University of Tasmania

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Building STEM in schools: an Australian cross-case analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 23:10 authored by Falloon, G, Stevenson, M, Kim Beswick, Sharon FraserSharon Fraser, Geiger, V
The Principals as STEM Leaders (PASL) project was an Australian Government-funded national research and professional learning programme for principals, aimed at building STEM leadership capacity. The project involved cluster-based delivery of six learning modules and generation of case studies outlining schools’ different approaches to STEM education and STEM leadership. This article analyses factors contributing to the development of four contrasting schools’ STEM profiles, identifying the unique approaches and leadership strategies each adopted in designing STEM curriculum for meeting the learning needs of their diverse students. It positions these schools’ endeavours within the broader PASL professional learning programme, adding to the limited body of empirical work detailing different approaches schools take to the ‘STEM challenge’, which, for most, presents a disruptive innovation to traditional curriculum and structures. The vital role of school leaders in communicating a clear, evidence-based vision for STEM and also ‘walking the talk’ and being highly engaged in STEM programmes, was a common feature across the cases. This built relational trust, and a strong whole-of-school commitment to and understanding of STEM, to some extent mitigating the challenges of rigid curriculum and external assessment requirements. The study highlights the complex interaction of professional learning, leadership, curriculum design, pedagogy, and school culture in establishing innovative STEM programmes in schools.


Department of Education Tasmania


Publication title

Educational Technology and Society










Faculty of Education


International Forum of Educational Technology & Society

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2021 Elsevier B.V.. This article of the journal of Educational Technology & Society is available under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 license (

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Management, resources and leadership; Teacher and instructor development