Research in Science Education

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 219–242 | Cite as

Technology-Enhanced Science Partnership Initiative: Impact on Secondary Science Teachers

  • Wan NgEmail author
  • Jennifer Fergusson


The issue of student disengagement in school science continues to pose a threat to lifting the participation rates of students undertaking STEM courses and careers in Australia and other countries globally. In Australia, several science initiatives to reverse the problem have been funded over the last two decades. Many of these initiatives involve partnerships with scientists, science educators and with industries, as is the case in this paper. The research in this paper investigated a recent partnership initiative between secondary science teachers, scientists and an educational technology company to produce science e-modules on adaptive learning platforms, enabling students to engage in personalised, inquiry-based learning and the investigation of real-world problems. One of the objectives of the partnership project was to build theoretical and pedagogical skills in teachers to deliver science by exposing them to new ways of engaging students with new digital tools, for example analytics. Using a mixed methods approach, the research investigated science teachers’ pedagogical involvement in the partnership project and their perceptions of the project’s impact on their teaching and students’ learning. The findings indicate that the teachers believed that new technology could enhance their teaching and students’ learning and that while their students were motivated by the online modules, there was still a need for scaffolding for many of the students. The effectiveness of this would depend on the teachers’ ability to internalise the new technological and content knowledge resulting from the partnership and realign them with their existing pedagogical framework. The research is significant in identifying elements for successful partnership projects as well as challenges that need to be considered. It is significant in facilitating continuous discourse about new evidence-based pedagogical approaches to science education in engaging students to learn STEM subjects in a twenty-first century digitally connected future that is focused on learning at a personal level.


Science partnership project STEM education Science e-modules Secondary science teachers TPACK 



This research was supported by the Australian Government funded Australian Mathematics and Science Partnership Program. The authors wish to thank all involved in the project: Dr. Carol Oliver, Professor Steven Sherwood, Dr. Angela Maharaj and Dr. Louise Lutze-Mann from the University of New South Wales, Associate Prof. Allison Imrie from the University of Western Australia, Prof. Joe Shapter, Prof. Martin Westwell and Diana Pham from Flinders University and Dr. Dror Ben-Naim and Jacqui Hayes from Smart Sparrow.


  1. Ainley, J., Kos, J., & Nicholas, M. (2008). Participation in Science, Mathematics and Technology in Australian education.
  2. Allan, W. C., Erickson, J. L., Brookhouse, P., & Johnson, J. L. (2010). Teacher professional development through a collaborative curriculum project–an example of TPACK in Maine. TechTrends, 54(6), 36–43.Google Scholar
  3. Angeli, C., & Valanides, N. (2013). Technology mapping: an approach for developing technological pedagogical content knowledge. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 48(2), 199–221.Google Scholar
  4. Aubusson, P., Treagust, D., & Harrison, A. (2009). Learning and teaching science with analogies and metaphors.Google Scholar
  5. Beckman, K., Bennett, S., & Lockyer, L. (2014). Understanding students’ use and value of technology for learning. Learning, Media and Technology, 39(3), 346–367.Google Scholar
  6. Bissaker, K. (2014). Transforming STEM education in an innovative Australian school: the role of teachers’ and academics’ professional partnerships. Theory Into Practice, 53(1), 55–63.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, J., Bokor, J., Crippen, K., & Koroly, M. (2014). Translating current science into materials for high school via a scientist-teacher partnership. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 25(3), 239–262.Google Scholar
  8. Caton, E., Brewer, C., & Brown, F. (2000). Building teacher-scientist partnerships: teaching about energy through inquiry. School Science and Mathematics, 100(1), 7–15.Google Scholar
  9. Chai, C. S., Koh, J. H. L., & Tsai, C.-C. (2013). A review of technological pedagogical content knowledge. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 16(2), 31–51.Google Scholar
  10. Clark, J. C., Tytler, R., & Symington, D. (2014). School-community collaborations: bringing authentic science into schools. Teaching Science, 60(3), 28–34.Google Scholar
  11. Creswell, J. W., Shope, R., Plano Clark, V. L., & Green, D. O. (2006). How interpretive qualitative research extends mixed methods research. Research in the Schools, 13(1), 1–11.Google Scholar
  12. Crook, C., Harrison, C., Farrington-Flint, L., Tomás, C., & Underwood, J. (2010). The impact of technology: value-added classroom practice.Google Scholar
  13. Daly, C., Pachler, N., & Pelletier, C. (2009). Continuing professional development in ICT for teachers: a literature review.Google Scholar
  14. Dobson, I. R. (2012). Unhealthy Science? University Natural and Physical Sciences 2002 to 2009/10. A study commissioned by the Chief Scientist.Google Scholar
  15. Dwyer, D. C., Ringstaff, C., Haymore, J., & Sandholtz, P. (1994). Apple classrooms of tomorrow. Educational Leadership, 51(7), 4–10.Google Scholar
  16. Eng, T. S. (2005). The impact of ICT on learning: a review of research. International Education Journal, 6(5), 635–650.Google Scholar
  17. Epstein, D., & Miller, R. T. (2011). Slow off the mark: elementary school teachers and the crisis in science, technology, engineering, and math education. Center for American Progress.Google Scholar
  18. Falloon, G., & Trewern, A. (2013). Developing school-scientist partnerships: lessons for scientists from forests-of-life. [article]. Journal of Science Education & Technology, 22(1), 11–24. doi: 10.1007/s10956-012-9372-1.Google Scholar
  19. Fensham, P. J. (2004). Engagement with science: an international issue that goes beyond knowledge. Paper presented at the Paper presented at the SMEC Conference.Google Scholar
  20. Fensham, P. J. (2005). Literacy, scientific. In K. Kempf-Leonard (Ed.), Encyclopedia of social measurement (Vol. 2, pp. (541–547), Vol. 2). Oxford: Elsevier Academic Press.Google Scholar
  21. Friedman, L. W., & Friedman, H. H. (2011). Worlds collide: exploring the use of social media technologies for online learning. In Decision Sciences Institute Conference. Google Scholar
  22. Gardner, H., & Davis, K. (2013). The app generation: how today’s youth navigate identity, intimacy, and imagination in a digital World: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Goodrum, D. (2006). Inquiry in science classrooms-rhetoric or reality? 2006-Boosting Science Learning-What will it take?, 11.Google Scholar
  24. Goodrum, D., Hackling, M., & Rennie, L. (2001). The status and quality of teaching and learning of science in Australian schools: a research report. Canberra: Department of Education, Training and Youth affairs.Google Scholar
  25. Goodrum, D., Druhan, A., & Abbs, J. (2012). The status and quality of year 11 and 12 science in Australian schools: report prepared for the Office of the Chief Scientist. Canberra: Australian Academy of Science.Google Scholar
  26. Guba, E. G. (1981). ERIC/ECTJ annual review paper: criteria for assessing the trustworthiness of naturalistic inquiries. Educational Communication and Technology, 29(2), 75–91.Google Scholar
  27. Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1994). Competing paradigms in qualitative research. Handbook of qualitative research, 2(163–194), 105.Google Scholar
  28. Guzey, S. S., & Roehrig, G. H. (2012). Integrating educational technology into the secondary science teaching. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 12(2), 162–183.Google Scholar
  29. Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Hattie, J., & Yates, G. C. (2013). Visible learning and the science of how we learn: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Hechter, R. P., & Vermette, L. A. (2013). Technology integration in K-12 science classrooms: an analysis of barriers and implications. [article]. Themes in Science & Technology Education, 6(2), 73–90.Google Scholar
  32. Higgins, S. (2003). Does ICT improve learning and teaching in schools? A professional user review of UK research undertaken for the British Educational Research Association. Newcastle: University of Newcastle.Google Scholar
  33. Higgins, S., Xiao, Z., & Katsipataki, M. (2012). The impact of digital technology on learning: a summary for the education endowment foundation. Durham, UK: Education Endowment Foundation and Durham University.Google Scholar
  34. Hogarth, S., Bennett, J., Lubben, F., Campbell, B., & Robinson, A. (2006). ICT in science teaching. Technical report. Research evidence in education library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.Google Scholar
  35. Houseal, A. K., Abd-El-Khalick, F., & Destefano, L. (2014). Impact of a student–teacher–scientist partnership on students’ and teachers’ content knowledge, attitudes toward science, and pedagogical practices. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 51(1), 84–115. doi: 10.1002/tea.21126.Google Scholar
  36. Howitt, C., Rennie, L., Heard, M., & Yuncken, L. (2009). The scientists in school project. Teaching Science, 55(1), 35–38.Google Scholar
  37. Jiang, F., & McComas, W. F. (2015). The effects of inquiry teaching on student science achievement and attitudes: evidence from propensity score analysis of PISA data. International Journal of Science Education, 37(3), 554–576. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2014.1000426.Google Scholar
  38. Jimoyiannis, A. (2010). Designing and implementing an integrated technological pedagogical science knowledge framework for science teachers professional development. Computers & Education, 55(3), 1259–1269.Google Scholar
  39. Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2014a). NMCHorizon report: 2014 higher (Education ed.). Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.Google Scholar
  40. Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2014b). NMC horizon report: 2014 K-12 edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.Google Scholar
  41. Kennedy, J. P., Lyons, T., & Quinn, F. (2014). The continuing decline of science and mathematics enrolments in Australian high schools. Teaching Science, 60(2), 34–46.Google Scholar
  42. Keogh, K. (2011). Using mobile phones for teaching, learning and assessing Irish in Ireland: processes, benefits and challenges. In W. Ng (Ed.), Mobile technologies and handheld devices for ubiquitous learning: research and pedagogy (pp. 236–258). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.Google Scholar
  43. Khan, S. (2011). New pedagogies on teaching science with computer simulations. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20(3), 215–232. doi: 10.1007/s10956-010-9247-2.Google Scholar
  44. Kidman, G. (2012). Australia at the crossroads: a review of school science practical work. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 8(1), 35–47.Google Scholar
  45. Koehler, M. J., Mishra, P., Kereluik, K., Shin, T. S., & Graham, C. R. (2014). The technological pedagogical content knowledge framework. In Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 101–111): Springer.Google Scholar
  46. Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry (Vol. 75): Sage.Google Scholar
  47. Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1986). But is it rigorous? Trustworthiness and authenticity in naturalistic evaluation. New Directions for Program Evaluation, 1986(30), 73–84.Google Scholar
  48. Lyons, T. (2006). Different countries, same science classes: students’ experiences of school science in their own words. International Journal of Science Education, 28(6), 591–613.Google Scholar
  49. Lyons, T, & Quinn, F. (2010). Choosing Science: Understanding the declines in senior high school science enrolments. National Centre of Science, ICT and mathematics education for rural and regional Australia (SiMERR Australia): University of New England.Google Scholar
  50. Maeng, J. L., Mulvey, B. K., Smetana, L. K., & Bell, R. L. (2013). Preservice teachers’ TPACK: using technology to support inquiry instruction. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 22(6), 838–857.Google Scholar
  51. Marginson, S., Tytler, R., Freeman, B., & Roberts, K. (2013). STEM: country comparisons. Report for the Australian Council of Learned Academies.Google Scholar
  52. Massey, O. T. (2011). A proposed model for the analysis and interpretation of focus groups in evaluation research. Evaluation and Program Planning, 34(1), 21–28.Google Scholar
  53. McLaughlin, C. A., Broo, J., MacFadden, B. J., & Moran, S. (2015). Not looking a gift horse in the mouth: exploring the merits of a student–teacher–scientist partnership. Journal of Biological Education, 1–11. doi: 10.1080/00219266.2015.1028571.
  54. McWilliam, E., Poronnik, P., & Taylor, P. G. (2008). Re-designing science pedagogy: reversing the flight from science. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 17(3), 226–235.Google Scholar
  55. Millar, R. (2012). Doing science (RLE Edu O): images of science in science education: Routledge.Google Scholar
  56. Minner, D. D., Levy, A. J., & Century, J. (2010). Inquiry-based science instruction—what is it and does it matter? Results from a research synthesis years 1984 to 2002. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(4), 474–496.Google Scholar
  57. Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: a framework for teacher knowledge. The Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017–1054.Google Scholar
  58. Mistler-Jackson, M., & Songer, N. B. (2000). Student motivation and internet technology: are students empowered to learn science? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37(5), 459–479.Google Scholar
  59. Morse, J. M. (2015). Critical analysis of strategies for determining rigor in qualitative inquiry. Qualitative Health Research, 25(9), 1212–1222.Google Scholar
  60. Ng, W. (2008). Self-directed learning with web-based sites: how well do students’ perceptions and thinking match with their teachers? Teaching Science, 54(2), 24–27.Google Scholar
  61. Ng, W. (2012). Empowering scientific literacy through digital literacy and multiliteracies: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  62. Ng, W. (2015). New digital Technologies in Education: Conceptualising professional learning for educators. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  63. Niess, M. L., van Zee, E. H., & Gillow-Wiles, H. (2010). Knowledge growth in teaching mathematics/science with spreadsheets: moving PCK to TPACK through online professional development. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 27(2), 42–52.Google Scholar
  64. OECD (2015). Students, computers and learning: making the connection. PISA, OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
  65. Office of the Chief Scientist (2012a). Health of Australian Science. In A. Government (Ed.). Canberra.Google Scholar
  66. Office of the Chief Scientist (2012b). Mathematics, engineering and science in the national interest.Google Scholar
  67. Office of the Chief Scientist (2014). Science, technology, engineering and mathematics: Australia’s future.Google Scholar
  68. Parr, G., Bellis, N., & Bulfin, S. (2013). Teaching English teachers for the future: speaking back to TPACK. English in Australia, 48(1), 9.Google Scholar
  69. Pedretti, E., Mayer-Smith, J., & Woodrow, J. (1998). Technology, text, and talk: students’ perspectives on teaching and learning in a technology-enhanced secondary science classroom. Science Education, 82(5), 569–589.Google Scholar
  70. Pegrum, M., Oakley, G., & Faulkner, R. (2013). Schools going mobile: a study of the adoption of mobile handheld technologies in Western Australian independent schools. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 29(1).Google Scholar
  71. Pittard, V., Bannister, P., & Dunn, J. (2003). The big pICTure: the impact of ICT on attainment, motivation and learning: DfES.Google Scholar
  72. Prain, V., Tytler, R., & Peterson, S. (2009). Multiple representation in learning about evaporation. International Journal of Science Education, 31(6), 787–808.Google Scholar
  73. Price, L., & Kirkwood, A. (2010). Technology enhanced learning–where’s the evidence? Curriculum, technology & transformation for an unknown future. In Proceedings Ascilite, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (pp. 772–782).Google Scholar
  74. Punie, Y., Zinnbauer, D., & Cabrera, M. (2008). A review of the impact of ICT on learning. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  75. Reimann, P., & Goodyear, P. (2004). ICT and Pedagogy Stimulus Paper, version 3.3. Growing up digital, wired for distraction. (2010, November 21). The New York Times.Google Scholar
  76. Romeo, G., Lloyd, M., & Downes, T. (2013). Teaching teachers for the future: how, what, why, and what next? Australian Educational Computing, 27(3), 3–12.Google Scholar
  77. Rutten, N., van der Veen, J. T., & van Joolingen, W. R. (2015). Inquiry-based whole-class teaching with computer simulations in physics. International Journal of Science Education, 37(8), 1225–1245. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2015.1029033.Google Scholar
  78. Saunders-Stewart, K. S., Gyles, P. D. T., & Shore, B. M. (2012). Student outcomes in inquiry instruction: a literature-derived inventory. Journal of Advanced Academics, 23(1), 5–31. doi: 10.1177/1932202x11429860.Google Scholar
  79. Shear, L., Gallagher, L., & Pattel, D. (2011). ITL research 2011 findings: evolving educational ecosystems. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.Google Scholar
  80. Shulman, L. S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1–23.Google Scholar
  81. Smith, E. (2010). Is there a crisis in school science education in the UK? Educational Review, 62(2), 189–202.Google Scholar
  82. Stolk, M. J., De Jong, O., Bulte, A. M., & Pilot, A. (2011). Exploring a framework for professional development in curriculum innovation: empowering teachers for designing context-based chemistry education. Research in Science Education, 41(3), 369–388.Google Scholar
  83. Tamim, R. M., Bernard, R. M., Borokhovski, E., Abrami, P. C., & Schmid, R. F. (2011). What forty years of research says about the impact of technology on learning a second-order meta-analysis and validation study. Review of Educational Research, 81(1), 4–28.Google Scholar
  84. Toth, E. E. (2009). “Virtual inquiry” in the science classroom: what is the role of technological Pedagogial content knowledge? International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education (IJICTE), 5(4), 78–87.Google Scholar
  85. Tytler, R. (2007a). Re-imagining science education: engaging students in science for Australia’s future. Australian education review (51st ed.). Camberwell, Victoria: Australian Council for Educational Research.Google Scholar
  86. Tytler, R., Symington, D., & Smith, C. (2011). A curriculum innovation framework for science, technology and mathematics education. Research in Science Education, 41(1), 19–38. doi: 10.1007/s11165-009-9144-y.Google Scholar
  87. Voogt, J., Fisser, P., Pareja Roblin, N., Tondeur, J., & van Braak, J. (2013). Technological pedagogical content knowledge—a review of the literature. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(2), 109–121.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of Technology SydneyUltimoAustralia

Personalised recommendations