2023 RTP round - Replenishing the STEM pipeline: Boosting high school students' interest and course taking in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Updated: 3 months ago

Status: Opening

Applications open: 8/07/2022
Applications close: 18/08/2022

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About this scholarship

Many nations around the world including Australian Government have directed generous funding toward developing programs to inspire students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers, with a primary focus on elevating students’ STEM performance. However, many Australian students, especially girls, opt out of STEM during high school because they think of science as being boring, hard, or irrelevant to their lives . Dropout of STEM study during high school makes it difficult for students to subsequently re-engage in STEM education and careers, causing STEM pipeline “leakage”. 
Maintaining high school students’ STEM interest will help them keep their career options open, provide opportunities to tackle challenging tasks in STEM (e.g., meeting Australia’s future energy needs), make visible and positive impacts on society, and find fulfilment in their lives. Although growing evidence has shown that when students’ interest in an academic topic is increased, they are more likely to perform better, persist and engage in further study, there is a paucity of interventions designed to replenish the STEM pipeline by promoting students’ STEM interest, particularly in Australia. In response to such urgency, the proposed project will address the following three interrelated aims:
1: To investigate how STEM interest is developed and sustained from childhood to adolescence, with regard to a range of developmental, educational, psychological, and sociocultural factors including gender;
2: To develop and test a scalable, research-derived online/offline motivation intervention by targeting multiple psychological and sociocultural factors, designed to promote and sustain STEM interest; and
3: To identify the factors which influence the efficacy of the motivation intervention and generate new knowledge to inform how teachers and policy makers can promote and sustain STEM interest at high school.
Australians with expertise in STEM are helping to solve the problems of the future, such as adapting to the changing climate and integrating Artificial Intelligence into society. The recent impacts of floods, bushfires and COVID-19 have also shown the value of an educated STEM workforce in developing solutions for response, recovery, and long-term resilience. A flourishing STEM sector also benefits national economic growth and competitiveness. Without investment in STEM subjects, Australia could drop out of the top 20 economies by 2050. By implication, it is more important than ever for the nation’s education system to focus on STEM courses. However, in Australia the percentage of university graduates from STEM subjects remained less than 19% in the last decade. Also, only 29% of those with university STEM qualifications in Australia are female, indicating a large gender gap in STEM representation. Creating equal opportunities for women to pursue and thrive in STEM careers helps narrow the gender pay gap, enhances women’s economic security, ensures a diverse and talented STEM workforce, and prevents biases in these fields and the products and services they produce.
The project will develop and test the efficacy of a scalable, research-derived, and multifaceted motivation intervention designed to promote and motivate high school students' STEM interest and course-taking, informed by theories in educational psychology. This research is expected to yield significant practical and conceptual advances in improving STEM motivation and provide scalable intervention program. This research also advances policy and practice to promote female students interest and retention in STEM courses, thus ensuing a diverse and talented STEM workforce. 

  • Future Students

  • Faculty of Humanities

  • Higher Degree by Research

  • Australian Citizen
  • Australian Permanent Resident
  • New Zealand Citizen
  • Permanent Humanitarian Visa

  • Merit Based

The annual scholarship package (stipend and tuition fees) is approx. $60,000 - $70,000 p.a.


Successful HDR applicants for admission will receive a 100% fee offset for up to 4 years, stipend scholarships, valued at $28,854 p.a. for up to a maximum of 3.5 years, are determined via a competitive selection process. Applicants will be notified of the scholarship outcome in November 2022. 


For detailed information, visit: Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships | Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

Scholarship Details


All applicable HDR courses

Preferred applicant would be a qualified secondary Science and/or mathematics teacher with interest in research and bringing out a positive change in educational settings. Knowledge of learning environments and quantitative research methods though not mandatory but would be helpful. 

Application process

If this project excites you, and your research skills and experience are a good fit for this specific project, you should contact the Project Lead (listed below in the enquires section) via the Expression of Interest (EOI) form.

Enrolment Requirements

Eligible to enrol in a Higher Degree by Research Course at Curtin University by March 2023


To enquire about this project opportunity that includes a scholarship application, contact the Project lead, Associate Professor Rekha Koul via the EOI form above.

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