During the course of this five-year project, detailed monitoring and evaluation will be undertaken to determine what works and why in Indigenous STEM education.

This monitoring and evaluation is designed to measure progress towards the overarching goal 'to provide supported pathways that improve the participation and achievement of Indigenous students in STEM subjects' bearing in mind the aspirational goal to 'increase Indigenous representation in STEM-related professions'.

First Evaluation Report

This evaluation is primarily an implementation evaluation of the Indigenous STEM Education Project from commencement to June 2016. Three main data sources were used: a literature review of Indigenous STEM education engagement, policy, and practice; interviews with project directors and program element leaders; and program element leaders' program materials and reports. The literature review provides important contextual information on both Indigenous education and STEM education, and where the two intersect.

A key finding of the evaluation is that, guided by the Theory of Change and individual program logics, the initial implementation of the project is progressing well. Four of the six program elements – I2S2, PRIME Futures and Bachelor of Science (Extended), and ASSETS – have achieved the majority of their initial projected program outputs and short term outcomes. Science Pathways commenced in 2016 and is on track to meet its projected short term outcomes in early 2017; and the Indigenous STEM Awards program will have its first round in December 2016.

Revised Impact Pathways (program logics and Theory of Change)

Indigenous STEM Education Project Impact Statements

The First Evaluation Report [pdf · 5mb] found that the initial qualitative and quantitative evidence is supportive of the effective implementation of the program elements’ initial outputs and outcomes as articulated in the individual program logics. However, a key weakness identified with the Theory of Change by the Indigenous STEM Education Project Steering Committee was its lack of clarity in effectively identifying the key drivers of change at the project level. This contributed to a key finding in the First Evaluation Report to more clearly identify the project Theory of Change impact pathways and refine the individual program element logics.

As part of this revision process, it was decided to call them program element and project ‘impact pathways’ to be consistent with broader CSIRO evaluation terminology. The revised project and program element impact pathways are available below.

Original Theory of Change

The original theory of change for the project is shown below. A theory of change is a specific and measurable description of a social change initiative. It defines all the aspects, both internal and assumptions of external contributions that are required to bring about a given long term goal – in this instance an overarching goal 'to provide supported pathways that improve the participation and achievement of Indigenous students in STEM subjects' and aspirational goal to 'increase Indigenous representation in STEM-related professions'. The revised impact pathways above build on this Theory of Change incorporating findings of the First Evaluation Report [pdf · 5mb].

Theory of Change diagram

The Indigenous STEM example of a theory of change diagram outlines the following:

  • aspirational goal - Increase Indigenous representation in STEM-related professions
  • other factors - Availability of STEM jobs; global and local economy; political environment
  • overarching goal - To provide supported pathways that improve the participation and achievement of Indigenous students in STEM subjects
  • outcomes - Improved teacher, teacher assistant and student capacity in science and mathematics; ; Increased number and improved achievement of students studying science and mathematics at school and university; Indigenous students recognised and rewarded for high achievement in STEM
  • outputs - School and cluster work plans, residential summer schools, leadership and cadetship program, awards program and ceremony, university curriculum and support program
  • target audience [students] - Lower Primary, Upper Primary, Junior Secondary, Senior Secondary, Tertiary
  • flow chart of components [inputs] -
    • SCIENCE PATHWAYS FOR INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES 
       Target: Primary and middle school students in remote Indigenous communities 
       Method: On-country projects as the context for learning western science linked to language and traditional ecological knowledge
    • INQUIRY FOR INDIGENOUS SCIENCE STUDENTS
      Target: Primary and middle school students in mainstream metropolitan and regional schools 
      Method: Hands-on, inquiry-based projects using contexts relevant to Indigenous students
    • COUNTING FUTURES 
      Target: Primary and middle school students in mainstream metropolitan and regional schools 
      Method: Authentic, school-developed approaches that change the culture of the teaching and learning of mathematics for Indigenous students
    • ABORIGINAL SUMMER SCHOOL FOR EXCELLENCE IN TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE 
      Target: High-achieving Year 10 students 
      Method: Cultural and academic residential camp followed by a leadership mentoring program through Years 11 and 12
    • EXCELLENCE AWARDS 
      Target: Primary and secondary school students 
      Method: High profile awards program rewarding excellence in STEM achievement
    • BACHELOR OF SCIENCE (EXTENDED) 
      Target: Indigenous students who show potential, but who might otherwise not have access to a BSc 
      Method: Extend the BSc by an extra year to provide academic skill development focussing on science and mathematics, and including explicit support for students 
  • partners - CSIRO, BHPB, partners, teachers, students

Sustainability 

A sustainability plan, based on evidence gathered during monitoring and evaluation, will be developed to outline and pursue explicit options for the future.

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