This weekend the New York Times ran a very interesting article Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It’s Just So Darn Hard) which we wanted to spotlight here on the Why Science Blog.
The article does a great job of outline many of the issues incoming college freshmen face as they endeavor to obtain a STEM degree. The article also does a very nice job of outlining some of the specific issues that both students and learning institutions are facing when it comes to raising graduation rates for incoming freshman hoping to achieve a STEM degree.
Some of the issues that STEM students face include the ability to achieve high grades versus their counterparts that elect to pursue degrees in the humanities.
The latest research also suggests that there could be more subtle problems at work, like the proliferation of grade inflation in the humanities and social sciences, which provides another incentive for students to leave STEM majors. It is no surprise that grades are lower in math and science, where the answers are clear-cut and there are no bonus points for flair.
In addition there are some real issues that we are facing in terms of how we introduce collegiate level STEM courses to students, and this article does a very nice job of outline some of the ways that schools are beginning to adjust their course loads in ways that tend to be more interactive, and also to focus more on early lab work and smaller class sizes in order to make what are otherwise abstract ideas feel more grounded.
While the the article does acknowledge that high schools and middle schools do seem to be doing a better job, the reality is that when a student enters college and is getting ready to take on college level course work, very few students seem ready. Clearly this is a major pain point in terms of seeing a college student graduate with a core STEM degree, and as Why Science is K-12 STEM education company, preparing students to go on in life and have successful STEM careers is one of our primary goals. We bring this up because while overall we thought Christopher Drew’s article was great, we would also strongly suggest that you take the time to review the comments to this story as while many of them were focused on the job market, and good deal of them were also directed towards the role that K-12 STEM education has in the entire effort to provide our economy with more STEM graduates.
So, feel free to read this article and we would love to hear your thoughts, specifically regarding the role of K-12 Education in contributing to a successful secondary STEM education experience?