Career development in research and consultancy in STEM
By Angela Rutakomozibwa
I am currently a graduate student at the university of British Columbia (UBC) who is originally a professional trained teacher and educator with over 15 years’ experience in education management. I taught science at an advanced level, in particular physics. Further, I have worked with the Ministry of Education in designing, developing and writing curricular, syllabus and curriculum support materials for school and colleges, research, monitoring and evaluation of education programs.
My concern for female participation in STEM-related programs and especially physics was heightened when I joined the undergraduate program at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in the early 1990s. I struggled with questions such as: What happened to all the females who graduated from high school? What could be keeping many females whom I knew were just as bright as I was from pursuing studies in STEM-related fields? This state of wonderment has persisted in me to date and hence the reason for advancing into proposing research projects to further investigate how a technology-based instructional strategy might help female students’ who are learning physics to make career advancements into STEM.
My goal is to become a professor in science education in research and consultancy (R&C) who will work mainly on research related to STEM. From 2019 when I am still finishing my dissertation, my target five years from now is to revamp a functioning R&C section with enough human and fiscal resources.
I am on study leave now but apart from that I am an employee of the Tanzania Institute of Education, which is a Ministry of Education organization that has roles and responsibilities of curriculum development in the country. It is the only organization in the country that is mandated for that function among others.
As I prepare to complete my studies, I look forward to enhancing the research and consultancy section of the Ministry through working collaboratively with different institutions including universities on various projects. Given available opportunities, if necessary, I would transfer to the university to advise the responsible Ministry on issues related to science teaching and learning and especially improving the environment for female students teaching and learning in STEM-related fields.
There are possible obstacles that might hinder my achievements, but I have anticipated solutions that may propel me along my career pathway towards my goal. Listed here are the obstacles with anticipated solutions.
- Obstacle 1: The section might not get enough resources/funding allocated for the identified challenges.
Solution 1: Prepare a five-year strategic plan that may be used to solicit/seek funds from organization/institutions.
- Obstacle 2: Not sure whether the management will buy into the idea as a priority area for the institution.
Solution 2: Prepare and present a short-term proposal to management for selling ideas on the importance of project funding before advancing to the next stage.
- Obstacle 3: Not sure current management or Ministry of Education will allow my transfer to go work with the university because of conflict of interest.
Solution 3: Arrange meetings with my director to discuss the situation before submitting my application for approval.
- Obstacle 4: I don’t know how easily the strategic plan may be accepted by the Ministry.
Solution 4: Consult different organizations and share the plan before submission during the budgetary period.
To advance in achieving this career development goal, there are some of activities that may be ongoing and/or need accomplishment to achieve these goals.
- Attend courses or trainings related to career development to meet professionals and share innovative ideas about research projects.
- Pursue self-study or seek out training opportunity on how to prepare a strong strategic plan that may be sellable.
- Meet and share my ideas with people/colleagues whom I admire and have engaged in projects.
- Begin the communication with my director about the idea for understanding and share with the management team well in advance.
- Solicit whether there are opportunities for transfer and approach universities that have positions by submitting documents for applications.
(Angela Rutakomozibwa) My parents encouraged us to value education, which they considered wealth in life and often referred to science! This is what inspired me into science education culminating into graduating as a high school physics teacher. I served as a curriculum expert for 15 years until coming to UBC. Offering quality science education especially to female students has always been my passion. As a PhD candidate in the department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, my focus is how technology-based instructional strategies might impact female students’ motivation and engagement in physics learning.