STEM Education News
June 7, 2012
In this Issue:
- Note from Triangle Coalition President
- Request for Ideas About a Mathematics Education Initiative
- STEM Disciplines Dominate the 15 Most Valuable College Majors
- Business-Higher Education Forum to Launch New Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative
- NMSI’s UTeach Program Reaches Enrollment Milestone of 5,500 Students
- Findings Say Reducing Undergraduate Debt is Key to Broadening Participation for Latinos in STEM Fields
- 47 Colleges to Participate in $50 Million Science Education Initiative
Request for Ideas About a Mathematics Education Initiative
The National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the U.S Department of Education (ED) is interested in input that can inform new activities and programs to support and improve K-16 mathematics education.
The President’s fiscal year 2013 budget to Congress proposes a jointly administrated K-16 mathematics education initiative funded by NSF ($30 million) and ED ($30 million). This funding will create a dual-agency initiative on mathematics education that will combine the strengths of NSF and ED to stimulate needed research and development in mathematics education and the use of successful practices and innovations at scale. This initiative will support researchers, practitioners, and institutions with the greatest potential for transformational impact, and provide opportunities for state, local and institutional decision-makers to infuse proven practices into mathematics education. The goal is to have a lasting impact on the learning and teaching of mathematics.
To shape the direction of this initiative, NSF and ED are seeking help from all concerned with K-16 mathematics education. What do you think are the highest priority issues or challenges that need to be addressed in order to improve K-16 mathematics teaching and learning in the country?
The suggestions received may be used to help shape directions for this initiative. Please submit your ideas by July 1, 2012 by using the online form at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/k_16_initiative.
STEM Disciplines Dominate the 15 Most Valuable College Major
Forbes highlighted the current 15 most valuable college majors and it comes as no surprise that the list predominantly concentrates on fields involving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). To rate the majors, PayScale analyzed the compensation of 120 college majors along with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics growth projections through 2020 and ranked the top majors by salary and growth opportunities.
Biomedical engineering ranked top of the list, with a median starting salary of $53,800, an average mid-career salary of $97,800, and job growth projected at 61.7%. Engineering fields make up one third of the most valuable majors and the rest require strong skills in science, technology and mathematics:
3. Computer Science
4. Software Engineering
5. Environmental Engineering
6. Civil Engineering
8. Management Information Systems
9. Petroleum Engineer
10. Applied Mathematics
12. Construction Management
To learn more about the top ranked majors, see the slide show at Forbes.com.
Business-Higher Education Forum to Launch New Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative
Next week, the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) will kick-off a new initiative designed to improve undergraduate STEM education through collaborative projects between industry and higher education. At a special event, The Introduction of a New Industry-Higher Education Solution for the NextGen Workforce, taking place on Monday, June 11 in the Russell Senate Office Building, BHEF will announce twelve regional workforce projects in today’s high-demand STEM fields. These projects will center on cybersecurity, big-data, life sciences, water, energy, engineering, and entrepreneurship. A diverse panel of leading national industry and higher education experts will also discuss how these projects are poised to drive change for their constituencies.
The projects will be based in California, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. These BHEF initiatives will build learning incubators for undergraduates in the education pipeline and will contribute to recommendations recently made by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), specifically calling for greater attention on the first two years of college and on the need for one million additional STEM graduates over the next ten years. They also respond to the recommendations of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competiveness, which include increasing the number of industry-driven undergraduate research internships and production of engineering degrees nationally.
BHEF partners, including the Aerospace Industries Association, American Chemical Society, American Council on Education, Triangle Coalition Member – the American Society of Engineering Education, Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, National Defense Industries Association, Semiconductor Industries Association, and TechNet, have committed to a set of joint priorities and strategies to better align the individual and combined efforts of the undergraduate community around common goals, thus creating an equal voice for industry, research, and academia.
This work is part of BHEF’s STEM Higher Education and Workforce Project, which aims to identify new forms of collaboration among business and industry, higher education, and government to increase the persistence of students, particularly women and underrepresented minorities, who graduate in STEM fields; deepen STEM knowledge and skills; and strengthen the alignment of undergraduate STEM education to workforce needs.
The Introduction of a New Industry-Higher Education Solution for the NextGen Workforce, open to the public, will take place on Monday, June 11 from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. in the Kennedy Caucus Room (SR-325), located in the Russell Senate Office Building. Click here to register for the event.
NMSI’s UTeach Program Reaches Enrollment Milestone of 5,500 Students
The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) recently announced that its highly acclaimed teacher training program, UTeach, has reached the enrollment milestone of more than 5,500 students and 800 program graduates, creating a new generation of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers for the U.S. public school system.
The announcement was made on May 24 at a STEM teacher panel, “America’s Future STEMS on Good Teachers: Are We Ready?,” which NMSI hosted at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Leaders also announced that the UTeach program has expanded the program to its 30th university campus, Towson University, near Baltimore, MD.
The UTeach program encourages college students majoring in math, science, or computer science to pursue careers in teaching and enables them to receive full teaching certification without adding time or cost to their degrees. NMSI, in partnership with the UTeach Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, has implemented the program in college campuses across the U.S. since 2008. Eight hundred college students – and potential future teachers – have graduated from the program, which has seen its enrollment nearly quintuple in just four years. NMSI estimates that the first group of UTeach graduates will have taught more than four million students by the year 2020.
NMSI has been a leader in addressing the nation’s call for a new pipeline of highly qualified STEM teachers through its UTeach program and through partnerships with national organizations such as 100Kin10, which seeks to recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers in the next 10 years. Teacher training for existing STEM teachers nationwide is also a critical component of NMSI’s Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program (APTIP) and Laying the Foundation program.
“Our nation needs an additional 280,000 math and science teachers by 2015, and the UTeach program is playing a key role in providing those teachers,” said Dr. Mary Ann Rankin, President and CEO of NMSI. “The expansion of the program to Maryland underscores that demand for the UTeach program continues to grow around the country and proves that more college students will seek careers as math and science teachers if you provide an approach that makes sense,” she added.
Funding for the new program at Towson University was made possible through a $1.33 million grant from the Maryland State Department of Education, which received federal Race to the Top funds. Through the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, NMSI committed an additional $680,000 in funding, and the University System of Maryland pledged another $300,000 annually.
Findings Say Reducing Undergraduate Debt is Key to Broadening Participation for Latinos in STEM Fields
Reducing undergraduate debt through financial aid policy can increase the number of Latino students who become scientists, engineers, and mathematicians by enabling them to continue to invest in their education beyond the bachelor’s degree, according to a new report by the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California. Underrepresented students, particularly Latino students, borrow at higher rates to pay for undergraduate degrees, which limits their ability to invest in graduate and professional schools.
“With growing attention to student loan debt, this is the opportune time for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to consider innovative ways for the federal government to support student investments in STEM degrees by providing a more balanced package of loans, grants, work study aid, and community or business sector support,” said Dr. Alicia C. Dowd, Associate Professor at the University of Southern California, Co-Director of the Center for Urban Education, and co-author of the report.
The report, Reducing Undergraduate Debt to Increase Latina and Latino Participation in STEM Professions, examines the borrowing patterns of undergraduate students and the relation of that debt to enrollment in graduate school. It shows that even low amounts of debt can have a negative impact on graduate enrollment. Latino students with high debt, relative to others in their class, are 17% less likely than students without debt to go on to graduate or professional school. Those with low debt were 14% less likely. In a 2011 report, the National Academies called for a short term goal of doubling participation of African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and other racial-ethnic groups in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with long term goals that call for tripling and even quadrupling their enrollment. The Center for Urban Education’s report makes it clear this increase is unlikely without addressing the issue of financing undergraduate education.
While increased undergraduate debt is a national concern as it can decrease recent graduates’ ability to function in society, this report raises the issue that undergraduate debt is not just a quality of life concern for graduates, but may be negatively impacting the nation’s workforce by limiting the number of students who go on to graduate school. A prior report in this series noted increasing participation of Latino STEM students at all degree levels is not just a matter of fairness and social equity, but of workforce need. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in STEM occupations will increase by 21.3% from 2008 to 2018 – more than double the growth in other occupations. Latinos are the fastest growing demographic group and are projected to make up 25% of the U.S. population in 2020.
Recommendations from the report include:
- Continue and enlarge the federal Pell grant program.
- Reduce the risk of unmanageable debt by keeping interest rates steady at their current levels.
- Expand access to research assistantships, particularly at institutions that serve high numbers of Latinos such as Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and community colleges.
- Create a STEM focused work-study program
- Explore the potential of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)
- Monitor the use of Title V HSI-STEM funds to ensure they’re promoting Latino student preparation and success in STEM
- Disaggregate analysis of student loan debt by race and ethnicity to monitor borrowing in federal subsidized loan programs
The report comes from a research grant funded by the National Science Foundation and is the fourth in a series. It was written by Dr. Alicia C. Dowd, Associate Professor and co-director at the Center for Urban Education (CUE), and Dr. Lindsey E. Malcom, Assistant Professor at George Washington University.
47 Colleges to Participate in $50 Million Science Education Initiative
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced that it has selected 47 small colleges and universities in the United States as the recipients of grants totaling over $50 million that will enable the schools to work together to create more engaging science classes, bring real-world research experiences to students, and increase the diversity of students who study science.
Each four-year grant is in the range of $800,000 to $1.5 million – an amount that can have a big impact at these schools, which are collectively described as “primarily undergraduate institutions,” or PUIs. The small size of most of these schools can make them more nimble than larger research universities and better able to quickly develop and test new ideas.
“What happens during the undergraduate years is vital to the development of the student, whether she will be a scientist, a science educator, or a member of society who is scientifically curious and literate. HHMI is investing in these schools because they have shown they are superb incubators of new ideas and models that might be replicated by other institutions to improve how science is taught in college,” said Sean B. Carroll, vice president of science education at HHMI. “We know that these schools have engaged faculty. They care deeply about teaching and how effectively their students are learning about science.”
Importantly, this initiative is designed to encourage long-term collaboration among the schools. As the schools carry out their programs, they will have the opportunity to discuss strategies regularly with other schools working on a similar problem. The principal activities of the programs are grouped into six strategic themes:
- Preparing undergraduates to become K-12 teachers who understand inquiry-based learning
- Creating curricula that emphasize learning competencies instead of simply checklists of courses
- Defining and assessing what it means for a student to be scientifically literate
- Developing effective strategies that promote the persistence of all students in science
- Creating course-based research experiences that will help students learn science by doing authentic research
- Encouraging students to engage in research through “one-on-one” apprentice-based experiences
“The strategic theme-based approach is a new opportunity that enables the grantees to organize into smaller groups so that faculty from schools can come together throughout the next four years to share ideas, challenges, solutions,” said David J. Asai, director of HHMI’s precollege and undergraduate program. “We anticipate that the theme-based programs will provide useful models that will inform other institutions, including larger research universities, about strategies that might be replicated.”
Since 1988, HHMI has awarded more than $870 million to 274 colleges and universities to support science education at undergraduate-focused institutions and also at research universities. HHMI support has enabled nearly 85,000 students nationwide to work in research labs and developed programs that have helped 100,000 K-12 teachers learn how to teach science more effectively.
HHMI’s approach differs from that of many other organizations, including the federal government, because its science education awards are made at an institutional level and not to individuals. As a result, HHMI encourages science faculty and administrators at colleges and universities to work together to develop common educational goals—something they might not do otherwise. HHMI grants can allow an institution to try new and untested ideas that could not be readily implemented without the HHMI funds.