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Issues in Educational Research, 2018, Vol 28(2), 438-452
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Evaluating the social impact of a science centre's STEM professional learning strategies for teachers

Karen Murcia and Coral Pepper
Curtin University, Australia

Science centres generally strive to increase awareness, interest, capability and participation by citizens in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This review of Scitech's professional learning (PL) strategy was designed to analyse quantitative and qualitative feedback about the professional learning activities delivered by Scitech consultants and drew from 2014 and 2015 data. We aimed to determine the social impact of Scitech professional learning programs on participants and their students across three specified programs. Concepts used as indicators of potential social impact that informed and framed this evaluation included integrated STEM, transversal competencies, scientific literacy, numeracy and social constructivism. A mixed method data collection was adopted and included face to face interviews, documented school visits, classroom observation, review of PL resources and presentations, review of PL feedback and follow up telephone interviews. We found that teachers participating in Scitech PL perceive they are making a difference to the classroom environment for students with increased STEM confidence, exemplar activities, shared planning and deeper understanding of curriculum. A key strength of the PL initiatives was the Scitech PL model which empowered teachers as active participants who engage in two-way learning with Scitech facilitators and colleagues.
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Authors: Dr Karen Murcia is Deputy Head, School of Education at Curtin University. She specialises in STEM education research and leadership. Her action research projects are conducted in collaboration with teachers in schools and community organisations.
Email: karen.murcia@curtin.edu.au

Dr Coral Pepper is a Senior Research Associate in the School of Education at Curtin University. She is also a Lead Research Consultant with Solutions One Consulting. She conducts evaluation research and provides project management services.
Email: coral.pepper@curtin.edu.au, coral.pepper@iinet.net.au

Please cite as: Murcia, K. & Pepper, C. (2018). Evaluating the social impact of a science centre's STEM professional learning strategies for teachers. Issues in Educational Research, 28(2), 438-452. http://www.iier.org.au/iier28/murcia.pdf

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