This report provides strategies, recommendations, and cost estimates to improve STEM education during the first two years of post-secondary education. This report is a response to economic forecasting that suggested a need to produce over 1 million new STEM graduates over the next decade in order for the US to continue to compete in a technology-based global economy. PCAST (President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology) assembled a Working Group of experts in postsecondary STEM teaching, learning science research, curriculum development, higher education administration, faculty training, educational technology, and postsecondary STEM education. . The report highlights challenges and barriers to retention and persistence that include a lack of knowledge of evidence-based teaching by faculty, and a lack of facilitation and reward for good teaching.
PCAST identified five overarching recommendations: (1) catalyze widespread adoption of empirically validated teaching practices; (2) advocate and provide support for replacing standard laboratory courses with discovery based research courses; (3) launch a national experiment in postsecondary mathematics education to address the mathematics preparation gap; (4) encourage partnerships among stakeholders to diversify pathways to STEM careers; and (5) create a Presidential Council on STEM Education with leadership from the academic and business communities to provide strategic leadership for transformative and sustainable change in STEM undergraduate education.
Actions to achieve Recommendation 1.
Catalyze widespread adoption of empirically validated teaching practices
- Establish discipline-focused programs funded by Federal research agencies, academic institutions, disciplinary societies, and foundations to train current and future faculty in evidence-based teaching practices.
- Create a “STEM Institutional Transformation Awards” competitive grants program at NSF.
- Request that the National Academies develop metrics to evaluate STEM education.
Actions to achieve Recommendation 2.
Advocate and provide support for replacing standard laboratory courses with discovery-based research courses.
2-1 Expand the use of scientific research and engineering design courses in the first two years through an NSF program.
2-2 Expand opportunities for student research and design in faculty research laboratories by reducing restrictions on Federal research funds and redefining a Department of Education program.
Actions to achieve Recommendation 3.
Launch a national experiment in postsecondary mathematics education to address the mathematics-preparation gap.
3-1 Support a national experiment in mathematics undergraduate education at NSF, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Education.
Actions to achieve Recommendation 4.
Encourage partnerships among stakeholders to diversify pathways to STEM careers.
4-1 Sponsor at the Department of Education summer STEM learning programs for high school students.
4-2 Encourage pathways from 2- to 4-year institutions through an NSF program and expanded definition of a Department of Labor Program.
4-3 Establish public-private partnerships to support successful STEM programs.
4-4 Improve data provided by the Department of Education and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to STEM students, parents, and the greater community on STEM disciplines and the labor market.
Actions to achieve Recommendation 5.
Create a Presidential Council on STEM Education with leadership from the academic and business communities to provide strategic leadership for transformative and sustainable change in STEM undergraduate education.
President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (2012). Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Retrieved from https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast-engage-to-excel-final_2-25-12.pdf