New partnership to investigate improving STEM education outcomes for Australian students

As Australia’s performance in mathematics and science continues to decline and pressure to engage students increases, a new research partnership is leading the charge to better understand and improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education outcomes, particularly for women and girls.

Funded by The Invergowrie Foundation, the partnership harnesses the academic power of two leading tertiary institutions, the University of Melbourne and Deakin University, engaged to publish The Invergowrie Foundation STEM Report.

Due later this year, The Invergowie Foundation Chair, Wendy Lewis, said the report will provide a “roadmap” of STEM education in Australia, offering a benchmark for where we sit on the global stage and provide examples of best practice.

“Currently there is no coordinated cross-sector STEM strategy, or clear understanding of who is doing what, and if it’s having an impact,” she said.

“This report will build the case for a new approach to philanthropic investment and cross-sector engagement to improve Australia’s STEM education.”

Project leader Jan van Driel, Professor of Science Education at the University of Melbourne said this report is a welcome investment in the future of STEM education.

“To stop falling behind leading OECD countries, Australia needs a joint effort to first investigate what issues and barriers we currently face in STEM education, and then identify how we can improve engagement and outcomes in STEM for all students,” he said.

The partnership also signals a new direction for The Invergowrie Foundation, which was established 25 years ago and whose history can be traced back to a generous gift of the late William E. McPherson, to focus on the advancement of education of women and girls in Victoria.

“Reversing current trends in Australia’s STEM education is a critical educational, economic and workplace issue,” said Ms Lewis.

“This is particularly true for girls and women, who have a lower participation rate in STEM school subjects, university graduation and ongoing STEM careers.

“We aim to better include girls and women in a STEM future, creating opportunities for them to thrive.”