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White House: Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

February 9, 2012

Today, the President’s Councl of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released this Report to the President: Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

 

PCAST found through economic forecasting the need for producing 1 milion more college graduates in STEM fields over what is expected in the next ten years, which the President called for in his remarks at the 2nd Annual White House Science Fair on Tuesday. But the question remains: how are we going to achieve this goal?

 

PCAST’s report finds that less than 40% of college students planning on majoring in a STEM field actually end up completing that major. Currently, the United States graduates about 300,000 students in STEM majors each year. Increasing the retention of STEM majors from 40% to 50% alone would account for ¾ of President’s initiative to gain 1 million new STEM majors. Retaining STEM majors becomes a major hurdle.

 

The reasons why students switch majors away from STEM ones include un-inspiring introductory courses, difficulty with the mathematics required to perform well in STEM courses, and an unwelcoming environment created by STEM faculty, particulary for under-represented groups such as women and minorities. The report finds that the first two years of college, either at liberal arts colleges, community colleges, traditional 4-year universities, research universities, and minority-serving institutions, are the most important area of focus in retaining STEM majors.

 

Additionally, PCAST identified five over-arching recommendations in the report:

  1. universal adoption of research-based teaching practices
  2.  support replacing standard laboratory courses with “discovery-based research courses”
  3. close the mathematics-preparation gap with a national experiment in postsecondary mathematics education initiatives
  4. use partnerships among stakeholders to diversify parthways to STEM jobs
  5.  establish a Presidential Council on STEM Education

 

Read the rest of this interesting report: Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

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