Applying STEM Pedagogies | Teaching STEM in Southeast Asia – Part 1

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In the first of our three-part series on Teaching STEM in Southeast Asia, we welcome three distinguished educators from across the region in a discussion on Applying STEM Pedagogies..

Series moderator Dr Frederick Talaue, Associate Professor at the Department of Science Education, De La Salle University prefaced the discussion with three key questions on teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in schools: 1. Why are we interested in STEM pedagogies? 2. Why and how do we integrate STEM into the various disciplines and curriculum? And 3. What are the aims of a STEM education in the 21st century?

Our speakers first touched on the nature of STEM education as an interdisciplinary topic that focuses not just on technical content, but on 21st century skills and its relevance to real-world issues. Mr Leo Crisologo, Mathematics teacher from the Philippine Science High School – Main Campus, explained how he used the Engineering Design process to influence remote learning mathematics pedagogy. Dr Ariel Babierra, Associate Professor of Mathematics at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Physics, University of the Philippines Los Baños, similarly used mathematical modelling to solve problems creatively and critically in his class, enhancing students’ soft skills. Mr David Chak, co-founder of Arus Academy in Malaysia, embeds problem-based learning in STEM lessons to help students translate science and mathematics concepts to tangible solutions and develop critical thinking skills.

Assessing for STEM components in classrooms can be tricky for teachers who are used to grading for technical skills only, or for one discipline. Dr Ariel touched on the importance of allowing for creativity in final STEM assessments, allocating sections of your grading rubric to components such as communication, originality, and correct formatting. Leo similarly integrated STEM skill components in his assessment rubric, encouraging his students to use graphic design tools to create a final report that exemplifies their science communication skills. In this process, his students were also exposed to various mathematical tools and concepts that went beyond the syllabus, while incorporating creativity and aesthetics in their project.

Going beyond teaching subject-based competencies, our speakers also highlighted how STEM education can nurture well-rounded citizens. Arus Academy’s free online Global Citizenship Education project serves as a platform for teachers and students to learn and apply STEM through the lens of contemporary social issues and ethics. Dr Ariel’s General Education course titled Mathematics, Culture and Society imparts a broader appreciation of mathematics as present in art and everyday life.

…communicating with faculty outside of the mathematics department was essential in integrating a humanities perspective into a usually technical course

Finally, our panellists touched on how communication and collaboration with other teachers and departments are important in designing and integrating STEM activities in class. Dr Ariel shared how communicating with faculty outside of the mathematics department was essential in integrating a humanities perspective into a usually technical course, and recommended reading books outside of the traditional disciplinary canon. Leo emphasised how it is important for school administrators to understand and support STEM integration efforts, to make STEM activities sustainable in the classroom. David elaborated on the importance of building up teachers’ capacities to teach STEM, and a fast and effective way is to encourage STEM communities of practice where teachers share ideas and resources.

Watch all sessions from this Making HEADway webinar series, Teaching STEM in Southeast Asia.

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Mr Ho Swee Huat

Mr Ho Swee Huat is the Founder and Managing Director of Abacus Assets Advisors Pte Ltd. Before starting the company, he had an established career in the banking industry, with 20 years of experience in Singapore, Hong Kong and New York.

He was an Independent Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of CapitaCommercial Trust Management LTD from 2004 to 2013.

He is the current Chairman of Autism Association (Singapore) which he co-founded with a group of parents in 1992. He is also Vice-Chairman of Eden School, a special school for children with autism.

Mr Ho holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Liberal Arts degree in Economics from Hamilton College, USA.

He has been a member of the Board of the Foundation since its incorporation.