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Durham University

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Transforming the pedagogy in STEM subjects

A research project of the School of Education.


Didactic teaching, with transmission lectures and “recitations scripts” of closed teacher questions (Alexander, 2005), is a recognised problem in STEM subjects in both developed and developing nations. It restricts development of reasoning skills that are much needed in workplaces and for citizenship in 21st century societies (Bao et al., 2009; Ravetz, 2003), and has negative influence on students’ motivation for learning and is therefore a threat to recruitment in STEM subjects (Osborne and Collins, 2001; 2003?). The European Community (2007) recognises both problems and has aimed much funding towards changing the pedagogy of science teaching. In low-income developing nations, however, in spite of didactic teaching being an even bigger problem, such resources are not available.


The project is funded by the following grant.

  • Transforming The Pedagogy Of Stem Subjects (£382073.40 from ESRC)


The intention of the study is therefore to investigate strategies for transforming STEM subjects from didactic to dialogical teaching in these nations, looking particularly on scientific reasoning skills, and to provide policy makers with evidence for how and why the strategies may, or may not, work. The study has grown out of a long collaboration between researchers at Durham University (DU) and Addis Ababa University (AAU and is carried out within MoUs established between these universities and College of Teacher Education (CTEs) in Ethiopia. One aim is to build local expertise for investigating and solving educational problems, but the project will also provide data and new knowledge of interest to international educational research.


From the School of Education

From other departments