Supporting the STEM Transition between School and University

DS 78: Proceedings of the 16th International conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE14), Design Education and Human Technology Relations, University of Twente, The Netherlands, 04-05.09.2014

Year: 2014
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Arthur Eger, Wouter Eggink, Ahmed Kovacevic, Brian Parkinson, Wessel Wits
Author: Thomson, Avril; Sayer, Phillip; McLaren, Andrew; Little, Derek
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Faculty of Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland
Section: Design Education in Practice
Page(s): 408-413
ISBN: 978-1-904670-56-8


This paper sets out to review the relationship between Schools and Universities in the West of Scotland with the strategic aim of widening access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) based subjects. With the changing nature of education in Scottish schools because of the Curriculum for Excellence and the requirement for increasing, the number of students who participate in STEM subjects at university. An eight-person research team was assembled at the University of Strathclyde to investigate, support and raise awareness of the key factors affecting successful STEM transition from secondary school to university. The group made up from students and academics was a novel approach and aimed at developing their knowledge of the current Scottish education system whilst developing partnerships with secondary schools in the local Glasgow area. Several peer discussion groups were conducted as part of the methodology and it was through these that ideas, such as a student elective scheme allowing university students to enter schools and run project based learning workshops, could benefit the transition strategy for young people to enter the STEM based disciplines at university. The outlined proposals, when implemented, have the possibility of negating the previous inconsistency of previous attempts to address the problem of successful STEM transition. Four key project deliverables were identified that had the potential to develop the strategy necessary to encourage and develop school pupils into the STEM subject areas and with the help of staff and pupils, the researchers were able to identify potential ideas and solutions to facilitate this.

Keywords: Transition, school, university, STEM, widening access


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