Abstract: Research commissioned by the Science Council suggests that by 2017 over 58% of all new jobs will require Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills. Ofsted (2011) reports however demonstrate progression rates of students to specialist science courses are low. Wide ranging set of outreach programmes have been designed to raise the aspirations of students to expand science higher education participation in the United Kingdom. A range of STEM initiatives currently operate to enthuse young minds. What policies ensued and how successful have they been?
The widening participation agenda seeks to remediate unfair under-representation of certain social class or ethnic groups in higher education (HE). Attempts to check the growing exclusion patterns in HE (as claimed by researchers) aim to create a successful learning society by providing high quality general education, post-compulsory education and training system with access to suitable opportunities for life-long learning, a fulfilled life for individuals, a successful and developing economy, a genuinely participative democracy, equality of opportunity in employment and citizenship. However in trying to foster social justice will greater access for students from under-represented groups in HE with a low population share, do injustice to over represented groups with a higher share in population?
HE participation has been slowly widening for decades. Opportunities for post-compulsory education and training available to the entire adult population still reflect under-representation of certain groups, suggesting a pervading problem. Considering the apparent impact of STEM initiatives in widening participation in Science tertiary education, efforts will be made to analyse whether such initiatives have been successful in overcoming barriers to participation. This study aims to evaluate the effect of such measures by analysing A-level performances and future learning trajectories of students.
Evidence collection to support a possible causal claim between participation in extracurricular activities (STEM schemes) and improvement in opting and achieving high in STEM subjects would be dealt with in two phases-
- The first phase of this research using Time series Regression Analysis would try to understand the points of decline or motivation in STEM participation and the factors involved- one of which could possibly be STEM initiatives.
- The second phase using Naturalistic Quasi Experimental Design, would compare outcomes of respondents with STEM intervention (experimental group) with those without STEM intervention (the comparator group).
Performance and participation of these students in STEM subjects would be compared to evaluate the impact of STEM initiatives. Predicted learning trajectories would be compared with actual learning trajectories through Statistical analysis. Any deviation could then be possibly attributed to STEM schemes.