This paper explores the outcomes of the initial phase of an industry-focussed STEM project which places final year Design and Technology pre-service teachers (PST) into industry placements.
The overall aim of the project, titled Teaching for Tomorrow: Applying Authentic Contexts in STEM Teacher Education, is to provide an opportunity to prepare and support Design and Technology, Science and Mathematics pre-service teachers to become STEM education leaders. The project also aims to give PST the skills and experience to develop sustainable school-indust1y partnerships during their university studies and when they commence teaching.
The three-phase project, a partnership between the School of Education at University of South Australia and the South Australian Department of State Development, commenced late 2015 and will finish at the end of 2017. During the first semester of 2016, twenty Design and Technology pre-service teachers undertook an industry placement to help them develop an awareness of the key competencies and capabilities required by the manufacturing and engineering workforce and to gain hands-on learning experiences to better inform their subject content knowledge. The pre-service teachers also had the opportunity to utilise problem-based strategies and industry collaborations as the impetus for planning future inquiry and problem-based projects in STEM education.
Drawing on qualitative data collated from questionnaires, focus group discussions and journal entries, this paper reports on the benefits, challenges and future opportunities for industry placements within Design and Technology teacher education programs. The pre-service teachers reported many benefits at both a personal and professional level and fostered an awareness and understanding of the relationship between design processes, products, marketing and the needs of industry and the consumer.