Risk Management of STEM Education - The Strategic Risk: Teachers - opportunities, training and social status in Israel

  • Anat Even-Zahav
Keywords: STEM teachers, Risk management, STEM Education, SWOT analysis, Delphi method.


Abstract. A doctorate study conducted in the Faculty of Education Science and Technology at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, offers an innovative implementation of the risk management process for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education in Israel. A three-phase risk-management process employed: Phase 1-Risk Identification, Phase 2-Risk Assessment & Prioritizing, and Phase 3-Risk Response (IRM, 2002). The research goal was to outline a risk-management plan to STEM education in Israel based on the conceptions of five stakeholder groups: Educators, academics, industrials, military and philanthropy actors.

Research findings presented according to the three phases of the risk management analysis performed in the research: SWOT analysis aimed at identifying risks, a Delphi method for the purpose of risks rating, and a response plan aimed at mitigating risks faced by STEM education in Israel (Mikes & Kaplan, 2014; Sabbaghi & Vaidyanathan, 2004; Linstone, & Turoff, 1975).

Forty-three risk factors were identified in phase 1 and grouped into seven risk categories: (a) Sectors in STEM education, (b) Teacher - opportunities, training and social status, (c) Curriculum of STEM subjects; (d) Study sequences - school, higher education, military, labor market, (e) Management of STEM education, (f) Social perceptions, and (g) National programs in STEM education. This article focuses only on one risk category: Teacher - opportunities, training and social status, as this risk category was ranked as strategic risks in terms of the effect on the objectives of STEM education. The following risk factors related to this category are: Lack of promotion tracks for STEM teachers; The teaching profession is not appreciated by the public; STEM teachers’ salary is low relative to alternatives jobs in the industry; The working conditions of STEM teachers are not attractive; Placement and guidance of novice STEM teachers is not provided; Many teachers who teach science in elementary school lack education in the field; Only small number of junior high school teachers who teach "Science and Technology" are Physics or Chemistry teachers; Number of students who study STEM education in universities is low; Lack of a collaborative professional community for STEM teachers. The response plan regarding this risk category: Teacher - opportunities, training and social status offers two courses of action as a way to tackle the risk factors: (1) Teacher training, career development and guidance; (2) Autonomy, trust and supervision discharge.

Research findings highlights the cooperation of the stakeholders in the risk management process of STEM education as a way to mitigate strategic risks. It should be noted that, in reality, cooperation already takes place between the education system and other stakeholders – academia, military, industry, and philanthropy institutions. However, alongside the desire for cooperation, weaknesses were also emphasized in the cooperative work with the education system. The research participants, representatives of for-profit and nonprofits organizations, whose activities are limited by contract with the education system, pointed to bureaucratic processes and expressed the desire to cooperate in professional decisions making and not just being their operators.

Thus, the study's findings indicate the need to examine optimal ways to involve the stakeholders of STEM education and cooperate with them in STEM education processes (Schiffer et al., 2010).