World leading scholar Professor Jan van Driel will join the Melbourne Graduate School of Education this September as the inaugural Professor of Science Education.

He will work closely with other faculties including science, engineering and medicine to provide leadership in science education reform and the development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers.

Professor van Driel said that in order to counter the declining interest in science among Australian students, teachers need to make science more enjoyable and relevant.

“In many classrooms around the world, science is still taught as if there is always one right answer. This dominance of traditional science teaching methods has no doubt contributed to the decline of these subjects in schools.

“Research has demonstrated that this approach is particularly demotivating for girls,” said Professor van Driel.

“There are excellent examples of how science teachers can implement innovative approaches that lift student engagement and performance. To do this, teachers must be well supported and equipped with the skills, confidence and research-based knowledge.”

A former chemistry teacher, Professor van Driel has a PhD in chemical education, and until recently was Professor of Science Education and Director of the Leiden University Graduate School of Teaching in the Netherlands.

Dean of Education, Professor Field Rickards said he was delighted by Professor van Driel’s appointment, which was the result of an international search.

“Jan’s work is influential in informing the professional development of science teachers, and this is the perfect time for him to increase our work in this space. STEM education is in the spotlight as schools face increased pressure to engage students in science.

“Australia’s future economy depends on how well its students are equipped with foundational skills and knowledge in critical science fields,” said Professor Rickards.