The Relevance of STEM: a Case Study of an Australian Secondary School as an Arena of STEM Curriculum Innovation and Enactment

Lihua Xu, Su Chi Fang*, Linda Hobbs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The relevance of STEM education has been promoted both in Australia and internationally, arising from increasing concerns with the shortages of a highly skilled workforce and economic pressures to increase national competitiveness. Against this backdrop of the global push to embed STEM in schools, this paper explores how Australian schools and teachers responded to this agenda. Employing the notion of relevance, this paper conducted a qualitative case study in an Australian secondary school to address the question: how the broad vision of STEM as a reform agenda was interpreted by teachers and framed in their school. The findings show that focusing on the relevance of STEM points to the potential utility and applicability of STEM when it is integrated into formal schooling, including the ways that STEM can be relevant for students, the curriculum, teaching practices, and the broader STEM context. STEM is made relevant because of these connections and the meanings that arise through that connecting. Moreover, the study illustrates that the teachers’ perceptions of the relevance of STEM education was informed by their backgrounds, experiences, and roles in school. Thus, even within one school, there can be different perspectives on how STEM can be made useful and applicable. Understanding these perspectives can be the first step towards the development of a shared vision required to facilitate school change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-689
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Science and Mathematics Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Feb


  • Relevance
  • STEM education
  • Teacher perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Mathematics


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