Today’s learners are engaging in study where access to knowledge is easier than it ever has been in human history. Rapid advancement of technology and the increasing ease with which communication and interaction can occur has dramatically changed the landscape in which teachers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) operate. The contemporary skills that students are required to possess include inter alia problem solving, creativity, teamwork abilities, communication skills and emotional intelligence. Despite the universal acceptance of their importance, these skills are commonly cited as underdeveloped and in addition, are still accompanied by outmoded ‘traditional’ forms of teaching and assessment. While the approaches of twentieth-century education were successful in developing knowledge stores, the ubiquity of access to knowledge—coupled with the constantly changing nature of the world today—requires alternative conceptions of teaching and learning. This article focuses primarily on an exploration of learning metaphors and teaching with the overall lens of creating self-regulated and furthermore, self-determined learners. The article begins with an exploration of learning in STEM education and a critique of the pedagogical perspective, discussing why this epistemology may be insufficient for contemporary STEM learning. The article then considers an alternative and potentially more contemporary notion; the emergent pedagogic space. The article presents a theoretical model to conceptualise learning in STEM education, with the goal of informing both practice and research. The realisation of this proposed emergent pedagogical space is explored through an applied case study from a design and technology context.
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