June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
13.130.1 - 13.130.15
A Vision for P-16 STEM Education and the Relationship Between Secondary and Higher Education in STEM Education
The United States is at a critical crossroads in regard to science and technology education. The pressures for reform are many. Professional engineering societies are addressing the prerequisites necessary for professional practice, i.e. the bodies of knowledge necessary for professional practice. In a recent report, the National Academy of Engineering calls for education reform to restore the nation to its competitive technological edge. Numerous states are increasing educational standards and are requiring more science and mathematics to be part of the secondary school curriculum. None of these, however, provides a unified vision for STEM education across the P-16 curriculum, and in particular for the relationship between secondary and higher education in furthering STEM education. Further, measures must be implemented to attract more students into the STEM fields, both as practitioners and as educators.
Presented in this paper is a vision for educational reform across P-16 education that can address these critical issues. A framework is provided for STEM education that will better prepare all students so that they can pursue a STEM career, possibly in education, if that is their eventual choice. Students’ options and preparedness will not be limited based on curricular choices or lack of preparedness. Those students not choosing a STEM career will have a better understanding of technology which is essential in the 21st century. Within the framework presented, the following issues are addressed:
National STEM Education Landscape
Many policymakers, business leaders, and education experts believe that the progress and prosperity of the United States is dependent on a knowledge-based economy requiring a dynamic, motivated, and well-educated workforce with superior science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills. Thomas Friedman (1), in the book The World is Flat, makes a case that other nations such as India and China are rapidly catching up to the U.S. The title is a metaphor for viewing the world as flat or level in terms of commerce and competition, as in a level playing field —or one where all competitors have an equal opportunity. Friedman suggests that there must be a shift in education if countries, companies and individuals want to remain competitive in a global market where historical, regional and geographical divisions are becoming increasingly irrelevant.
In the report from the National Academy of Engineering (2) Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, four recommendations that policy-makers should implement to create high-quality jobs and focus new science and technology efforts on meeting the nation's needs were provided, namely:
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