Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Why is it so hard to recruit good maths and science teachers?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

There are well-recognised problems with student participation and achievement in maths and science. Widespread shortages of suitable secondary maths and science teachers and low levels of students studying these subjects at secondary and tertiary levels are not just problems faced by Australia, but have become international issues.

A number of interrelated factors that form a self-perpetuating cycle contribute to this situation.

Lack of confidence

Many primary teachers report a lack of competence and confidence in teaching maths and science, not having taken the higher levels of these subjects in senior secondary school or in some cases not having studied maths and/or science at senior level.

Negative mindsets

Primary students can develop negative attitudes and mindsets about their ability in these subjects. Early experiences of struggle or “failure”, especially in maths, can powerfully predict and constrain future engagement and achievement and act as a barrier to learning. Students can see their ability and indeed their identity as fixed.

Australian primary students perform relatively more poorly than their secondary...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.