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Professional Development of Secondary School STEM Educators in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematized Literature Review

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Continuing Professional Development Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Continuing Professional Development

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Paper Authors


Moses Olayemi Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Moses Olayemi is a doctoral student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He is passionate about the professional development of STEM educators as change agents in the educational landscape of Sub-Saharan Africa. He aspired to leverage research-based empirical evidence to influence education policies.

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Collins N. Vaye Florida International University

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Collins N. Vaye is a first-generation graduate student and a native of the Republic of Liberia. Growing up as a kid, he has always been interested in computers, how they work, and their evolving applications. As a result of his curiosity regarding the use of computers, he developed a strong desire to enter the engineering field, which supersedes the goal of just finding a steady job. He holds an MSc. in Computer Engineering and is very passionate about Engineering Education and its application in developing countries.

Over the years, he had led several student-centered projects and programs that promote STEM Education and Innovation. Collins creates and uploads Tech-Education-related content via Facebook and YouTube helping others improve their technical skills and remain productive while observing COVID-19. Conducting these activities proves how passionate he is about Engineering Education and its application.

Mr. Vaye is currently a doctoral student in the Ph.D. in Engineering and Computing Education Program at the School of Universal Computing, Construction, and Engineering Education, Florida International University. His ultimate ambition is to use the knowledge acquired from his studies to conduct cutting-edge research and develop and promote engineering innovations to benefit the global community. Mr. Vaye is passionate about aiding the transformation and substantiality of Engineering Education in developing countries.

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Viyon Dansu University of Nebraska - Lincoln Orcid 16x16

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I had my Bs and Ms in Systems Engineering at the University of Lagos Nigeria. I co-founded STEM-Ed Africa, a social enterprise involved in developing student's problem solving abilities in STEM.I am currently an engineering education graduate research assistant at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Jennifer DeBoer Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Jennifer DeBoer is currently Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research focuses on international education systems, individual and social development, technology use and STEM learning, and educational environments for diverse learners.

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Studies funded by the World Bank suggest that developing the teaching capacities of educators in sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most effective ways of improving the state of education, and indirectly, the quality of life of Sub-Saharan African citizens. Consequently, effective teacher development requires an intimate knowledge of the current state of teacher development in the subcontinent. This study was motivated by a recognition of that need. Thus, we conducted a systematized literature review synthesizing existing literature on the professional development of secondary-school science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educators in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Our guiding research questions follow: what recommendations have been made regarding effective professional development of STEM Educators in Sub-Saharan Africa, what professional development programs have been conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa in the past 5 decades, how were they facilitated, and what did subsequent evaluation of their impact reveal?

We limited our review to articles focused on STEM teacher development in 44 sub-Saharan African countries. Our review included articles that were published in peer-reviewed journals, conferences, or books within the past 40 years. We excluded articles that were published in languages other than English. Twenty-three articles satisfied the inclusion and exclusion criteria for this review and formed the primary studies for the synthesis. Because of the sparsity of peer-reviewed articles, we expanded our scope to include gray literature.

Our analysis of the methodologies showed that authors predominantly took a quantitative approach to address the deficiencies of STEM educators in sub-Saharan Africa. In our discussion, we argue that this lens tends to focus on the numbers rather than the quality of pedagogical instructional practice. Our study also revealed that recruitment of participants of the professional development interventions, more often than not, failed to cater to the gender diversity of teachers in the respective settings.

Recommendations offered by teacher trainers and researchers regarding professional development efforts were analyzed thematically. We discuss our findings using a macro, meso, micro-level model. Macro-level recommendations included systemic reforms addressing the acquisition of resources (e.g., technological teaching aids), provision of incentives for teacher development, emphasis on teacher licensing, and alignment of education goals to national priorities. Meso-level recommendations suggested including teachers in the co-construction of curricular and instructional content as well as conceptual understanding of teachers’ motivations for entering the teaching profession. At the micro-level, recommendations discussed the importance of focusing on personal efforts that STEM teachers take to develop their teaching practice.

Olayemi, M., & Vaye, C. N., & Dansu, V., & DeBoer, J. (2021, July), Professional Development of Secondary School STEM Educators in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematized Literature Review Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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