On 3 June 2015 the Director of AUT's Centre for Learning and Teaching Dr Stanley Frielick announced the successful applicants for the 2015 Learning and Teaching Development Fund. Two STEM-TEC projects received grants of $10,000 each: "Increasing the Retention Rate in Tertiary STEM Subjects by Enhancing Students' Engagement" – project leader Associate Professor Sergiy Klymchuk and "Pen-Enabled Tablets in Teaching and Learning of STEM Subjects" – project leader Associate Professor David Wilson.
Description of the first project: A significant number of tertiary STEM students drop out of their courses during the first-year not because the courses are too difficult but because, in their words, they 'are too dry and boring'. There are even such special terms as 'emotional disengagement' and 'academic disinterest'. Many lecturers would agree that if students are interested the rest is easy. The project has two aims: firstly, expand and improve the digital resources comprising puzzles, paradoxes, provocations and sophisms (PPPS) in STEM subjects developed in the pilot project in 2014; secondly, an evaluation of their impact on students' engagement and retention rate in courses. The expected outcome is the increase of the retention rate in STEM subjects via enhanced student engagement. Enhancing first-year tertiary student engagement is considered an important strategy for improving retention (Horstmanshof & Zimitat, 2007). The intention of using PPPS is to engage students' emotions, creativity and curiosity and also enhance their critical thinking skills, problem-solving strategies and lateral thinking "outside the box". The project intends to transform the way of teaching STEM subjects.
Reference:Horstmanshof, L., and Zimitat, C. (2007). Future time orientation predicts academic engagement among first-year university students. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77(3), 703–718.
Team members:A/Prof. Sergiy Klymchuk (project leader), Prof. Sergei Gulyaev, A/Prof. Nurul Sarkar, Dr Jacqueline Whalley, Anne Philpott