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Monash University & the University of Melbourne – SEAMS

Strengthening Engagement and Achievement in Mathematics and Science (SEAMS) is a partnership program between Monash University and the University of Melbourne that began in 2014. The program grew from a shared commitment to increasing the participation of low socioeconomic status (SES) and Indigenous students in science and maths-related degrees at university.

The universities collaborate to deliver a series of activities designed to improve students’ achievement in and engagement with maths and science, and help them explore related study and career options. The program’s aim is to deliver an academic and social program that has a long-term positive impact on young people’s educational outcomes in maths and science.

Partners:

  • Monash University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • John Monash Science School
  • Elizabeth Blackburn School of Sciences.

Objectives

SEAMS aims to strategically increase the participation and attainment of low SES and Indigenous students in STEM in higher education.

By enhancing the engagement and academic achievement of low SES and Indigenous students in senior secondary mathematics and science, SEAMS facilitates increased access to a range of university courses in the STEM areas.

The program meets the following Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP) objectives:

  • assist in improving the understanding and awareness of higher education as a viable post-school option
  • assist in achievement at school, to enable consideration for access to higher education
  • support students in linking with higher education providers.

Activities and Progress

SEAMS focuses on improving Year 11 and 12 students’ knowledge and skills in mathematic methods, chemistry and physics. Three-day camps are held in January and July, with one year level attending at Monash and the other year level at the University of Melbourne. The groups swap locations for the second camp, ensuring each student experiences both universities. Academic sessions are run by leading teachers who provide insight into key concepts the students will learn during their Victorian Certificate of Education studies. The activities are designed to strengthen students’ conceptual understanding of mathematics and science, and increase their fluency and resilience as learners through increasing levels of challenge.

The key benefit is introducing students to concepts in advance of classroom experiences, allowing them to focus more effectively on what will help them learn. This increases students’ confidence and skill through preparing them for learning experiences, rather than using a deficiency model (involving revision or remediation).

During term time, students have access to SEAMS resources, activities and networking through an online learning platform. The program creates a cohort of motivated learners who may otherwise be isolated in their mathematics and science study, and uses peer and university student mentors to assist students’ learning.

Outcomes

From 2014–17, 314 students graduated from the SEAMS program, of which 275 students were contactable. Of those, 269 (98 per cent) received a university offer.

Of the contactable students:

  • 38 per cent are studying at Monash University and 21.6 per cent at the University of Melbourne
  • 89.7 per cent are studying in STEM-related fields
  • 30 per cent received an ATAR of 90+, 28 per cent 80–89.9 and 21 per cent 70–79.9.

Sustainable Impacts

The SEAMS program was fully HEPPP funded until December 2016. Due to the demonstrated success of the program, Monash University and the University of Melbourne have committed funding until December 2018.

In 2017 the program introduced a SEAMS e-mentoring program for Year 12 students. Students have the opportunity to be paired with a university student mentor to work in a one-on-one mentoring relationship throughout Year 12.

The SEAMS program is also working in partnership with the John Monash Science School to develop an online program that can be accessed through the Emerging Sciences Victoria program into the future.


This case study was one of 35 featured in the NCSEHE’s 2017 publication Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program: Seven Years On.

Posted 12 June 2018 Posted in General, Indigenous