Evaluation of Glasgow Science Centre J.P. Morgan Foundation Initiative - STEM Futures

The Glasgow Science Centre (GSC) STEM Futures programme funded by the J.P. Morgan Foundation aims to promote science capital and encourage and facilitate more young people to enter Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) related careers. It has a particular focus on young people from disadvantaged communities. The programme adopts a number of articulated tiers or strands that aim to engage young people in STEM and facilitate pathways for those who wish to pursue STEM career options. These are:

Stage 1 – Inspire. STEM career workshops for 13–14-year-olds (30 to 40 workshops each year, involving 1200 pupils from 95 schools);

Stage 2 – Connect: Work readiness workshops for 15- and 16-year-old pupils (40 workshops being held each year, involving 1200 pupils from 95 schools);

Stage 3 – Experience: One week work experience with a STEM related GSC partner employer, for a cohort of 200 young people; and

Stage 4 – Work Based Learning: 100 STEM related Foundation Apprenticeships for young people provided over three years.

In addition to the pupil-focused programme, the STEM Futures initiative also involves career events for parents and carers, Inspire & Challenge training for teachers and Curiosity Live Events for Career Advisors that focus on specific sectors and jobs and feature inputs and demonstrations from STEM and industry professionals.

The core of the project initially focused on working with secondary schools in Glasgow and other West of Scotland local authorities, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the move to use on-line approaches for delivery of the programme means it has been possible to include learners from across Scotland. Selected partner schools have catchment areas with higher levels of deprivation.

A team from the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change (ROC) has been commissioned by GSC to evaluate the programme. In addition to identifying the level of engagement of learners and teachers with the programme, the evaluation will explore:

  • The extent to which the programme increases young people’s awareness of STEM careers and the skills required, promotes their interest in pursuing STEM careers, increases their engagement with science.
  • How the programme articulates with the curriculum and careers guidance
  • The views and experiences of employers, teachers and careers personnel regarding impact of the programme.
  • What impact does the programme have on parents/carers’ views of STEM and related careers?
  • What impact does the programme have on teachers’ ability to support pupils’ STEM learning and careers advisors’ awareness of STEM opportunities/pathways?
  • To what extent does the programme enhance the GSC’s network of partner organisations and employers?

The evaluation adopts a multi-method approach, involving surveys where appropriate but the major emphasis is on qualitative methods, including interviews, focus groups and observation. The research design has been co-constructed with GSC colleagues and their partners. The design is also adaptable to reflect the impact COVID-19 has had on proposed methods and any changes to the programme that GSC makes as a result of the pandemic. For example, use of online interviews and focus groups rather than face-to-face meetings during lockdowns. The evaluation design also allows cohorts of young people from up to eight schools involved to be followed-up as they progress through the various strands and pathways. This will provide detailed narratives of young people’s experiences, choices and outcomes, highlighting processes as well as impact.

PI and Co-Is

PI - Kevin Lowden - University of Glasgow, School of Education

Co-I - Stuart Hall - University of Glasgow, School of Education

Deja Lusk

Start and End date

November 2020 – December 2022

Funder and Funding amount

Glasgow Science Centre