2014/2017 – ReMSTEP

Office for Teaching and Learning Grant – (2014-17)
Funding: $12 million over 4 years for entire funding of ETMST program
Project Director: Prof Stephen Dinham, The University of Melbourne
Administering Institution: The University of Melbourne.
ReMSTEP, responds to the need for improved competence and confidence in the teaching of science and mathematics, as a pre-service focus, across the Australian Curriculum.

The project is Funded by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT), over three years and is a collaborative project led by the University of Melbourne in association with Monash, Deakin and La Trobe universities. It is part of the wider OLT Program: Enhancing the Training of Mathematics and Science Teachers (ETMST).

ReMSTEPs project activities are centred around developing new teacher education practices that align contemporary approaches to STEM with engaging teaching and learning. Core to ReMSTEP initiatives is the introduction of new science and maths course electives and/or student learning pathways. Equally important, is the building of collaborative relationships across faculties, universities and specialist science and maths centres.

Each university partner has developed their own responses to the projects seven key innovations. Monash University has pursued a collaboration between the Faculties of Education and Science resulting in the development of three exciting new initiatives.

  1. Inspiring Maths – The creation of three inspiring mathematics videos to kindle and extend student and teacher interest in challenging contemporary mathematics questions. These are presented by a Mathematics researcher, Dr Norman Do.
  2. Schools Science Project (SCI3910) – is a new unit designed to engage and support undergraduate science students to design and deliver science focused teaching activities in primary schools while developing effective communication and employability skills.
  3. Practices of contemporary science (EDF5674) – is a new unit designed to challenge pre-service and in-service teacher’s understandings of contemporary practices of science by assisting students to visit and interview practicing scientists at leading Monash research facilities or Museum Victoria.

Monash project leaders:
Professor Deborah Corrigan – Faculty of Education.
Professor Cristina Varsavsky – Faculty of Science.

Project co-ordinators:
Ms Lisa Fasio – Faculty of Education (2015-2017)
Ms Joanne Burke – Faculty of Education (2015-2017)
Dr Mathew Hall – Faculty of Education (2014-2015)

Monash project members:
Dr David Overton – School of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
Mr Greg Lancaster – Faculty of Education
Dr Kelly-Ann Twist – Faculty of Education
Dr Norman Do – School of Mathematics, Faculty of Science
Dr Rebecca Cooper – Faculty of Education
Dr Gillian Kidman – Faculty of Education
Dr Richard Gunstone – Faculty of Education

Link to the official ReMSTEP Website (http://remstep.org.au/)

ReMSTEP focuses on seven key innovations:

Innovation 1: The inclusion of contemporary science and mathematics in integrated science and pre-service units of study.

Innovation 2: The promotion of undergraduate science students engaging with schools.

Innovation 3: Developing science specialisations within primary pre-service programs.

Innovation 4: Extending Specialist Science and Technology Centre collaborations.

Innovation 5: Developing opportunities for students to interact with scientists in world class research environments.

Innovation 6: Developing programs that build on existing student expertise in science and mathematics.

Innovation 7: Building a recruitment pipeline of high potential mathematics and science teachers to inspire future students.

Three videos were produced through collaboration between Jo Burke & Rebecca Cooper in the Faculty of Education and Norman Do a maths researcher in the School of Mathematics, Monash University. The videos are aimed at pre-service teachers but are just as relevant to practicing teachers of secondary school mathematics. The purpose of the videos is to inspire pre-service and in-service teachers to think of mathematics as a beautiful, creative and relevant discipline. They aim to challenge preconceived ideas about what maths is, and isn’t and for the beauty of maths to be appreciated, understood and shared with learners of maths.A key objective is for the video to provide inspiration for classroom activities that deal with the underpinning concepts, rather than the technical and computational aspects, of mathematics.

The videos are available as resources on the SERG website and may be viewed in any order by following the links below;

The EDF5674 unit has been designed for Master of Teaching and Master of Education pre-service or in-service teachers who wish to:

  • Gain a richer understanding of science as it is actually practiced across a range of contemporary scientific settings, and
  • Improve their teaching by enhancing their science communication and incorporating knowledge of contemporary scientific practices into their classroom practice.

Pre-service teachers undertake a number of investigative tasks designed to assist their understanding of science as it is practiced in contemporary research settings, involving

  • shadowing scientists in their workplace to observe the nature of their work
  • interviewing scientists to explore their understandings of science; and
  • attendance at scientific conferences, symposia and other science media and communication events, e.g STEMTalks, Engaging Science Education, doctoral students seminars and more.

Pre-service and in-service teachers are encouraged to understand and critique these practices in the context of classroom science teaching and explore ways of making the science experiences for their students more relevant and engaging. The unit also introduces students to a framework of science cognitive engagement designed to enable them to better understand the dynamic nature of contemporary scientific practice, and to translate such practices into more engaging and authentic experiences in their classroom teaching.

The SCI3910 unit has been designed for undergraduate science students to develop and deliver teaching activities in Victorian primary schools. It aims to provide;

  • an authentic and safe workplace experience to undergraduate science students, where they can reflect on and further develop a range of employment skills to ensure they are workplace capable. i.e. effective and appropriate communication, problem solving, capable of creative and innovative ideas, leading and motivating small teams, and in all coping with the pressures of working in a professional environment where ‘conditions’ are constantly changing; and
  • an opportunity for undergraduate science students to communicate their passion for science to school students, through engaging activities they develop and lead.

Students are placed in primary schools (mostly in pairs) to design and deliver science modules that are individually tailored to meet their students and supervising teacher’s needs. Schools provide an ideal ‘hands-on’, supportive, professional place of work to challenge the students communication, problem-solving, organisation and leadership skills. The school environment provides an exciting ‘natural’ place of learning, where challenges and opportunities for continual improvement are regularly provided and shortfalls can be reflected on.

The placement length and attendance can varies depending on the schools needs, however most placements are approximately 10 contact hours in total.

Students have an introductory meeting with the school supervisor/teacher to establish a suitable teaching brief. They then observe a lesson with the class they will teach to familiarise themselves with the teacher, students and the school context. After some research, and lesson planning students then assist in preparing suitable teaching resources. Finally they deliver the lessons and reflect on what worked or did not work and why. Students then return to their peer workshops to share their school experiences and prepare reports reflecting on how their learning has impacted on their transferable employment skills.