With the theme “STEM Education Towards Education 4.0”, 14 scholars of the Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) who are currently enrolled in the PhD in Education program offered by the Faculty of Education (FEd), University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) participated in the 5th National Research Conference in Science and Mathematics Education (NRCSME) on 28 February – 1 March 2019 at Oriental Hotel, Legazpi City, Albay. UPOU’s PhD in Education program has been a recipient of DOST-SEI’s scholarship program since 1995.

Research outputs highlighting the STEM Education were delivered through poster and oral presentations. A total of 77 scholars presented their outputs, two of which are from UPOU. Listed below are their presentations:

  1. “Digital Immigrants Teaching Digital Natives A Call for a Paradigm Shift” by Aprhodite Macale;and
  2. “Problem Solving Phase Difficulties of Students: A Synopsis” by Dinah Vidad

PhD in Education (Major in Chemistry Education) students Aprhodite Macale (left) and Dinah Vidad (right) presented the results of their studies on STEM education.

The conference serves as an annual convention of the recipients of the scholarship under the Capacity Building Program in Science and Mathematics Education (CBPSME) of the DOST-SEI opening an opportunity for these educators to explore on potential collaborative projects.

CBPSME is implemented in the following universities: Ateneo De Manila University; Bicol University; Central Luzon State University; De La Salle University; Mariano Marcos State University; Mindanao State University-Marawi; Philippine Normal University; UP College of Education, UP Open University; University of San Carlos; Western Mindanao State University; West Visayas State University; and its four new member-universities: Cebu Normal University; Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology; Leyte Normal University; and Saint Mary’s University.

Learn and Explore: The PhD Students’ Experience

The conduct of the conference received positive feedback and reviews from the PhD students. True to its goal of providing a venue for the scholars, scholar-graduates and thesis/dissertation grantees from various consortium-universities to meet and share the outputs of their theses and dissertations, they described the event to be fruitful, informative, rewarding and fun.

Ms. Dinah Vidad concluded her experience as memorable since it is her first time to present her dissertation’s initial findings. For Ms. Roselynn Grace Montecillo, the topics shared during the conference gave her insights on improving her teaching methodologies. Over-all, the presentations and the informal discourse among the participants were itself a learning experience, the students remarked.

Many of these PhD students noted that through this conference, they have been more interested in pursuing science education research. For instance, Mr. Jonathan Barcelo recognized the high impact of science education research on the learning behavior of students with regards to science topics. On a similar note, as an educator, Mr. Alwielland Bello was encouraged to commit himself in more science and mathematics education-aligned research that would help raise the quality of education in the country. In addition, what is notable to Ms. Aprhodite Macale is the need to fastidiously execute their studies in order to meet the standards of education research.

Aside from the knowledge that these UPOU PhD students have gained, another remarkable highlight of the conference is the opportunity it provided to meet their fellow scholars face-to-face. This allowed them to establish potential collaborations and spend quality time with one another through exploring the city of Legazpi, Albay. “The once in a blue moon opportunity of finally meeting my virtual classmates, Dean and other staff of UPOU came into reality,” Ms. Khimberly Del Mar remarked. Even more, their camaraderie helped them to earn an award for Best Cheer during the Fellowship Night of the conference.

The UPOU PhD students enjoyably struck a pose in front of the Mayon Volcano as they had the opportunity to meet one another during the 5TH NRCSME.

STEM Education Towards Education 4.0

Moving forward, the scholars shared their future plans in relation to integrating the conference theme into their professions and endeavors.

One of the measures that Ms. Charibel Sarte has already undertaken is conceptualizing research on assessing the technology self-efficacy and the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) of the teachers in her University which could be used as a basis for faculty support in preparation in advancing towards Education 4.0. Mr. Jonathan Barcelo likewise, is currently doing his dissertation about a new educational intervention which is based on part-whole relationship. In the future, he is considering focusing on developing learning interventions for health science students.

Mr. Bello noted that there is a need to think of innovative ways to promote and improve STEM track in both basic and higher education levels. Similarly, Ms. Montecillo, Mr. Nigel Glenn Javier and Ms. Cledelyn Cuya all advocate for the updating of teaching strategies and re-inventing new ways of learning, teaching, and assessment suitable to the needs of STEM learners through but not only limited to embracing the philosophy of conducting highly interactive and critically-thought provoking discussions. Ms. Cuya further promotes searching for new curricula and programs that are aligned to the objectives of Education 4.0 and conducting research collaborations with fellow teachers.

Ms. Vidad mentioned that one measure that she will initiate is to integrate the results of the presentations in her own classroom setting and inculcate in the minds of the youth the power of science and mathematics. Mr. Mark Archei Javier likewise, sees the requisite of strengthening his knowledge and skills in his field so that he can share the learnings with his students.

Educators, as Ms. Jacqueline Rose Gutierrez emphasized, must bear in mind then that life skills are as important as the knowledge that is imparted on students. She believes that schools should not only provide the knowledge base but also the skill to grow that knowledge with the intent of using it meaningfully.

Through the lens of distance learning in UPOU: Perspectives and Challenges

The flexibility and accessibility that UPOU offers attract a number of part-time and working students juggling various responsibilities at the same time. Testimonies of these DOST scholars tackling their experience as a PhD student highlighted the quality of education that UPOU provides.

Ms. Macale acknowledged that her journey as a PhD student helped her gain maturity both as a teacher and a student. Pursuing PhD opens doors to ideas and new opportunities not only for learning but also in the development of the students’ teaching pedagogy.

Ms. Del Mar, moreover, noted that she regards her enrollment in this institution not only as a great honor but both as a great responsibility and an obligation to work hard. On a similar note, Mr. Javier described his experience of being a PhD student in UPOU as “rough yet ultimately rewarding. It (UPOU education) is not one for the weak-hearted but for those who have the capacity to endure and manage time and talent constraints.” Self-regulation, self-reliance, time management, discipline, and patience are the keys the students have utilized in addressing the dilemma of attaining the balance among their work, studies and personal life.

Amidst the difficulties they have encountered, Ms. Jacqueline Rose Gutierrez mentioned that “While it was full of challenges, but as they say, rough roads lead to beautiful destinations. In this journey, I met people who themselves are epitome of inspiring attitudes – humility in excellence, generosity in service, and simplicity at its finest.”


The PhD in Education program offered by the Faculty of Education is designed primarily for teacher educators, policy makers, researchers, and other educational personnel involved in science and mathematics education. Visit the Faculty of Education microsite to know more on the PhD in Education including the other programs offered by FEd.