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Early Intervention At Secondary School To Increase University Enrollments In Computing And Science
Globally, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects are competing for enrollment in universities with an increasing range of options, to their detriment. The Australian Mathematical Science Institute has revealed that basic mathematics is growing in popularity among secondary school students at the expense of intermediate or advanced studies. This has resulted in a decrease in the number of universities offering higher mathematics courses and, consequently, a decrease in the number of mathematics graduates. Educators are therefore constantly looking for innovative ways to attract students to STEM university courses.
First, an examination of the causes of low interest in university STEM programs revealed the following: An October 2011 report by the Center for Education and Workforce (CEW) at the University of Georgetown reported that American science graduates viewed traditional science careers as “too socially isolating.” “In addition, a liberal arts or business education was often seen as more flexible in a rapidly changing job market. a career path locally. They believed that the only IT careers available were “underground” jobs, such as data entry. The challenge, according to Professor Ian Chubb, head of Australia’s Office of the Chief Scientist, in his Health of Australian Science report (May 2012), is to make STEM subjects more attractive to students. As it points out, maths and science are studied in secondary school, but engineering and technology are not. Secondary students are not getting a “taste” for STEM subjects in a practical and applied context.
To remedy this situation, on an experimental basis, secondary schools in Australia are undertaking a pilot program in computer science and technology. In the state of Victoria in southern Australia, secondary schools will test the country’s premier computer and technology subjects in Year 12, the final year of secondary school. The premise is that the pilot program will give students a taste of the subject, applied to real-life situations, to examine whether it produces increased interest and enrollment in related subjects at the university level. The pilot project is considered a form of early intervention.
Twelve secondary schools will participate in the pilot program. So up to 120 secondary school students will undertake the computer science curriculum developed by computer science and engineering scholars from the University of Melbourne and Monash University in partnership with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority of the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. The universities of Melbourne and Monash are running workshops for teachers and educators on the pilot program, as well as promoting the pilot to parents.
The pilot program is a subject added to the higher education curriculum in all twelve public schools in the state of Victoria. The subject is a modified version of the two collaborating universities’ first-year computer science curriculum, taught in two modes: face-to-face classroom instruction at the twelve targeted high schools, and through online subjects.
The pilot IT subject does not teach students how to use technology, because they already know it. The subject aims to extend their thinking to a level of academic rigor equivalent to upper secondary and pre-university standards. Thus, students will be able to create software and focus on specialized skills, such as complex analysis, sought after by high-tech employers, thus exploring a multidisciplinary approach to computer science and engineering. An introduction to the skills required at university level should increase students’ confidence in applied techniques.
University of Melbourne Computer Science and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) graduates have a 90% employment rate within six months of graduation. The high employment rate is also expected to improve the transition rate from secondary schools in the program to computer science and STEM courses at university.
The United States and the United Kingdom have had computer science programs in their secondary school curricula for twenty years and the subject is taken as part of the International Baccalaureate. However, Australia has lagged behind in introducing computing and engineering subjects into secondary education. If the pilot project proves successful, the subject will be included in the secondary curriculum of national schools.
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