NPP Projects

National Indigenous Science Education Program – Building Evidence for Effective Implementation into higher Education

Lead University: Macquarie University

Lead Researcher: Joanne Jamie

Research Team: Joanne Jamie, Ian Jamie, Subramanyam Vemulpad, Sonal Singh, Emma Barnes, Bronwen Wade-Leeuwen and John Hunter

Year Funded: 2014

Funding Received: $171,000


This project evaluated the National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP) as a tool to engage students from low SES regions, especially Indigenous youth, and support them in completing secondary education and transitioning to tertiary education. Evaluation data informed the implementation of changes to NISEP’s structure and refinement of program funding allocation; and enabled project managers to effectively market NISEP to new university partners.

Project outline

  • The project objectives were to evaluate and assess the National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP) to:
    • identify and document essential features that allow it to enhance higher education access and the participation of low socioeconomic status (SES) students
    • develop an engagement and evaluation framework of guidelines for effective and sustainable incorporation into higher education outreach programs.
  • Key elements:
    • Re-design, development and implementation of evaluation questions. The original survey questions, first implemented in 2007, were assessed, updated and new forms implemented. Successive rounds of interview and focus groups were developed and implemented with secondary students; school staff; Indigenous elders and community members; and parents and carers.
    • Three case studies were completed and evaluated:
      • Community Driven Program — analyses of the evaluation data identified the role and importance of community involvement in increasing the impact of NISEP on its target beneficiaries.
      • Another case study, School Driven Program — analyses of the evaluation data identified the importance of the direct involvement of partner schools in guiding NISEP’s direction and activities for the highest impact on its target beneficiaries.
      • Comparative Stakeholder Challenges — evaluation data identified the comparative challenges faced by NISEP stakeholders in implementing activities.

Key findings

  • The evaluation data collected resulted in changes being implemented at all levels of NISEP’s structure, from the improvement of process documents and resources to the building of an overall strategy working towards a stronger governance structure and quality control procedures.
  • The identification of NISEP’s core elements with most impact on its target beneficiaries has allowed for a streamlined approach to ensuring program funding is used to channel students through NISEP’s School Science Shows to its Sydney based events. These include the Indigenous Science Experience and Conoco Phillips School Macquarie Science Experience.
  • The improved paper-based surveys and focus group sessions will be implemented on an ongoing basis so as to continue to build on the program.
  • Evaluation data collected through the project has allowed the project managers to market NISEP to new university partners and build flexible strategies for working with groups with different needs and challenges. Over 2017 and 2018, the project managers expanded their partnerships to two further Charles Sturt University campuses, and Queensland University. There are also four other universities, including located in regional New South Wales and Victoria, looking to become NISEP partners.

Summary prepared by the NCSEHE.

Posted 9 October 2018