Learning to teach STEM disciplines in higher education: a critical review of the literature

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Enrolments in STEM disciplines at universities are increasing globally, attributed to the greater life opportunities open to students as a result of a STEM education. But while institutional access to STEM programmes is widening, the retention and success of STEM undergraduate students remains a challenge. Pedagogies that support student success are well known; what we know less about is how university teachers acquire pedagogical competence. This is the focus of this critical review of the literature that offers a theorised critique of educational development in STEM contexts. We studied the research literature with a view to uncovering the principles that inform professional development in STEM disciplines and fields. The key finding of this critical review is how little focus there is on the STEM disciplines. The majority of studies reviewed did not address the key issue of what makes the STEM disciplines difficult to learn and challenging to teach.


External organisations
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • University of the Western Cape
  • University of Cape Town
  • Stellenbosch University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Educational Sciences


  • academic development, engineering and mathematics (STEM), pedagogical competence, professional development, Science, technology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)930-947
Number of pages18
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Issue number8
Early online date2018 Sep 4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch