UK and USA university outreach practices: the need to develop STEM learning pedagogies for student ambassador activity

Gartland, Clare (2021) UK and USA university outreach practices: the need to develop STEM learning pedagogies for student ambassador activity. In: STEM in Science Education and S in STEM. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands, pp. 269-295. ISBN 9789004446052

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In the United States, the United Kingdom and other developed countries university outreach initiatives have been developed to promote progression in STEM subjects and increase uptake of STEM among women, poorer students and minority groups who are currently severely underrepresented on many post compulsory and undergraduate STEM courses. Research indicates that young people often dis-identify with STEM subjects and careers at an early age and highlights the importance of adult figures in motivating young people’s engagement. During the past two decades in the United Kingdom and the United States, university students have been widely used by universities to support STEM outreach work with younger students. These student ambassadors are generally assumed to act as positive role models for school students because of their proximity in age and life stage, and are widely seen as able to contribute to valuable STEM learning opportunities and to support progression in these subject areas.
This chapter draws on findings from two research studies, in the UK and US, exploring student ambassador STEM outreach activity with school age students, including the settings and content of activities and how ambassadors are matched with younger students. The studies reveal the potential of ambassadors to challenge younger students’ self-identities in relation to STEM, but also identify problems of organising and funding outreach to effectively engage large numbers of young people from underrepresented groups.
In the UK, university outreach activity is often located in administration and marketing departments with limited involvement of academic faculties, which can mean that the pedagogical aspect of activities are overlooked. In the US, while recruitment is still a focus, funding incentives and an emphasis on public engagement have led to increased engagement of academics and consideration of learning and teaching in outreach activity at some institutions. This chapter points to the need for a sharper focus on pedagogy, particularly in UK contexts, and an increased focus in both countries on outreach practice that effectively supports identification between student ambassadors and younger students whilst reaching wider audiences of young people. The chapter highlights the need for increased collaboration across universities to identify and support best practice and promote effective and far reaching student ambassador STEM outreach activity.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: STEM, equality, university outreach, widening participation, student ambassadors, informal learning
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Applied Social Sciences
Depositing User: David Upson-Dale
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2021 12:59
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2021 09:38

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