STEM-ERC Research Group (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Education Research and Communication)
STEM-ERC is the most recent group to be formed in the School, and it was officially launched in 2015. It has emerged out of the growing need for the University to enhance considerably the links between science departments and education. The School of Education is already working closely with colleagues in the Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science (mostly in Physics, Engineering, Chemistry, Zoology, Biochemistry and Mathematics) and with the Science Gallery, and is keen to build on existing success and provide a structure which will promote further research and development in STEM education in Trinity and beyond. It is anticipated that the synergy of educationalists, social scientists and STEM education colleagues working together, will have significant transformative potential in teaching and research. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics play an increasingly important role in addressing critical needs of society and generating innovation that drives the global economy. Members of the STEM-ERC group are committed to providing equitable access to STEM careers and literacy through innovative and socially responsive research, teaching, and teacher preparation informed by the learning sciences.
Within the School, the STEM-ERC group comprises five academic members of staff and three adjuncts (Noirin Hayes, visiting professor, Aoibhinn Ní Shuilleabháin, University College Dublin and Dr Shane Bergin, University College Dublin). The School also has 7 PhD/D.Ed. students undertaking research under various STEM-ERC themes. Beyond the core membership, one of the key aims of the group is to build a network of colleagues beyond the School, and in particular to involve colleagues from the Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science.
Research in the group focuses on learning, communicating and teaching the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in both formal and informal contexts. It spans STEM education and research in higher education, secondary, primary, early childhood, as well as informal STEM learning in all age groups. Current focus areas in higher education include, but are not restricted to: teaching innovations in undergraduate physics and engineering labs (using problem based learning and cooperative learning); impact on scientists of participating in public engagement; science outreach activities: developing communication and impact; use of peer- assisted learning (clickers) in science lectures; improving STEM learning through coteaching; cognitive acceleration and inquiry-based learning in chemistry. The synergy of scientists and STEM education colleagues working together has transformative potential in teaching and research. The inter-disciplinary nature of this group will also be beneficial in grant applications. Colleagues from STEM-ERC and CAVE have secured approval to publish a new journal: Science Learning in Higher Education, with Springer Publishing. The Editorial Board is in the process of being finalized. To date the group has attracted 30,000 Euro joint funding to develop teaching innovations from two Trinity faculties: FEMS and AHSS, as well as from the Schools of Education and Physics.