Determining the state of STEM/STEAM education at the primary school level in Kazakhstan

  • Malone, Kathy (PI)
  • Helmer, Janet (Co-PI)
  • Dukenova, Ainur (Administrative and clerical specialist)
  • Assanbayev, Arman (Other participant)

Project: Other

Project Details

Project Description

The STEM pipeline has been used as an analogy to envision the movement of young people towards future STEM degrees but over the years this pipeline has been shrinking (Kuhn, 2006). The shrinking of the STEM pipeline is occurring worldwide (OECD, 2014). For example, OECD (2104) reports that only 15% of enrolled college students earn engineering degrees while over 30% earn social science social science degrees. The gender gap is also quite staggering with less than 25% of these degrees being earned by females. For example, in Kazakhstan in 2016 female students from age 18-22 made up 57% of all students enrolled in college but only 37% of them were studying engineering ( Thus, there is a possibility to be able to grow the pipeline by increasing the number of females interested in STEM careers. Regardless of gender issues, it has been shown that most pre-college age students are not interested in pursuing engineering or science careers (DeWitt, Archer, & Osborne, 2014; Jenkins, & Nelson, 2005). Tai, Liu, Maltese and Fan (2006) found that 14 year old students who declare that they wish to pursue STEM careers are 3.4 times more likely in the United States to earn STEM degrees than students who do not have such career aspirations. This means that if one wishes to affect the STEM pipeline one must target primary and early secondary students to a much greater degree than other age groups. However, this is problematic due to a number of studies suggesting that student interest in school science declines between primary and secondary school years. This study aims to determine teacher and student perceptions about STEM (or STEAM) education, and its value while determining the practical implications for Kazakhstani education. Specifically, the following questions guide this study: 1) What do primary school teachers and students understand about STEM or STEAM education? 2) What are in service primary school teachers’ doing in their classrooms and outside their classrooms to promote interest in STEM and awareness of STEM careers in Kazakhstan? 3) What opportunities do teachers’ (in their preservice training or in-service training) have available to them to be trained in pedagogies that will promote interest in STEM and awareness of STEM careers in Kazakhstan? 4) How do teachers and students value STEM education? 5) What opportunities are available to students both in formal primary schools as well as informal opportunities? The research questions will be answered by the use of focus group interviews with primary teachers and students as well as classroom artifacts supplied by teachers in three locations in Kazakhstan. The student focus groups will be of two ages – one 1st and 2nd grade group and one or two 3rd through 5th grade groups.
Effective start/end date5/1/195/31/21


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