The Australian | 14 December 2012
Engineering faculties were singled out for special disfavour according to the Interests and Recruitment in Science study, conducted in late 2011 for chief scientist Ian Chubb.
The report showed only 56% of 3500 respondents thought their lecturers “actually cared’ whether or not their students learned. Less than half received personal feedback from them and tutors and for students at Group of Eight universities the figure was less than 40%.
Students from 30 Australian universities took part in the study which had a particular focus on how young women fared in physics, information technology and engineering.
However, 82% said their universities offered good working conditions, 78% had become more interested in the subject since they started, 90% found course content at least as interesting as they expected and 40% rated it better than expected. Study leader Terry Lyons of the University of New England observes:
They were quite pleased with the universities, the working conditions and facilities, but when it came to the personal interaction and engagement with the teachers that was the area where they were the most critical.
The report recommended providing outreach programs about STEM fields to high school girls from year nine onwards, an online advice service regarding STEM careers for use by students, parents and careers advisors and that teachers appreciate they have “a greater impact than they imagine” on students’ decisions.