Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education curriculum and instructional design continuously undergo reforms that aim to prepare learners for the challenges of the 21st century (Hoeg & Bencze, 2017; Pietarinen et al., 2017). In particular, STEM education has adopted strategies that integrate modern technologies in teaching and learning to enhance knowledge construction and application among learners and societies. In some countries, STEM education reforms are fuelled by socio-economic and political imperatives that seek to promote social justice (Mnguni, 2018). More recently, the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic has forced schools and universities to adopt online teaching methods to reduce the coronavirus's spread. Consequently, researchers are exploring strategies for the incorporation of online teaching and learning methods. The effectiveness of these strategies and their impact on the students' conceptualization of STEM knowledge, its application, and relevance are continuously being investigated.
This research aims to examine: (a) how Physics teachers who participated in a STEM project, adopted and implemented a STEM activity in the context of a pandemic; (b) from the perspective of Physics teachers, what were the effects on students' learning of a STEM activity implemented in the context of the pandemic; (c) what challenges had Physics teachers faced in implementing the STEM activity during the pandemic. A qualitative and interpretive methodology was used. The participants are four Physics teachers who implemented a STEM activity on sound, during the pandemic. Data were collected through interviews and written reflections. The study has shown how, in a crisis context such as COVID-19, which affected schools all around the world, teachers were able to deal with it and kept developing a STEM activity, revealing the main challenges and effects on student learning, from the teachers’ points of view. Moreover, it was clear that carrying out with success a STEM activity, in such an adverse scenario, was strongly related with teachers who found new strategies and keep students motivated, by guiding them proficiently, and that requires to merge scientific and technological knowledge.
COVID-19 posed formidable challenges to the teaching and learning of subjects with abstract concepts such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The study explored how STEM teachers transformed their pedagogical practices as an integral part of the transition to online teaching and learning in response to COVID-19 and further examined the effectiveness of online teaching and learning. The study adopted an exploratory descriptive survey design and involved purposively selected STEM teachers from schools operating under the auspices of the Association of Muslim Schools. The Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework underpinned the study. Quantitative data was collected through the administration of a Likert scale instrument. Data was analysed using inferential and descriptive statistics. Findings revealed that COVID-19 essentially compelled teachers to make a transition to online teaching and learning resulting in a concomitant profound impact on their pedagogical practices. Teachers provided various perspectives on the key modalities adopted to navigate online teaching and learning on virtual platforms in an attempt to ensure sustainable, equitable and inclusive teaching and learning. Implications for broadening educational pathways to STEM education through online teaching and learning on virtual platforms and sustainable teacher professional development on technology integration in teaching and learning are discussed.
The 2020 pandemic led to the immediate lockdown of schools and universities worldwide with far-reaching implications for educators and learners. Individual stories of lockdown and isolation are documented using direct quotations from discussion forums, emails, live chats, and structured journal entries from the Blackboard learning management system. A ‘qualitative sense’ of a common narrative of turmoil and success within this ‘new [ab] normal’ is established. Educators’ contrasting accounts of uncertainty and hope are highlighted. The notion of anticipatory anxiety as a result of social lockdown restrictions is covered in terms of its impact on mental health and wellbeing, with special reference to the neuroscience that underpins this phenomenon. Strategies for the management of stress-related autonomic nervous system activation, as well as for building resilience and coping skills in classrooms, are highlighted, along with the need to address issues of cognitive dissonance and fatigue caused by increased online/blended teaching demands during uncertain times. The online format was found to be potentially impersonal and cold without the essential ‘human factor’. Despite technology in education there has to be human and social interaction, as well as support online. The most benefit was derived from live sessions and social interaction.
The closing of schools due to Covid-19 has brought a dimension of uncertainty into STEM education. Despite the closing of schools due to the need to observe physical distancing, some schools have found ways to continue teaching and learning on virtual platforms enabled by increasingly pervasive fourth industrial revolution environments. In this study, the teaching of Ordinary level mathematics and science in pursuit of STEM education goals as enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) in online classrooms was therefore, explored. Using an interpretive case study, relevant data were collected from two mathematics and three science teachers during semi-structured interviews. These participants communicated their experiences in transitioning from face-to-face to online classrooms as they worked to promote STEM education during the Covid-19 pandemic. The findings reveal teachers’ experiences of this transition and their selection of particular Web 2.0 tools to establish online classrooms. Notably, mobile instant messaging tools proved to be a popular option for being cheap, user-friendly, temporal, and multimodal. The findings also revealed that teachers struggled to adapt the hands-on activities to suit online teaching resulting in the use of teacher-centred approaches.
This research reports the assessment of pre-service teachers’ reception and attitudes towards virtual laboratory experiments in Life Sciences with the aim of advancing adaptability to digital learning. Using sequential mixed-methods in a quasi-experimental design, 68 pre-service teachers in the 3rd year of a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) program were surveyed before and after virtual learning interventions. This phase was followed by qualitative data gathering using focus group interviews with all participants. Findings from quantitative data analysis revealed a positive significant difference in pre-service teachers’ attitudes towards virtual laboratory experiments post learning interventions. From qualitative data pre-service teachers found the progression from using only traditional to including virtual experiments was useful in enhancing their conceptual understandings of Life Sciences concepts, convenience, inquiry-based learning, self-directed and autonomous learning. However, pre-service teachers noted that using virtual laboratories did not significantly develop their science process skills and as a result could not replace the experiences in a traditional biology laboratory. The implications of these findings project virtual laboratories as a supporting tool for experimentation in Life Sciences especially within and post the COVID-19 pandemic where issues of social distancing pose a threat to collaborative and inquiry-based science learning. Recommendations from these findings are discussed herein.
Online teaching environment is a challenge for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in-service teachers who feel worried about their ability to succeed in what might be an unfamiliar learning environment. This research focused on testing the effects of perceived risks and concerns by in-service teachers during online-only classes due to the coronavirus outbreak on student academic progress requirements across the different STEM disciplines. The research hypotheses were tested on a sample of 1444 in-service teachers teaching exclusively in the online environment, in Romania. A structural equation model was used to explore the possible links among two external variables (pedagogical and technological perceived risks), one mediator variable (student engagement), one control variable (school settings), and one output variable (student academic progress requirements). The results revealed significant negative paths from challenges mediated by student engagement to student academic progress, as well as positive paths from them to mediator factor. The school setting categories were negatively correlated with both perceived risk dimensions. The moderator role of student engagement on the challenges-outcome link was supported. The online teaching effects on student’s academic progress varied across the different STEM disciplines. The relevant common features for all STEM disciplines were further then demonstrated.
To limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus conditions of lockdown were enforced by countries globally. Universities and schools revised the mode of delivery from contact teaching to online teaching and learning. This qualitative research was conducted at one university in South Africa and explored STEM discipline lecturers’ reflections on the use of online technologies and the factors which enable or constrain online teaching and learning. Three lecturers from STEM disciplines involved in online teaching were purposively selected to participate in this study. Data were generated via semi-structured interviews and reflective journals. The findings reveal that lecturers supplement the use of Moodle and Zoom with WhatsApp, the factor that enabled online teaching was the availability of data to lecturers and students. In contrast, the factors that constrained online teaching and learning were the technical training received for online teaching, the mismatch between pedagogy and students’ learning styles, the pressure of balancing work-home life and assumptions made about the availability of conducive home environments for learning, connectivity, and availability of devices for online learning. These findings have implications for professional development for online teaching and recommend that universities adopt WhatsApp to be a formal platform for online teaching and learning.