The STEAM-Active (Project Number: 2021-1-ES01-KA220-HED-000032107) project is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

Modelling relationships among students’ inquiry-related learning activities, enjoyment of learning, and their intended choice of a future STEM career

Partners' Institution
Kaunas University of Technology
Year of publication
Educational stage
Secondary Level
Journal name
International Journal of Science Education
Thematic Area
STEAM intervention (teaching strategies, evaluation...)
Different approaches of teaching STEM in Taiwan and Australia are compared in this paper. The authors discuss differences between high and low scientific competency students’ perceptions about learning activities and their enjoyment of learning science in both countries. The representative data from international assessment data of 15-year-old students’ reading, mathematics, and science literacy for Taiwan and Australia was examined. The analysis indicated that more inquiry-related activities were exercised in Australia than in Taiwan. The authors explain this by cultural differences and teaching traditions. They also state that the inquiry-related activities play an important role in students’ enjoyment of learning process. The analysis showed that high scientific competence students tend to choose their future career in STEM in both countries.
Relevance for Complex Systems Knowledge
STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) skills are necessary in technology related jobs that are increasing in current economy. Moreover, there is also a demand of other competences, such as inquiry competency, critical thinking, solving multidisciplinary problems, creativity. The universal approach for inquiry-based activities consists of four main activities, such as posing questions, designing experiments, collecting data, drawing conclusions. Although these activities are expected to improve students’ understanding of science concepts and real-life problems, their implementation in learning environment require more time and teachers’ experience and preparation. The research presented in this article is focused on how 15-year-old students’ inquiry-based activities are related to their enjoyment of learning science and plans to have a career in STEM. It uses data subsets of Taiwan and Australia from Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). There were two main questions addressed in the paper: (1) What are the differences between high and low scientific competency students’ perceptions about the frequency of inquiry-related learning activities? (2) What is the relationship between high and low scientific competency students’ perceptions about the frequency of inquiry-related activities and their enjoyment of learning science and intended choice of a future STEM career?
Although both countries use inquiry-based learning for STEM courses and have similar results in PISA 2015, due to cultural differences and primary philosophy of teaching approaches, the percentage of students who were asked to draw conclusions from the experiments was more than 4 times higher for the Australian students. Moreover, the highly competitive learning environment in Taiwan results in the lower engagement to inquiry-based activities for the students with high scientific competences because such activities are more time consuming than learning conventional cognitive knowledge. The data analysis showed that activity of “teachers and students explaining ideas” is related to students’ enjoyment of learning activities for Australian students and high scientific competence students from Taiwan. As this activity requires higher order thinking skills and deep understanding of scientific knowledge, it may require teachers’ guidance for low scientific competence students.
The paper does not directly consider students’ diversity in STEM courses, specific difficulties, or sustainability. However, the authors discuss the impact of educational context (Confucianism-based and Western) to students’ enjoyment of learning activities, students’ focus to the process or the product, intentions to choose the career path.
Point of Strength
The authors declare the importance of students investigating the everyday world which is the key element of the inquiry learning process. They also state that such teaching approach results in higher students’ enjoyment of the learning process and higher tendency to choose career in STEM or develop skills necessary for literacy in STEM.
Enjoyment; high- and low-science achieving students; inquiry activities; PISA 2015; STEM career choices