STEM Strategies

Student Ambassadors and Equality in Higher Education

October 2014
More details
  • Publisher
    Trentham Books
  • Published
    15th October 2014
  • ISBN 9781858566177
  • Language English
  • Pages 200 pp.
  • Size 6.125" x 9.5"

More skilled young people are urgently needed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the UK.

This book indicates how policy can be developed to encourage young people to consider STEM careers. It challenges widely held assumptions about how role models help raise aspirations and support progression to Higher Education and asks whether role models really do encourage pupils, particularly girls, into STEM careers.

The research presented here examined New Labour’s widening participation policy of encouraging university student ambassadors to work as role models with younger students and school pupils. The study of STEM student ambassadors working in engineering and medicine at two contrasting universities reveals how ambassadors are positioned by the discourses and activities that surround them. It examines the developing relationships between pupils and ambassadors, the learning engendered in different learning contexts, and the matching of ethnic, classed and gendered identities.

The book questions the assumption that university students are role models for school pupils simply by virtue of their gender, ethnic and classed identities and their status as university students. But it also provides valuable insights into how encounters between pupils and university students can effectively support and encourage pupils in STEM subjects.

STEM Strategies is essential reading for policy makers and for school, FE and HE practitioners involved in outreach and interested in social justice. It is especially relevant to practitioners working with ambassadors in education and to people in industry working on STEM ambassador programs and will also interest those who are looking at diversity and access to HE and at identity formation. The multidisciplinary approach developed in the book makes a unique contribution to a developing body of evidence on how best to support the diversification of students in the STEM subject areas.

"Student ambassadors have been a central part of recent initiatives to inspire more young people to take up careers in science, engineering and the other STEM subjects, but there is surprisingly little research into the dynamics of pupil ambassador relationships. This book is based on detailed research into a number of student ambassador schemes and comes up with some unexpected insights about the learning that occurs. It is essential reading for anyone interested in promoting STEM among young people."

Professor Matthew Harrison, Director, Engineering and Education at the - , Royal Academy of Engineering

"This thoughtful and accessible book provides a much-needed critical approach to understanding the current, and potential, role of student ambassadors. A 'must read' for anyone working in the widening participation field."

Professor Louise Archer, Department of Education and Professional Studies - , King's College London

"This book makes an important contribution to debates about widening participation. By drawing on detailed empirical work in two higher education institutions, it presents fascinating evidence about the role of student ambassadors, and the impact they have on pupils' learning identities."

Professor Rachel Brooks, Department of Sociology - , University of Surrey

1. Widening participation and the landscape of policy and research
2. Widening participation and STEM: the cases of engineering and medicine
3. Student ambassadors and mentoring
4. Analysing policy and practice: a multi-stranded approach
5. Meanings of marketing
6. Learning practices and identities
7. Social relationships and identities
8. Assumptions, practices and potential

Clare Gartland

Clare Gartland is Senior Lecturer in Education at University Campus Suffolk.