Skip to main content

STEM Education

The STEM Education research group is a multidisciplinary group of educators with strong research and development established in the field.

The group is a focal point for collaborative work in STEM education, with cross-group activities and initiatives, and is intended to create synergy and instigate and support individual, small group and wider collaborative projects. Our research and educational enquiry is largely practice-based and aims to inform debates on STEM education and professional learning, and contribute to programmes of excellent teaching in both formal and informal educational settings.


Dr Sarmin Hossain Dr Sarmin Hossain
Senior Lecturer in Education
Sarmin Hossain is the MA Education (including all Routes) Programme Leader. She is also the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Specialist Pathway Leader. Sarmin Hossain joined Brunel University’s Department of Education in January 2011 as Lecturer in ICT in Education. In August 2011 she became the PGCE ICT and Computing Secondary Course Coordinator, responsible for leading and managing the overall Computing and ICT Course. Sarmin was appointed Secondary Co-Course leader from 2014-2015, making significant contributions to the OfSTED inspections held 2015. In 2016, Sarmin was appointed MA Programme leader with responsibilties both at strategic and operational levels. She led the re-design and re-validation of the MA programme, and the implemenation of the new provison, which is the now current MA Education (incl. all Routes) programme attracting both national and international audiences. She holds a BSc (Hons) Mathematical Science Degree from City University, London, UK; PGCE in Mathematics Secondary from the Institute of Education, London, UK; MSc in Information Systems, and a PhD in Information Systems from Brunel University, UK. Sarmin is a Fellow of Advance Higher Education (previously HIgher Education Academy). She began her academic career as a Research Associate in Mathematics Education in the Department of Education and Professional Studies, Kings College London. Her research works extended to include Engineering Education within the same department. Sarmin’s academic background and work experiences have enabled her to develop and further her research interests in three of the STEM areas: Technoloy (Information Communications Technology (ICT)/Computing), Engineering and Mathematics. Sarmin's doctoral work focused on simulation modelling and educational software. Thereafter she worked on mathematics/engineering education projects, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and Royal Academy of Engineering. She is currently Co-Investigator with colleagues at Brunel on a large-scale European project “Mentoring for School Improvement (MenSI) project” which involves the European Schoolnet (EUN) and work with six of its supporting 33 Ministries of Education to carry out a pan-European investigation into how different approaches to mentoring can support the mainstreaming of innovative ICT-based teaching practices in primary and secondary schools. Sarmin contributes to the wider community through her following roles: As Governor to a University Technical College, she draws on her Engineering and teacher education expertise to advise the College and its Governing body. As Child Exploitation Online Protection (CEOP) Ambassador, she provides e-safety training sessions on the Brunel PGCE programme. Since 2013, Sarmin has trained over 400 plus trainee-teachers meeting OfSTED/DfE online safeguarding requirements. Sarmin is passionate about STEM, and is also interested in areas such as equitable access to STEM education and careers; social mobilty; adoption and take-up of digital technologies and computing; Mathematics education; pedagogies; STEM policy and reform; STEM for sustainable education. Sarmin’s research interests lie mainly in the following areas: 1) Learning technologies and adoption of technologies in education, computing, with a particular focus on tools for modelling and simulating such adoption contexts 2) Mathematics and Mathematics Teacher Education – with a focus on ‘understanding mathematics in depth’ 3) Engineering Education – with a focus on the uptake of engineering initiatives and progarmmes in school education and its impact on students’ engineering study/career choices. Further details of these interests and how they have been explored so far, details of relevant funding bodies, co-researchers/collaborators (both national and international) involved and publications/reports which have resulted from such works are as follows: 1) Learning technologies, adoption of technologies in education, modelling and simulation tools Sarmin’s doctoral research resulted in the construction of a Fuzzy Cognitive Map (FCM) model of ICT adoption in schools. The model was constructed in the mathematical programming language Matlab®. Her thesis is titled “Modelling Educational Software adoption in schools”. Her previous research in the area includes: Identifying and analyzing roles of stakeholders in the school educational domain. Identifying issues surrounding the problematic adoption of educational ICTs and conducting empirical studies, this resulted in her Masters Dissertation. 2. Exploration of applications of machine learning in simulation research for project titled ‘Machine Learning in Simulation Research: Methodology and Applications’. Her research subsequently focused on FCM and Simulation Modelling as tools for use within the Information Systems (IS) domain. This resulted in a report on the exploitation of FCMs in IS which was submitted to the Brunel Research Initiative and Enterprise Fund award. Sarmin is interested in extending her doctorate work to exploring and modelling digital technologies in the mathematics classrooms and exploring the integration of ICT across other curriculum subjects. Sarmin is currently Co-Investigator with colleagues at Brunel on a large-scale European project “Mentoring for School Improvement (MenSI) project” which involves the European Schoolnet (EUN) and work with six of its supporting 33 Ministries of Education to carry out a pan-European investigation into how different approaches to mentoring can support the mainstreaming of innovative ICT-based teaching practices in primary and secondary schools. 2) Mathematics and Mathematics Teacher Education Sarmin has worked on the QUANTUM-UK project, led by Professor Jill Adler (Kings College London and University of Witswatersrand). This scoping study was funded by Kings College London. The study extended from a project in mathematics teacher education in South Africa looking at the qualifications for teachers under-qualified in mathematics. The scoping study explored the UK context and found some similarity between programmes in South Africa (SA) and UK’s Mathematics Enhancement Courses (MEC). This led the research team to investigate the MEC as an alternative route into teaching and through this explore ‘Mathematics Knowledge for Teaching’ with a focus on Understanding Mathematics in Depth. The research team included collaborators from Liverpool Hope, Manchester University and University of East London.The works have resulted in various conference presentations and journal publications. Sarmin has worked on a scoping study funded by the Nuffield Foundation, led by Professor Mike Askew and Dr Jeremy Hodgen (Kings College London). The scoping project identified and provided an overview of research in countries with high mathematics attainment. This resulted in a report titled Values and Variables: Mathematics Education in High-Performing Countries which was submitted to the Nuffield Foundation and is available online. 3) Engineering Education Sarmin has worked on a systematic review titled Systematic Review of Education for Engineering and Interventions for Engineering Education within STEM-related Developments in the UK, led by Professor Peter Kutnick (Hong Kong University) and Dr David Good (University of Cambridge). The review was funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering. It was concerned with examining studies which have evaluated existing/previous engineering education interventions; to systematically identify the qualities and outcomes of these initiatives (which promote engineering formally and informally among school-aged children); to identify a range of pedagogies used within engineering (educational) interventions. The report was submited to the Royal Academy of Engineering and resulted in conference paper/presentation. Sarmin has also been involved in the study/project titled A cross-sectional study of effects on perceptions and actions towards engineering education as a result of interventions within LEP schools. The other proposers of this study include Dr David Good (University of Cambridge), Professor Peter Kutnick (Hong Kong University) and Heather Hawthorne (Royal Academy of Engineering). The study was funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering. This was a tracking/cross-sectional study focusing on the number and type of engineering activities that have taken place in particular schools as part of the London Engineering Project. This study is concerned with exploring the extent of particular pupil involvement (as opposed to general number attending events) with these engineering initiatives; impact on pupils with regard to their age and involvement; teacher and staff views of particular aspects of the programme with regard to pedagogy and materials; identification of which parents have been involved; and relationships to technical/higher education career aspiration/choice. Research group(s) STEM Education (STEME) Teaching Activities MA Education (Sarmin's core teaching activities are currently in the MA programme. She is the STEM Pathway lead and leader for the Assessment Blocks ED5804, ED5808, ED5812 and ED5816. In the past she has led modules ED5609 Issues in STEM and ED5611 Towards Effectiveness in STEM. She supervises MA Dissertations) PGCE Secondary and Primary (Sarmin's prior teaching activities were in the PGCE programme. She has led modules ED55019_Computing/ICT, ED55020_Computing/ICT and ED55021_Computing/ICT). She contributes to the GPE programme providing the E-Safety sessions. BA Education (Sarmin supervises BA Dissertations) Doctoral Research programmes (Sarmin supervises PhD and EdDoc students. And contributes to Doctoral programme in terms of delivering sessions on qualitative/quantitave data)


Professor Mike Watts Professor Mike Watts
Professor - Education
Interview with Professor Mike Watts, Professor of Education at Brunel University, London Read about Mike's research work in Portugal. Mike Watts’s new books for 2018: 1. Early Years Science Education: a contemporary look (with Alsion Silby) explores the major issues all early years teachers encounter in their daily professional lives. Find out more by visiting Published by Routledge, October 2018; 2. Interviewing in Educational Research (with Janet Powney) is a re-release of an established text on this important element of qualitative educational research, also published by Routledge, October 2018. I have carried out major studies of classroom interactions often, but not always, concerning the learning of science. My recent work has looked at the public understanding of science, the manner in which feelings and emotions shape science learning, and modes in which classroom technologies can be used to enhance learning processes. In 2003 I was awarded a Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellowship for excellence in teaching, and I used the award to further research and scholarship into learners' questions and questioning. In 2004 I was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. I have undertaken consultancy work for universities in Brazil, been part of a World Bank Rapid Response team within Latin America, and a review team for teacher education in Lithuania. I am just completing a decade-long collaboartive study with colleagues at University of Aveiro, Portugal, on teaching and learning in higher education. I have been a consultant to the Teaching Council of Ireland and external examiner for the National University of Ireland, and am currently editor of the Mauritius Institute of Education's Journal of Education, and an examiner for the University of Technology Mauritius. First in the Family Project This project has explored the learning of students who are ‘first-in-their-family’ at Brunel University. We have talked to students of different ages, ethnicity, learner biographies and personal background. Three videos of their experiences can be seen here: Interview with Poonam Bhatoa - Why Brunel? Interview with Olufemi Oluwasanya - Why Brunel? Interview with Elizabeth Allen - Why Brunel? Journal citations British Educational Research Journal Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Chemistry Education: Research and Practice in Europe Early Child Development and Care Education in Science Educational Psychology Educational Research and Evaluation Education and Training International Journal of Children’s Spirituality International Journal of E-Literacy International Journal of Science Education Journal of Computer Assisted Learning Journal of Curriculum Studies Journal of Educational Television Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Papers in STSE Education Oxford Review of Education Physics Education Research in Education Research in Science and Technology Education School Science Review Science Education The Curriculum Journal Career History After studying phyics and maths, Mike qualified as a teacher at Doncaster College of Education and then taught physics and science in Hackney, London and in Kingston, Jamaica before entering educational research at University of Surrey. There, he led a project investigating young people’s understanding of physics. He left Surrey having helped establish a successful project and having completed his doctorate, to join the Schools Council’s Secondary Science Curriculum Review as Project Officer. Mike then joined Roehampton University London as lecturer and, in the following years moved to Senior Lecturer, Reader, Professor, Dean of School, Roehampton Federal Professor and then Principal of Froebel College. Mike has carried out major studies of classroom interactions often, but not always, concerning the learning of science. His recent work has looked at ways in which learner’s own questions can be used as a basis for inquiry-based learning and teaching, the ways in which feelings and emotions shape learning, ways in which classroom technologies can be used to enhance learning processes, what it means to have 'science identity', the public understanding of science, and ways to develop teaching and learning in higher education. In 2003 he was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship for his excellence in teaching, and used the award to further research and learners' questions and questioning. In 2004 he was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. He has been visiting professor and examiner at many universities nationally and internationally, most recently at University of Aveiro in Portugal, University College Cork, Kings College London and the National Universities of Ireland. He has been consultant on many aspects of education in numerous countries. Mike has published widely in his field of science education through his books, journal articles and many conference papers. He has been on the editorial board of the International Journal of Science Education, Research in Science and Technology Education, Research in Education and Early Child Development and Care. He is keen to teach and contributes to programmes at post-graduate, masters and doctoral level within the Department of Education at Brazil. He is the author of fifteen books, principally about science education, with more to follow in 2018 and 2019! He currently has twelve PhD students at various stages of their work. Learners' questions and questioning; teaching and learning in higher education; informal science education and public understanding of science; technology enhanced learning and learning; pedagogies and transgression I teach within several programmes: BA Education, MA Education, Post-graduate research methods, and supervise an excellent cohort of doctoral students
Dr Gwen Ineson Dr Gwen Ineson
Deputy Head of Department /Divisional Lead/Reader - Primary Education
I joined Brunel University in 2005 from a background in primary education. I gained a BA degree in Education (Mathematics) at Warwick University, an MA in Education at the University of London’s Institute of Education and a Doctorate in Education at Brunel University. I taught in primary schools in North London for ten years before joining Brunel where I am currently responsible for the mathematics programme on the primary PGCE course. This provides me with an opportunity to combine my teaching and research interests of mathematics subject knowledge of primary teachers. I am a Professional Development Accredited Lead for the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics (NCETM) and involved in delivering mathematics CPD for schools. Since joining Brunel I have had a range of responsibilities, including primary PGCE co-programme leader and Director of Postgraduate Research for five years, and I am currently Deputy Head of the Education Department. My main research interest is in the mathematical subject knowledge of primary school teachers. My doctoral work used design-based research to design an intervention programme to help student teachers develop the mental mathematics they need for teaching and the findings of this study has informed much of my teaching. A recent project I worked on explored what student teachers make of video material that is used in their training. A project that I'm currently involved in is looking at different types of reasoning that student teachers engage in how this knowledge and understanding can be deveIoped to support their teaching in this area. I am also interested in children’s mathematical work and in particular, how they develop number sense. Research group(s) STEM Education (STEME) Conferences 2018 Primary pre-service teachers: reasoning and generalisation. British Congress of Mathematics Education. Warwick University, UK. April 2018 2017 Pre-service primary teachers' approaches to mathematical generalisation. British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. Liverpool Hope University, UK. November 2017 2017 What knowledge is necessary to encourage mathematical talk? Congress of European Research into Mathematics Education, Dublin, Ireland. February 2017. 2016 Mathematical talk: links with Subject Knowledge? International Congress on Mathematics Education. Hamburg, Germany. July 2016 2015 An analysis of pre-service teachers’ reflections on ‘good practice’ teaching videos. British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. St Patrick’s College of Education, Dublin, Ireland. March 2015 2014 Using Grounded Theory: A collaborative approach. British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. University of Southampton, UK. June 2014 2013 Exploring Approaches to Calculations: A comparison between primary and secondary trainee teachers. British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. Bristol University, UK. March 2013 2012 Teacher representations of mathematics in the form of knowledge for teaching. British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. Manchester University, September 2012 2012 Knowledge Quartet Coding Manual conference, Cambridge University. March 2012 2011 Designing a programme for pre-service elementary teachers to develop mental mathematics for teaching. Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Ankara, Turkey. July 2011 2011 Using design-based research to develop a programme of mental mathematics for teaching. British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. Institute of Education, UK. March 2011 2011 The use of the empty number line to develop a programme of mental mathematics for primary trainee teachers. Congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education. Rzescow, Poland. February 2011 2009 Mental mathematics competence: An indication of “Connected” mathematical understanding among trainee teachers?. Association of Teacher Education in Europe Conference. Palma, Majorca. August 2009 2008 “Connected” mathematical understanding, demonstrated through the mental mathematics of trainee teachers. Elementary Mathematics Education Conference. Braga, Portugal. December 2008 2008 Learning Backwards: Trainee Teachers Learning Mental Mathematics. British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics. King’s College London, November 2008 2007 Trainee Teachers’ Mental Mathematics: Patterns and Preferences. British Education Research Association Institute of Education, September 2007 2006 Trainee Teachers Mental Mathematics: Patterns and Preferences. Poster Presentation, British Education Research Association Warwick University, September 2006 2006 Supporting the development of New Researchers in Teacher Education, Workshop presentation. British Education Research Association Warwick University, September 2006 2006 Trainee teachers: Primary Teachers’ Subject Knowledge. Poster Presentation, Learning and Teaching Symposium, Brunel University, April 2006
Mrs Sunita Babbar Mrs Sunita Babbar
Deputy Head of Department / Divisional Lead / Senior Lecturer (Education) in Secondary Education
Sunita’s teaching career spans 17 years in a variety of roles in the secondary school setting. The experience she gained from her years as a classroom practitioner led to her role as a mathematics consultant for a local authority, which involved focusing on school improvement and developing teaching and learning in mathematics. Another key aspect of her role as a consultant was the provision of professional development both at departmental and whole school level, specialising in bespoke Inservice Training sessions. She now works at Brunel University, where she coordinates the secondary PGCert mathematics course. Sunita has always been interested in mathematics education, in particular curriculum development, transition and the development of problem solving skills in mathematics.
Dr Christopher Ince Dr Christopher Ince
Lecturer (Education Academic) in Secondary ITE
I lead Secondary Science PGCE programme, delivering the science sessions of the PGCE programme as well as aspects of the GPE (General Professional Education) sessions. Prior to joining Brunel I taught science for ten years in the English education system of which I spent six years as the Head of Physics at a large state school and sixth-form college in Sheffield. In addition to my work within science I led on Teaching and Learning across the school for three years and was the 'lead' Curriculum Leader, designing and implementing initiatives to improve the quality of teaching and learning across all subjects and key stages. My work draws on many areas of expertise from STEM Education to Policy Analysis and Curriculum Reform, and is currently focused on examining the power structures and discourses that are revealed during educational 'turning points'.