Significance and innovation
This project is significant and innovative in that it:
- Applies a structural approach currently proving successful in early mathematics learning to both mathematical and scientific domains through novel experiences in data modelling, measuring and problem solving, thereby laying an important foundation for strengthening our nation’s capacity in the quantitative sciences;
- Develops a new integrated research framework that centres on structural development with specific discipline applications (mathematics and science) to inform learning programs for young children;
- Provides insights into, and fosters young children’s learning under stimulating, authentic conditions with a focus on improving learning for all students, including those who are gifted or prone to experiencing learning difficulties
- Demonstrates the effectiveness and feasibility of an innovative program to meet the mathematics and science education professional learning needs of early childhood and primary education teachers
- Provides a new strategy to support the aims of Australian Government National Research Priorities in numeracy and international calls for reform in early childhood and primary mathematics and science education.