From February, 12th till February, 15th 2020, EASTEM partner university representatives gathered in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This meeting primarily focused on the preparations for implementing Work Package 2 (WP2) and Work Package 3 (WP3) at the Asian partner universities leading to the following main results:
- Development of a joint framework for ToT courses
- STEM centre guidelines finalized and certified by the EASTEM project
- STEM centre staff training workshop completed
- WP2: Run and evaluate the ToT courses
- WP3: Establish the STEM centres and demonstrate how they operate and how they are staffed
On February 12th, WP 3 group presented finalized guidelines for the STEM centres to be set up at each university, discussing the specific features of each university’s STEM centre and the challenges involved with setting up a STEM centre at the respective university. On February 13th, the WP 3 group had a staff training workshop to train staff who will work in the STEM centres. On February 14th, the group discussed what challenges remain with setting up the STEM centres.
In parallel, EASTEM WP 2 contact persons convened in Chiang Mai to discuss implementation and evaluation of the ToT courses. In the WP 2 group, CMU, HCMUTE and PSU shared lessons learnt from the ToT courses they had run at their own universities. Following this, all partners discussed in groups and collaboratively developed a guiding document or framework for the ToT courses, “How to run and evaluate a ToT course”. The next step in WP 2 will be for all Asian partners to run and evaluate their ToT courses before the meeting in Yogyakarta on 15-17 June 2020. On February 15th, most EASTEM partners took part in a conference on STEM education organised by Chiang Mai University (CMU) with schools and industry representatives.
Below, there is a brief recap of each partner university’s STEM centre as introduced at the Chiang Mai meeting:
Suthida Chamrat of Chiang Mai University (CMU) explained that CMU’s STEM centre unit would be under the university’s Teaching and Learning Innovation Centre (TLIC), doing training for STEM disciplines. She described the group of lecturers transforming teaching and learning as a success factor. Meanwhile, Suthida noted some difficulty in transferring concepts from K-12 like STEM education to university lecturers who might not be familiar with them.
Nguyen Vu Lan of Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education (HCMUTE) stated that his university had a similar experience to CMU in planning and establishing its Center for Excellence in Scientific Research and Technical Innovation. The lack of a common policy for STEM programmes was highlighted as a reason for establishing a STEM centre. While HCMUTE faculty members already runs activities such as STEM clubs, the university hopes to secure additional funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to build physical STEM centre facilities for such activities.
From Institut Teknologi Del (IT DEL), Johannes Sianipar shared the plans for setting up a learning centre for STEM based education, training both faculty members and K-12 schools. Johannes noted that the small size of the university and strong support from its leadership simplifies things. Still, a persisting challenge is that some lecturers have an old teaching methodology and are unwilling to change.
Achmad Imam Kistijantoro from Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) explained that his university has a new Directorate for Education Development under the Vice Rector of Academic and Study Affairs that the STEM centre could be integrated into. The centre will provide training for lecturers from all faculties and to a lesser degree students, potentially also high schools. Like HCMUTE, ITB also has an introduction course to engineering design. Imam noted that the course’s implementation had encountered difficulties stemming from differences in teaching styles among lecturers.
The strong point of the STEM centre of Mahidol University Faculty of Science (MUSC) is its bottom-up structure, argued Wasakorn Laesanklang. To have the interdisciplinary School of Bioinnovation as the link between the STEM centre and the 12 other Departments of MUSC provides neutral ground for collaboration. STEM centre members are involved with STEM teaching/learning in different levels and connecting with high schools through the MUSC School Network, which provides funding for STEM camps. Wasakorn noted that university might need to find other sources of funding in the future, especially if there is a change in policy at ministry level.
I Made Supartha Utama from Udayana University (UNUD) introduced his university’s Center for Learning Innovation, focusing on STEM based education and ToT for teachers and K-12 on course-level rather than study programme-level. UNUD’s STEM centre plan includes regular workshops with external stakeholders to assess the weaknesses/strengths of the implementation of STEM based learning. These stakeholders are also involved in designing curricula. UNUD puts a strong emphasis on integrated/interdisciplinary STEM education and not only student-centered learning (SCL). The new national standard in Indonesia which makes it compulsory for each students to do 3 semesters outside of his/her main study programme was mentioned as an opportunity for STEM education.
From Hung Yen University of Technology and Education (UTEHY), Nguyen Van-Hau explained how his university had been inspired by HCMUTE in setting up their STEM centre. In establishing the centre, UTEHY benefits from its close cooperation with high schools (10 MoUs) and with VET education. The funding for its STEM centre is predicted to come both from the university’s own funding, the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam (MOET) and from enterprises.
Hoang Huu Hanh from Hue University of Sciences (HUS) described the plans for establishing a STEM Training and Research Centre (STAR), making use of the university’s advantage in IT and architecture. The centre will be involved with research in STEM subjects, use innovative teaching methods such as PBL and connect with high schools. Success factors will be convincing top management and improving coordination among faculties.