Models of Community Partnerships for Fostering Student Interest and Engagement in STEM

  • James Joseph Watters
  • Carmel Mary Diezmann
Keywords: school-industry partnerships, STEM education, student engagement


The foundations of STEM education begins in the early years of schooling when students encounter formal learning experiences primarily in mathematics and science. Politicians, economists, and industrialists recognise the importance of STEM in society, and hence a number of strategies have been implemented to foster interest. Similarly, most students see science and mathematics as important in their lives, but school science and mathematics is seen as irrelevant particularly by students in developed countries. This paper reports on initiatives that draw on partnerships with industry experts from one jurisdiction which have over a decade attempted to reconcile the interests of youth and the contemporary world of science. These case studies were conducted generally using both qualitative and quantitative data and findings analysed in terms of program outcomes and student engagement. The key finding is that the formation of relationships and partnerships in which students have high degree of autonomy and sense of responsibility is paramount to positive dispositions towards STEM. Those features of successful partnerships are also discussed. The findings raise some hope that innovative schools and partnerships can foster innovation and connect youth with the real world.