Findings announced today by Samsung Electronics Australia and the University of Canberra’s (UC) STEM Education Research Centre (SERC) have revealed technology-enabled teaching methods that can improve students’ mathematics skills over a three-week period, equivalent to the level typically achieved in one year.
The Samsung-SERC Spatial Reasoning Research Program was established in December 2016 with Samsung supporting researchers from the SERC program as they investigated new practices in spatial-reasoning education and the use of new technologies.
The project inspired young students to use the latest technological devices to learn about spatial reasoning and STEM concepts.
A video of the entire presentation, along with three separate video interviews with Centenary Professor and Director of SERC, Thomas Lowrie, Samsung Australia Head of CSR, Tess Ariotti and three St Clare’s College students are embedded at the end of this article.
Because we were in Australia’s Federal Parliament House, there are occasional “buzzing” noises that can be heard at various parts of the video. These noises are designed to attract the attention of MPs and Senators, who are being recalled to parliament to vote on various issues.
During sitting times of Parliament, these buzzing sounds are unavoidable, so apologies that they appear at different times in the videos below. Thankfully the speakers can still be heard and understood.
Assistant Innovation Minister Craig Laundy stood in for Education Minister Senator Simon Birmingham, and gave his own great introductory presentation, as can be seen in the main video below.
However, Birmingham noted in a statement that the collaboration between Samsung and the University of Canberra highlighted how businesses and researchers could join forces to deliver real potential benefits for Australians.
He said: “The Turnbull Government is focused on ensuring all students have the support they need to succeed and we encourage contributions like this one from Samsung and the University of Canberra because they have the potential to give young Australians even more opportunities.
“I look forward to seeing the final outcomes of the programme and its research.”
The UC SERC and Samsung Australia findings “point to opportunities for the continued development of classroom STEM practices; combining practical activities and analytical thinking".
Tess Ariotti, head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Samsung Australia, said the findings hold significance not only for educators and policy makers but also for the wider community.
“As concern for Australia’s education standards continues to evolve, we’ve joined forces with the University of Canberra to start a conversation with the government and community around implementing tangible change across the national curriculum.
“STEM practices are increasingly vital to the workforce; building competence in STEM practices today can lead to future success for young Australians and a boost to our economy.
“By bringing together the best of Samsung digital technologies with proven creative design methods and world-leading science research, Samsung has gained a better understanding of training that can improve math performance and STEM education practices.”
University of Canberra Centenary Professor and director of SERC Thomas Lowrie said there was a firm need for research that bridges the gap between academic research and classroom practices.
“Competence in mathematics has been heralded by many of our peers as the most influential indicator for success in adult life. While high levels of competence are required for the most technically advanced jobs of the future, a broad foundation is essential for everyone’s overall wellbeing. There’s no doubt that attaining success in school mathematics will positively influence success in the workplace and life at large.
“This research has allowed us to open the door to opportunities for action-based educational experiences and greater collaboration with educators and the wider STEM industry,” Professor Lowrie said.
The research program involved two separate projects developed within the primary and secondary school environment, with the main video below seeing short presentations from both a primary school representative involved in the research with her students, and a secondary school representative similarly involved.
Primary School results
The primary school component incorporated a teaching and learning program with digital app integration, utilising Samsung technology, and the results are impressive.
The results pointed to an effect size of 0.5 which means students’ mathematics skills improved to the level typically achieved in one year, in just a few weeks. The intervention group increased their spatial reasoning score by 12 per cent while also recording an improvement in the mathematics test with an increase of 20 per cent.
As explained in the video presentation below, spatial reasoning is the capacity to locate, orientate, and visualise objects; decode information graphics; and use and draw diagrams.
Secondary School results
The secondary school component focused on student-led STEM enquiry projects whereby Samsung technology served as a data logger as well as a data analysis and storytelling tool (i.e. video).
The key outcomes saw an increase in design-process thinking and inquiry-based learning among the students; demonstrating good technology can enable significant, real-world STEM investigations.
The full research findings and analysis will be released as part of a full academic report in 2018.
Main video presentation, Samsung and Uni of Canberra’ STEM Education Research Centre findings at Parliament House:
Video Interview with Thomas Lowrie: University of Canberra Centenary Professor and Director of SERC:
Video Interview with St Clare's College students in Canberra, Aanaya Jha, Stana Fernandez and Erin Burke talking about their participation and results in Samsung and SERC’s STEM research program:
Tess Ariotti, head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Samsung Australia talks about the project:
A photo of the students, Laundy, Professor Lowrie, Tess Ariotti and other event participants.