Research Topic

The Impact of Place-based Contextualised Curriculum on Student Engagement and Motivation in STEM Education

About this Research Topic

This article collection will focus on contributing to our understanding of how place-based, contextualized curricula can enhance student engagement in STEM during school. Curricula that draws on students’ local environments, creating a sense of purpose for their learning, has the potential to increase student interest in STEM subjects leading to greater engagement in learning of STEM concepts.

The growing importance of STEM skills for future careers is recognized across the world. At the same time, in some countries, there is a downturn in the numbers of students undertaking advanced mathematics and science courses in senior secondary school. Understanding how contextualized learning can act to promote student motivation and engagement with STEM in schools, could lead to greater student participation in STEM subjects in school, thereby increasing the pool of STEM skilled personnel within communities.

We know that some STEM subjects, particularly mathematics, can induce anxiety and fear in students, inhibiting their capacity to engage with and learn in these subjects. We also know that there are persistent gender differences, driven largely by differences in male and female levels of confidence, deeply embedded gender stereotypes about STEM careers, lack of female role models, teacher gender bias and irrelevant curricula. While there is some evidence that contextualised, relevant curricula can increase student interest and participation in STEM subjects in school, greater knowledge is required about mechanisms through which this process occurs.

This research topic will draw together empirical and theoretical research papers focussed on understanding how STEM curricula can be enhanced through place-based or contextualised learning. Areas of interest could include, but are not limited to:

• Teachers and how they can engage with local industry and communit organisations to enhance STEM learning;
• The use of STEM ambassadors drawn from local communities;
• Student attitudes to STEM learning in different contexts;
• Gender differences in STEM learning in different contexts;
• Community and industry role models for STEM learning;
• Theoretical frameworks for contextualised STEM education;
• Place-based STEM education;
• Student and teacher perceptions of relevance of STEM curricula.
• STEM education as experienced by minority groups


Keywords: STEM Education, Student engagement, Student motivation, place-based education, STEM curriculum


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

This article collection will focus on contributing to our understanding of how place-based, contextualized curricula can enhance student engagement in STEM during school. Curricula that draws on students’ local environments, creating a sense of purpose for their learning, has the potential to increase student interest in STEM subjects leading to greater engagement in learning of STEM concepts.

The growing importance of STEM skills for future careers is recognized across the world. At the same time, in some countries, there is a downturn in the numbers of students undertaking advanced mathematics and science courses in senior secondary school. Understanding how contextualized learning can act to promote student motivation and engagement with STEM in schools, could lead to greater student participation in STEM subjects in school, thereby increasing the pool of STEM skilled personnel within communities.

We know that some STEM subjects, particularly mathematics, can induce anxiety and fear in students, inhibiting their capacity to engage with and learn in these subjects. We also know that there are persistent gender differences, driven largely by differences in male and female levels of confidence, deeply embedded gender stereotypes about STEM careers, lack of female role models, teacher gender bias and irrelevant curricula. While there is some evidence that contextualised, relevant curricula can increase student interest and participation in STEM subjects in school, greater knowledge is required about mechanisms through which this process occurs.

This research topic will draw together empirical and theoretical research papers focussed on understanding how STEM curricula can be enhanced through place-based or contextualised learning. Areas of interest could include, but are not limited to:

• Teachers and how they can engage with local industry and communit organisations to enhance STEM learning;
• The use of STEM ambassadors drawn from local communities;
• Student attitudes to STEM learning in different contexts;
• Gender differences in STEM learning in different contexts;
• Community and industry role models for STEM learning;
• Theoretical frameworks for contextualised STEM education;
• Place-based STEM education;
• Student and teacher perceptions of relevance of STEM curricula.
• STEM education as experienced by minority groups


Keywords: STEM Education, Student engagement, Student motivation, place-based education, STEM curriculum


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

10 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

10 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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