Challenges to establishing school-scientist partnerships in the 21st century: case studies from New Zealand

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


Following U.S government initiatives in the mid 1980s to encourage business engagement with schools as a means of promoting improvements in curriculum and teaching, various programmes worldwide have attempted to develop models where science organisations and scientists have partnered with schools in project‐based learning experiences. These have become known as school‐scientist partnerships or SSPs. Literature suggests that successful SSPs are collaborative in nature, share common goals and responsibilities, position partners as equals in projects of common interest, and engage in science inquires of authenticity and mutual relevance (eg., Caton, Brewer & Brown, 2000; Pelaez & Gonzalez, 2002; Tinker, 1997).This paper presents and discusses findings from two school‐scientist partnerships between a New Zealand science research institute and two primary (Year 1‐6) schools. Unlike other studies on SSPs it is not outcome‐focused, but rather evaluates the processes involved in establishing the partnerships, using Grobe, Curnan and Melchior’s (1993) typology of business‐education partnerships as an analytical lens. Results indicate that forming successful partnerships aligned with the above principles in today’s challenging economic climate is highly problematic, and that revision of the concept of partnerships and how they are established is needed, if they are to continue to be a viable means of enhancing science teaching and learning in the 21stCentury. This paper uses findings from these partnership studies to suggest areas where such a revision is needed, and identify where attention needs to be paid to ensure partnerships are successful.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConference Proceedings : International Conference
Subtitle of host publicationInnovative Research in a Changing and Challenging World
EditorsSi Fan, Thao Le, Quynh Le, Yun Yue
Place of PublicationTasmania, Australia
PublisherAustralian Multicultural Interaction Institute
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780646582689
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference: Innovative research in a changing and challenging world - Phuket, Thailand
Duration: 16 May 201218 May 2012


ConferenceInternational Conference
Abbreviated titleAUAMII2012


  • science
  • scientists
  • partnership
  • inquiry
  • collaboration
  • curriculum
  • teaching
  • learning

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