STEM Enrichment Activities Did Not Improve Math or Science Scores Interview with:

Pallavi Amitava Banerjee, PhD Lecturer, Graduate School of Education University of Exeter

Dr. Banerjee

Pallavi Amitava Banerjee, PhD
Lecturer, Graduate School of Education
University of Exeter, UK What is the background for this study?

Response: Science technology engineering mathematics skills are highly valued in the UK as in most other developed countries of the world. Concerns were raised in the past by the Royal Society, Science Council and other learned societies and the UK Parliament about the insufficient number of young people wanting to take up these subjects beyond school. What then followed were a range of STEM enrichment and enhancement activities delivered at the local and national level. These activities were run to help young people appreciate science and math better to break the myth that these are only for the brainy. Students from secondary schools did hands-on practical activities, had STEM ambassador visits and several other events organized. What are the main findings?

Response: In a national evaluation I have looked at attainment data for schools in math and science, to see if schools enrolling their students from the beginning of key stage 3 to the end of key stage 4 did any better in GCSE science and math. I did not find any significant impact of participating in these activities on school attainment data.

I then evaluated the impact on pupil science and math GCSE attainment – which again showed those participating in these activities did not do any better than the rest.

The final evaluation was on continued post-16 STEM participation. Those engaging in these activities across secondary school did not necessarily consider studying STEM subjects when a choice had to be made. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: These activities do not seem to affect educational outcomes such as attainment and participation. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: While I appreciate the good cause these schemes are being run for – the national STEM agenda. It is difficult to estimate the direct impact of these activities on educational outcomes for schools and students as mentioned above. Their administration requires investment of time and resources.

There clearly is a need to evaluate what works. Perhaps it is important to identify if any of these schemes work better to be able to build on the best ones for the same or reduced amount of money. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Pallavi Amitava Banerjee. Does continued participation in STEM enrichment and enhancement activities affect school maths attainment? Oxford Review of Education, 2016; 1 DOI: 10.1080/03054985.2016.1235031

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Last Updated on December 17, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD