How do rural Australian students' ethnogeographies related to people and place influence their STEM career aspirations?

Journal article


Mills, Reece, Scholes, Laura, Stahl, Garth, McDonald, Sarah, Comber, Barbara and Lunn Brownlee, Jo. (2021). How do rural Australian students' ethnogeographies related to people and place influence their STEM career aspirations? International Journal of Science Education. 43(14), pp. 2333-2350. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2021.1961326
AuthorsMills, Reece, Scholes, Laura, Stahl, Garth, McDonald, Sarah, Comber, Barbara and Lunn Brownlee, Jo
Abstract

Few studies in science education have examined how place-based experiences influence students’ STEM career aspirations. Rural school students’ lived experiences of place and non-traditional STEM career aspirations such as farming are scarcely considered in dominant narratives around science aspirations and career pathways. Adopting a critical relational perspective that considers place as a lived experience we ask How do rural Australian students’ ethnogeographies related to people and place influence their STEM career aspirations? Drawing on a broader study (n = 45) of science aspirations, we focus on semi-structured interviews with six middle school students (13–14 years of age) in rural Australia who aspire to be farmers. Thematic analysis of the data demonstrates students’ intended careers as farmers relate to their connections to people and belonging to place. This article works through rural-urban binaries to present a counternarrative that legitimises farming as an important STEM career for young people and challenges dominant narratives around post-compulsory participation in senior secondary school and tertiary science as the ideal or only career pathway. Finally, implications of our findings for designing place-conscious school science education are discussed. This includes place-attentive strategies related to policy, pathways, and practice that appreciate the complex realities, strengths, and inequities in rural communities.

KeywordsSTEM education; science education; rural education; aspirations; children's geographies; ethnogeography; place; place-conscious pedagogy
Year2021
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
International Journal of Science Education
Journal citation43 (14), pp. 2333-2350
PublisherRoutledge
ISSN0950-0693
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2021.1961326
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85114023681
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range2333-2350
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online01 Sep 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted25 Jul 2021
Deposited23 Nov 2021
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