The research focus of the Centre is teacher quality in STEM Education. The broad research needs for solving major developmental challenges of Nigeria specifically and the West Africa sub-region in general such as poverty, youth unemployment, food insecurity and ethnic/religious conflicts through training of quality STEM teachers are in four areas. These are:
- Need for greater deployment of science and technology for development: Why are students under-enrolling and underachieving in STEM especially girls and how can the trend be reversed? This will contribute to solving the developmental challenge of having low proportion of scientists that can harness STEM for national and sub-regional development. In the first four years of establishment of the Centre research focus shall be on meta-analysis of the rich literature on students’ under-enrolment and underachievement in science, especially girls. The milestones include pilot testing of models that are potent in reversing the trend. Lessons learned from the pilot run will lead to upscaling of the models nationwide and sub-regionwide after the initial four-year period.
- Need for a food secure nation and sub-region: How can the youth be attracted to agriculture so that the food security challenge can abate? In the first four years of establishment of the Centre research focus shall be on deepening studies on why the youth shun agriculture and explore best practices in reversing the trend. Milestones include national and sub-regional surveys and experimentation with models with potential to reverse the trend. During the fourth year, research will address STEM teacher education curricula and delivery process that can directly or indirectly contribute to improving food security in Nigeria and the West Africa sub-region.
- Need for gainful employment for the youth: What entrepreneurial and other educational practices can be implemented to lower youth unemployment rates? How can quality STEM education play a role? In the first four years of establishment of the Centre research focus shall be on developing good models of entrepreneurial education including curriculum and curriculum implementation issues. Research will be carried out on how STEM education especially technical and vocational education can best play a role in lowering youth unemployment.
- Need for peaceful coexistence and sustainable democracy: What form of STEM educational practices will best serve Nigeria and the sub-region in fostering a culture of peace and promotion of sustainable democracy? In the first four years of establishment of the Centre research focus shall be on ethnographic studies of violent extremism, religious and ethnic conflicts and how education of STEM teachers can play a role in mitigation. After the fourth year, collateral factors detected in the earlier studies will be explored in-depth and case studies of successful practices documented.
The Centre shall also vigorously pursue research on improved curricula, pedagogy, assessment and development of cutting-edge instruments and methodologies; quantitative and qualitative analysis of learning assessments; inclusive education (research needed on refugee education, girls’ education, disability education, religious education). Students in the Centre will be encouraged to undertake studies in specific areas earlier highlighted in fulfilment of the conditions for the award of their respective degrees. The specific research projects include bilingual/mother tongue education; approaches to early grade literacy and numeracy; student-centered teaching; ICT utilisation to improve teaching and learning; evaluation and assessment mechanisms; recruitment, retention and training of (STEM) teachers; approaches to inclusive education/educating children with disabilities; differentiated teaching; school-based management and community engagement.
Capacity of the centre to deliver the results in a timely manner: At least six staff of the Centre have led international research teams on science education for UNESCO and other global bodies. At least 12 have led or participated in national study teams which came up with widely-acclaimed reports. At least five staff of the Centre have won huge international research grants and 10 have been successful in having their proposals accepted for presentation at global STEM conferences through highly competitive process with acceptance rate averaging a mere 15%. On facilities, with improved resourcing when approved as a centre of excellence, the Centre will increase its staff strength and procure more facilities for delivering on its research mandate in a timely manner.
Partnership with international networks for research: Staff of the centre are leaders/members of international science education and educational management networks. Partnership with these networks will be harnessed to mutual advantage. Such networks to which staff of the Centre have long-standing relationship and partnership include the Global University Network for Innovation (GUNI)-Africa, the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (a global network), International Council of Association of Science Education (ICASE), African Quality Assurance Network (AfriQAN), Africa Association of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (AASIKS) and the CHEA International Quality Group (CIQG). The contribution of partners – industry, sectoral and academic – to developing and undertaking the research activities of the Centre is immense. They will nominate participants for our short-term courses and the participants will become better in the discharge of their responsibilities as trainers, policy makers and policy implementers.
Data collection, curation and maintenance: The Centre will maximally utilise technology and global best practices in data collection and maintenance. Having being part of international research teams for over 30 years, staff of the proposed centre have rich experience in data collection, curation and maintenance. This experience will be mobilised when the centre takes off. More importantly, steps will be taken to continually build human and institutional capacity in these areas. Data collection will be through appropriate instruments, which will involve both online surveys and other face-to-face techniques as found appropriate. All instruments will be validated, and reliability tested before administration. Data entry, storage and analysis will be guided by data regulations in the Centre. All quantitative data analysis will be conducted using IBM SPSS while qualitative data will be largely by ethnographic methods, content analysis and trend analysis as found appropriate. Beyond publication in peer-reviewed journals, research reports from the Centre will be shared with governments, policymakers and other stakeholders in the industry in periodic dissemination workshops.
Dissemination of research results: Research results of the Centre will be widely disseminated via a multiplicity of outlets and channels including scholarly journals, public media, social media and books.
Prospects for contract research: While Lagos State University and staff of the Centre have benefitted from contract research outsourced by other agencies, no policy current exists for issuing such contracts. Early in the life of the Centre, policies for contract research will be developed and worked through the statutory approval processes of the university. Appropriate clauses in the policy will separate the centre-wide research activities from contract research in terms of revenue distribution and ownership and guidelines for the dissemination of research findings.
The accomplishment of the research plan over the lifetime of the Centre will be pursued via two means – staff (academic) engagement in research studies within the study areas and students (Master’s and PhD) research. In terms on milestones and anticipated deliverables, on the one hand, staff, and together with students in the Centre will deliver seminar from time to time and attend conferences where research findings will be disseminated. This will commence within the first semester of the launch of the Centre. On the other hand, students (Master’s and PhD) will culminate into theses and dissertations as part of the requirements for the award of their respective degrees. This will start to come in after three semesters of launch of the Centre (for Master’s students) and after a minimum of three years (for PhD students). Research findings from the Centre will be published in reputable international, academic and peer-reviewed journals for global dissemination. Currently, the faculty has the capacity to commence the research activities of the Center. However, there will be need for improvement in terms of human resources (faculty expertise) and facilities.