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Developing Employability Attributes and Capabilities: Regular Use of Non-Routine Problem Solving in STEM Instruction

Thursday 4 July: Conference day two, 11:30am – 12:00pm parallel session



Room 9 – 3030-G23 MLT1



Dr Tanya Evans
The University of Auckland, New Zealand

Associate Professor Sergiy Klymchuk
The University of Auckland, New Zealand

Emeritus Mike Thomas
The University of Auckland, New Zealand



In this study, we investigated the impact of incorporation of non-routine problem solving into university STEM courses. The overarching aim was to seek ways to improve the employability prospects of tertiary graduates, since there is a scarcity of research about the phenomenon of transfer of learning in the case of non-routine problem solving. This research explored the impact of an intervention associated with improvement in self-efficacy expectations of learners in regard to their lateral thinking, creativity and ability to think “outside the box” – a construct we call lateral thinking self-efficacy. The study was conducted using a design research methodology, with the findings on completion of the first macro-cycle suggesting that the attitude profiles of students with high lateral thinking self-efficacy are significantly different from those with low lateral thinking self-efficacy with respect to their affective domain spanning the three dimensions: vision of non-routine problem solving; enhancement utility; and emotional disposition towards non-routine problem solving (χ2(7)=14.80, N=130, p<.05). Further, a significant difference between genders in regard to lateral thinking self-efficacy was observed, with the proportion of confident males being significantly greater than the proportion of confident females. This was despite there being no significant association between gender and non-routine problem solving performance. These results raise questions about the equity implications with regard to employability prospects for females in STEM companies.

The findings from our study inform higher education researchers and practitioners who can use the insights from our trail to design and implement an intervention with comparable aims to improve employability prospects of tertiary graduates in other pedagogical settings.\



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Presentation topic

Students – Future Graduates

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