Mathematics teachers’ perceptions and implementation levels of STEM education in their classrooms: A case study of eleven secondary schools in Gweru District, Zimbabwe

Silvanos Chirume

Abstract


The Government of Zimbabwe has recently pledged to fully fund the education of “O” Level graduates who choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)- related subjects at “A” Level in public schools. Students can register for three or more subjects that include Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. This is so because the government considers that if students are educated in these STEM subjects they may become critical thinkers and innovators who are able to produce goods and services that transform and sustain the economy. This study sought to provide answers to the following two questions; First, how do secondary school mathematics teachers perceive the idea of STEM education? Second, to what extent do they implement STEM education in their classrooms? This was done through a case study of eleven purposely selected secondary schools within a cluster in Gweru District, Zimbabwe. A structured questionnaire with some open ended questions was administered to 44 secondary school mathematics teachers comprising at least three from each of the selected schools. Thirty four teachers returned the questionnaires. Data were analysed both quantitatively by calculating teachers’ STEM education perception levels and implementation levels and qualitatively by finding emerging trends and themes from their responses to open-ended questions. It was found that the secondary mathematics teachers in the selected schools in Gweru had neutral to negative perceptions or beliefs towards STEM, that they rated themselves low on STEM education implementation and said they did not know how to implement STEM education in their classrooms. It is recommended that STEM workshops for mathematics teachers be carried out and that teachers and students should perceive STEM education positively and implement it with an aim of bringing scientific and technological changes that improve the economy of Zimbabwe. The government should craft out a STEM education policy. The findings of the study are critical as they may assist STEM-teachers and mathematics educators on how to indigenise and ‘STEMITISE’ the Zimbabwe secondary school mathematics curriculum.

Keywords


Teachers’ perceptions, implementation level, STEM education, mathematics classrooms, scientific and technological change, ZimAsset

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