Catalyst Initiative 2010 ('Inter-teaching': Digital practitioner networks in STEM teacher education)

  • Awarded to: Dr Ben Williamson
  • Co-investigators: Professor Barry Barnes Lindsay Hetherington, Dr Nasser Mansour, Associate Professor Keith Postlethwaite Professor Rupert Wegerif
  • Funding Awarded to Exeter: £ 18,500
  • Dates: 1 October 2010 - 30 September 2012
  • Sponsor(s): Hewlett Packard

The use of emerging technologies to create relevant, authentic, project-based STEM education for students, and to create new "learning and research ecosystems" that link existing education institutions in collaborative ventures to jointly address key challenges in STEM education.

Need for the project:
The “Inter-teaching” project addresses the need to explore and examine new pedagogies in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education that will motivate and appeal to young people, and for new methods of teacher preparation for STEM teaching. Across Europe there is a strong emphasis on exploring inquiry-based approaches to the teaching and learning of STEM subjects, requiring a re-examination of how to prepare teachers for this shift in practice.

Project aims:
“Inter-teaching” focuses on digitally networked practitioner research as an approach to developing “inquiry-based STEM education” (IBSE). The overall aim is to explore how networked practitioner research methods can best support new teachers to develop inquiry-based pedagogies.

Project design and methods:
The project will involve PGCE student teachers as networked practitioner researchers, in local secondary schools, involved in developing approaches to STEM education using a suite of high-tech specialist equipment. The project sponsor, Hewlett Packard, has supplied computing equipment and specialist equipment for STEM inquiry worth nearly £100,000.

The team will work with PGCE students in relevant STEM subjects to develop a series of practitioner assignments focused on aspects of inquiry-based STEM education and making use of new tools and technologies. Students, staff from their placement schools, and team members will be networked together using online social networking tools—as well as through face to face interaction—to collaborate and reflect on these assignments, and to work together on the collection and analysis of data.

On-the-ground lesson observations and interviews with the participating students will be conducted to understand and analyse the effects of the intervention within classrooms, and to explore the effectiveness of networked practitioner research as a method for teacher education in STEM subjects.

The “Inter-teaching” project is part of an international consortium of research projects all examining different aspects of pedagogy and teacher education for the future of STEM education. See for details.