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Archaeology and STEM in primary school education: integration and development

Hodkinson, Poppy 2022. Archaeology and STEM in primary school education: integration and development. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis is borne out of concerns about the uptake of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education (and by extension, careers) amongst the UK population. Arguments for increasing the number of people participatingin STEM, inspired the author to examine how archaeology might contribute. Archaeology occupies a unique position at the nexus of humanities, arts and STEM, making it apotentialtool in engaging learners who have not connected with STEM via traditional means. Self-concepts and identity are critical contributors to STEM participation, fed by individuals’ understanding of the skills and aptitudes they possess. This thesis explores the impact that engaging with archaeology can have on learners’ perceptions oftheir abilities and suitability for STEM. Early STEM experiences are key indicators for future engagement, thereforethis project focuseson primary level children. 233 pupils from 5 primary schools participated in three archaeological interventions, delivered throughout one academic year. Multi-modal data collection methods trackedpotential changes in participants’ STEM self-concepts. Data collection comprised questionnaires and child-friendly interview techniques to assess participants’ perceptions of skills, aptitudes and identity. Participants demonstrated the capacity to develop nuance in their STEM perceptions throughout multiple peer discussions. Results highlighted shortcomings of the STEM acronym when considering skill usage, and revealed the importance of interdisciplinary education in supporting learners’engagementwith concepts of ability and identity across the curriculum. Many participants did not fully appreciate the relationship between their interests and STEM practice, indicating thatmore can be done by educators to capitalise upon this. Curriculum reform, currently underway in Wales, represents a crucial opportunity to adopt a new approach to STEM education. Embedding interdisciplinary subjects like archaeology into primary education empowerslearners to engage with skills/aptitudes throughout the curriculum, and supportsindividuals to understand the value of their contributions within STEM contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Funders: AHRC, South West & Wales Doctoral Training Partnership
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 January 2023
Date of Acceptance: 23 January 2023
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2024 05:42

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