Steve Murphy

Proposed Title

Practices contributing to school STEM success in rural Victorian secondary schools


In the 21st century STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is vital for securing our personal, social, environmental and economic futures.  However, Australian secondary school enrolments in senior STEM subjects are decreasing, and our students' performance relative to other students internationally is sliding. This situation is even direr in rural Australia, with non-metropolitan students' progress in mathematics and science anywhere from 6 to 18 months behind that of their urban counterparts.  This is a cause for significant concern given our reliance on our rural populations for our food security, water sources, power supply, resource industries and conservation of environments.
Australian governments at federal and state level have developed strategies aiming to improve student engagement, ambition and achievement in STEM, drawing on the best available research evidence.  However, it is acknowledged that evidence around STEM education practices in Australian contexts is limited (Education Council, 2015).  This project aims to address this weakness in the knowledge base.  It will develop a new approach to systematically identify sites of secondary school STEM success by using data routinely collected in Victoria.  Having identified the relatively high STEM performing schools, the project will carry out a multi-case study of rural Victorian schools to identify practices that contribute to school STEM success.

Why I chose CSU

I've spent quarter of century as a rural STEM teacher, and a good portion of that in leadership.  I believe a strong STEM education is vital for every child and that our rural kids need not be disadvantaged by to their geography.  These experience and passions have led me to want to pursue this project.  CSU, with its rural emphasis and academics with strong STEM pedigrees, seemed the obvious place to complete my PhD.


DTAC – Digital Technology Advisory Committee (Wangaratta)


Murphy, S. (2013). A case study of evidence based instructional leadership: Cultivating a learning community through a focus on feedback. Australian Educational Leader, 35(3), 8-12.

Gregory, J., Murphy, S., Cram, C., Simondson, N., Varjer, L., Bootes, M. & Egan, S. (2009.) Case study of the implementation of the Common Curriculum in the Hume Region. Melbourne: Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

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