This page will be updated with our latest research publications, conference papers and dissemination activities.
Research articles and conference papers
Innovative methods for evaluating the science capital of young children
This paper introduces NUSTEM’s development and testing of a suite of research instruments, created with the aim of measuring elements of science capital in young children. It focuses on the Most Like Me/ Most Like a Scientist ‘Diamond 9’ sorting activity, an instrument designed to measure children’s perceptions of scientists alongside their self-identity. We found that young children tend to view scientists as ‘hardworking’ and ‘clever’, but that boys self-identities are more likely to include clever than girls, whereas girls self-identities are more likely to include hardworking than boys. Children’s self-identify differs by gender, age and background illustrating significant gaps for some children between their self-identity and that of a scientist.
Source: 2016 IEEE Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference
Authors: Annie Padwick; Opeyemi Dele-Ajayi; Carol Davenport ; Rebecca Strachan
Date: Oct 2016
A Theory of Change for improving Children’s perceptions, aspirations and uptake of STEM careers
‘A Theory of Change offers both predictive and diagnostic utility, of individual activities and of an overall programme of work’
This paper introduces an innovative Theory of Change model which provides theoretical underpinnings and context for complex mix of interventions, necessary for significant change in the number and diversity of those choosing STEM careers. The Theory of Change process enables the identification of causal chains through which the model takes into account the pre-requisites and assumptions that underlie the causal chain(s), along with the barriers which may work against them. It helps identify how children, young people and their key influencers (teachers, carers and families) can be engaged, to increase the diversity and number of young people choosing STEM careers. The paper also provides case studies of how Theory of Change is used in practice.
Source: Research in Science Education
Authors: Carol Davenport; Opeyemi Dele-Ajayi; Itoro Emembolu; Richard Morton; Annie Padwick; Antonio Portas; Jonathan Sanderson; Joe Shimwell; Jane Stonehouse; Rebecca Strachan; Leanne Wake; Gary Wells & John Woodward
Date: Jan 2020
Using action research to design and evaluate sustained and inclusive engagement to improve children’s knowledge and perception of STEM careers
‘Career awareness in primary schools should open up opportunities for children by widening their career knowledge and keeping career options open for longer’
This study investigates the impact of a project that delivered career-driven STEM interventions on young children’s (7–10 years old) career knowledge and perceptions over time. There was a clear shift from children who had closed off particular career options (by saying they ‘would not like to do’ the jobs) to being more open about whether they wanted to do the jobs or not. This is important because it suggests the children remain open to pursuing those jobs, thereby leaving the possibilities of those job paths available to them should they wish to choose to pursue them in the future. We also found that there can be positive effects of carefully designed and sustained career driven STEM engagement on children, particularly girls. Prior to the interventions, girls were less likely than boys to know some STEM jobs but after 2 years later of sustained intervention, there was no significant difference between boys and girls in their knowledge of STEM jobs. These finding provide evidence of a pathway to tackling the STEM skills gap by organisations and suggested evidence of broadened career knowledge and career preference shifts over time.
Source: International Journal of Science Education
Authors: Itoro Emembolu, Annie Padwick; Joe Shimwell; Jonathan Sanderson; Carol Davenport; Rebecca Strachan.
Date: Mar 2020
Tackling the digital and engineering skills shortage: Understanding young people and their career aspirations
This paper looks at children’s career aspirations and their reasons why they chose these careers.
We asked 622 children aged between 7 and 11 to write down three jobs they would like to do when they were older, and why they wanted to do those jobs.
- Children had high, but narrow, aspirations. 20 jobs accounted for 75% of the jobs named by the children
- Children had aspirations higher than the jobs that their parents/carers currently did
- There wasn’t a gender difference about why children wanted to do the particular careers. Those wanting to do physical sciences related STEM jobs said it was because they enjoyed an aspect of it or thought they would be good at it, and those wanting to do medical/biological science related STEM jobs said it was because they wanted to help others or enjoyed an aspect of it.
- Very few children mentioned role models as being their reason for choosing a career.
- At this age, children were happy to suggest possible careers from different fields e.g. scientist OR singer suggested by the same child.
You can read the whole paper here.
Going beyond the one-off: How can STEM engagement programmes with young people have real lasting impact?
‘Deeper programmes of engagement are required based around Theories of Change and considering young people’s wider learning ecology’
This paper discusses the likely impact of single and repeated STEM intervention with varying durations. With a sector shift from single to repeated engagements, the paper provides examples of different approaches that have emerged. The potential benefits and limitations of these approaches are outlined and discussed from the authors’ perspective.
It highlights the need for all those who engage young people, to work more collaboratively to identify, which group is best suited to deliver specific engagements that are necessary at the various points along a young person’s educational journey.
Source: Submitted for Publication
Authors: Martin Archer; Jen DeWitt; Carol Davenport; Olivia Keenan; Lorraine Coghill; Anna Christodoulou
Tackling the digital and engineering skills shortage: Understanding young people and their career aspirations
‘enjoyment of the subject and related skills are significant motivators for children with Core STEM aspirations’
This paper presents an investigation into young children’s (aged 7 – 11) career aspirations and their reported motivations for these, comparing the motivations given for Core and Medical STEM aspirations. We found that a third of children reported STEM career aspirations, but 5 times the number of boys reported aspirations within Core STEM compared to girls, and 4 times the number of girls reported aspirations for Medical STEM compared to boys. However children’s reported motivations within each STEM sector were broadly similar, regardless of gender. Children with Core STEM aspirations are motivated by the enjoyment of the subject or related skills and/or by a desire to continue exploring these, while children with Medical STEM aspirations are motivated by the desire to help people and/or animals. This highlights the young age children’s aspirations diverge along gender times, and the need for early interventions during early years and primary school to counteract this.
Source: 2020 Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference (accepted)
Authors: Annie Padwick; Carol Davenport; Joe Shimwell; Melanie Horan; Rebecca Strachan.
Date: Publication pending Oct 2020
Using a Games Design Intervention based on an Integrated Pedagogical Framework
Combining learning theories (Direct Instruction and Cognitive Constructivism) can enable effective learning that caters for a range of participants’ abilities along the novice-expert spectrum
This paper presents a games design intervention that is based on an integrated pedagogical framework to encourage diversity in engagement with computer science by primary age school children (age 7 – 11 years). The intervention explored stereotypes and increase in children’s awareness of careers in the sector through individual games created by the children. Children became more aware of careers in the game industry post- compared to pre-intervention. Also, girls had a variety of diversity in their choice of lead characters while the boys chose mainly male human lead characters in the games that they designed. This suggests gendered behaviour (whether conscious or unconscious) occur at an early age of a child’s development. The paper highlights the effectiveness of combining different learning approaches to provide an age appropriate intervention. It also presents evidence on the positive effect of using games in the classroom.
Source: 2019 IEEE Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference
Authors: Itoro Emembolu; Rebecca Strachan; Opeyemi Dele-Ajayi; Carol Davenport; Joe Shimwell
Date: Oct 2019
The NUSTEM approach: Tackling the engineering and gender challenge together from early years to sixth form and beyond
This paper documents NUSTEM’s early thinking in approaches and Theory of Change required to increase the uptake of physical and computer sciences, technology and engineering by young people from under-represented groups. It highlights three key principles for effective long-term STEM interventions; the need for early and sustained engagement, a commitment to building understanding and conﬁdence of children’s key inﬂuencers and efforts to drive for wider social change by tackling issues such as unconscious biases.
Source: New Approaches to Engineering in Higher Education Conference Proceedings
Authors: Annie Padwick, Carol Davenport, Rebecca Strachan, Joe Shimwell
Date: May 2017
‘Designing effective evaluations for applying scientific academic research to career-based interventions for younger children’, The Evaluator, Autumn 2019, 14 – 16, I.C. Emembolu, R. Strachan, C. Davenport (2019)
‘Growing into careers in primary education’, Education in Science, 276, 11 – 12, C. Davenport (2019)
‘Using career contexts to teach science’, School Science Review, 100, 373, 19-21 C. Davenport (2019)
‘Careers in the curriculum – the difficult fourth benchmark’, Education in Science, 276, pp 14, C. Davenport (2019)
‘Careers advice and changing stereotypes in the primary classroom’, Primary Science, 157, 29 – 30, C. Davenport, J. Shimwell (2019)
‘Endpoint: Teachers, stop ignoring careers information, and include it in your teaching.’ Education in Chemistry, 56, 2, C. Davenport (2019)
‘It’s time to talk careers’, Education in Chemistry, 28 February 2019, Available at: https://eic.rsc.org/endpoint/its-time-to-talk-careers/3010039.article, C. Davenport (2019)
‘Why should you care about careers?’ Education in Chemistry, 22 November 2018, available online at https://eic.rsc.org/feature/why-should-you-care-about-careers/3009776.article, C. Davenport (2018)
‘How to tackle careers guidance’ Education in Chemistry, 9 November 2018, available online at https://eic.rsc.org/analysis/how-to-tackle-careers-guidance/3009712.article, C. Davenport (2018)
‘Including Careers in the curriculum’ Education in Chemistry, 18 September 2018, available online at https://eic.rsc.org/ideas/including-careers-in-the-curriculum/3009375.article, C. Davenport (2018)
‘Linking science with design and technology in a stimulating approach to teaching about levers.’, Primary Science, 139, C. Davenport (2015)
In the News
‘The Art of New Learning’, North East Times, October 2019, pp 8 – 11, available at https://netimesmagazine.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/On-topic-Nuture-oct-19-WEB.pdf
NUSTEM – Helping you find context for the Physics’, The Physics Teaching Podcast, 12 September 2019, available at: https://the.physicsteachingpodcast.com/2019/09/12/37-nustem-matching-physics-topics-with-careers-and-more/
‘Primary boys know more about jobs that girls’ , Schools Week, (2017) available online at https://schoolsweek.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/SW-112-digi.pdf, 2017, edition 112, pg 22
‘Can a new university close the gender gap in engineering?’, (2015) The Conversation, available at: https://theconversation.com/can-a-new-university-close-the-gender-gap-in-engineering-38453,
‘Parents can’t answer everything children ask about science – and that’s ok.’ (2015) The Conversation, available at https://theconversation.com/parents-cant-answer-everything-children-ask-about-science-and-thats-ok-50419
‘Why girls are shunning A-level Physics’, Schools Week, 2014. Available at http://schoolsweek.co.uk/researched-2014-souvenir-edition/ pg.4
‘Engineering: It’s a Family Affair’, (2017), IET Partner News, Issue 33, pg 11
IET Partner News, available at Engineering: A family affair