New Report! National Academies Press – Indicators for Monitoring Undergraduate STEM Education

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals generate a stream of scientific discoveries and technological innovations that fuel job creation and national economic growth. Ensuring a robust supply of these professionals is critical for sustaining growth and creating jobs growth at a time of intense global competition. Undergraduate STEM education prepares the STEM professionals of today and those of tomorrow, while also helping all students develop knowledge and skills they can draw on in a variety of occupations and as individual citizens. However, many capable students intending to major in STEM later switch to another field or drop out of higher education altogether, partly because of documented weaknesses in STEM teaching, learning and student supports. Improving undergraduate STEM education to address these weaknesses is a national imperative.

The new report identifies national indicators to measure the status and quality of undergraduate STEM education.

Reconsidering Faculty Development to Broaden Participation in STEM

Even though colleges and universities in the United States produce nearly two million graduates each year (Ryan and Bauman 2016), American higher education is not without significant challenges related to the success of its most valuable stakeholders—undergraduate students. Arguably, most pressing among these is the hemorrhagic loss of talented undergraduate students from the STEM disciplines. Indeed, every fifteen minutes, a student majoring in STEM either changes his or her major to a non-STEM discipline or withdraws from college altogether (NSF 2017). This phenomenon disproportionately, although not exclusively, affects African American, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American (collectively, AALANA) students, who now comprise the fastest-growing undergraduate populations in US colleges and universities (NSF 2017).