Survey: Educators aren’t discussing STEM careers with students
Students say content is interesting, but teachers don’t promote career options
By Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor, eSchool Online, Feb 25, 2010
Teachers say they don’t have the time or the resources to discuss STEM career options with their students.
In a recent survey, a majority of students said that while their science and math teachers seem knowledgeable and keep class interesting, they aren’t teaching about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career options. High school students also said they don’t believe STEM knowledge is integral to getting a good job, which doesn’t bode well for leaders counting on STEM education to keep the nation at the forefront of the global economy.
Spurred by the Obama administration’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign—a nationwide effort by U.S. companies, foundations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to help move America to the top of the pack in math and science education—the American Society for Quality (ASQ) commissioned market research firm Harris Interactive to conduct an online survey to uncover how well teachers transfer their knowledge and passion for science and math to their students and inspire them to pursue STEM careers.
The survey, conducted in December, asked more than a thousand students in grades 3-12 to provide a scaled report card (with grades ranging from A-F) on their science teachers’ classroom skills and activities.
Although 85 percent of students said their teachers deserve at least a “B” when it comes to knowledge about science topics (55 percent of students gave their teachers an “A”), 63 percent of high school students said their teachers are not doing a good job of talking to them about engineering careers (”C” or lower), and 42 percent of high school students said their teachers don’t ably demonstrate how science can be used in a career (”C” or lower).
Also, students in grades 7-12 are less likely than third through sixth graders to believe a person needs to be skilled science and math to get a good paying job (66 percent vs. 80 percent).
“We believe that as students get older and begin to diversify their studies and become more aware of the wide range of available career opportunities, they start to think that math and science aren’t necessarily critical to their job hunt,” said Maurice Ghysels, chair of ASQ’s Education Advisory Council.
“In some cases, a contributing factor is that some teachers aren’t doing all they can to connect the dots between the math [and] science work that students are doing on a daily basis and how it relates to the real world and their future careers.”
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