Tag Archives: STEM education

Perspectives on Higher Education for the New Academic Year

21st century careers require highly skilled workers with strong technical knowledge as well as the ability to solve problems, think creatively, work collaboratively and function as lifelong learners. Recent National Academies studies dive into some of today’s most urgent higher education issues. We asked the Study Directors of each of the publications featured below to highlight actionable recommendations for universities and other stakeholders.

 

“The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded nationally in computer and information science and support services has surged in recent years, increasing by 74 percent between 2009 and 2015, compared to a 16 percent increase in bachelor’s degrees overall. At the same time, interest in computer science courses among majors and non-majors alike has also grown, reflecting the increasing importance of CS skills across disciplines and occupational fields, and in daily life. This report explores the drivers of and potential strategies for responding to this increased demand, noting that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Academic institutions should respond with urgency to the current demand while planning for the future role of CS institution-wide, taking deliberate actions to support diversity in their programs.” — Emily Grumbling, Study Officer

Assessing and Responding to the Growth of Computer Science Undergraduate Enrollments

The field of computer science (CS) is currently experiencing a surge in undergraduate degree production and course enrollments, which is straining program resources at many institutions and causing concern among faculty and administrators about how best to respond to the rapidly growing demand. …

[more]

 

“The U.S. system of graduate education for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has long served as an international gold standard by preparing researchers to advance the frontiers of discovery. Given major global challenges such as the rapid innovations in the conduct of research, the role of STEM in the workforce and the economy, and the increasingly diverse backgrounds of students seeking advances degrees, how prepared is the system of graduate education to respond to these changes? The report Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century calls for cultural change in academic research, which requires adjusting the incentive systems driven in large part by federal and state funding agencies. The incentives often lack alignment with the ideal, student-centric vision of graduate education called for by the committee, which includes support for diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environments; a system that provides training for mentors and advisors; time and resources for broad career exploration; and increased mental health services. The committee addressed these critical issues, as well as drawing attention to the need for increased data collection in and research on graduate STEM education programs, and provided a series of recommendations to ensure that all stakeholders in the system understand their role in driving change.” — Layne Scherer, Study Officer

Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century

The U.S. system of graduate education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has served the nation and its science and engineering enterprise extremely well. Over the course of their education, graduate students become involved in advancing the frontiers of discovery, as …

[more]

 

“The ‘Branches from the Same Tree’ study explored the impact on students of educational approaches that integrate the humanities and arts with science, engineering, and medicine in higher education. The title of the study is based on a quote from Albert Einstein in which he describes the unity of human knowledge, stating ‘all religions, arts, and sciences are branches from the same tree.’ The study committee found that integrative educational approaches are associated with positive student learning outcomes, including increased critical thinking abilities, higher-order thinking and deeper learning, content mastery, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills, improved visuospatial reasoning, and general engagement and enjoyment of learning. The committee found an incredible groundswell of enthusiasm for integrative educational approaches and catalogued over 200 interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary programs and courses at a diverse array of colleges and universities.” — Ashley Bear, Study Officer

The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree

In the United States, broad study in an array of different disciplines —arts, humanities, science, mathematics, engineering— as well as an in-depth study within a special area of interest, have been defining characteristics of a higher education. But over time, in-depth study in a major …

[more]

 

“There is a growing concern that the biomedical research enterprise, for all of its many strengths, is beset by several core challenges that undercut its vitality, promise, and productivity and that could diminish its critical role in the nation’s health and innovation in the biomedical industry. This is not a new problem – in fact, reports addressing vulnerabilities in the biomedical research workforce have been issued over the last two decades. The committee for the Next Generation Researchers Initiative investigated conclusions from these earlier reports and identified several impediments to progress over the years. A key impediment has been an absence of shared responsibility for the biomedical research system. Many stakeholders in the system tend to hold the federal government responsible for this system, placing blame for failures at the feet of NIH, the principal funder of biomedical research. Doing so, however, obscures the important role that other organizations, particularly universities, must play in developing and implementing solutions. The committee therefore offered several recommendations specifically for universities, as well as a mechanism for shared oversight of the system.” — Lida Beninson, Study Officer

The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through

Since the end of the Second World War, the United States has developed the world’s preeminent system for biomedical research, one that has given rise to revolutionary medical advances as well as a dynamic and innovative business sector generating high-quality jobs and powering economic output …

[more]

 

“More than 50% of female faculty and staff in higher education and between 20-50% of female students have experienced sexual harassment. Even when the sexual harassment consists of sexist insults or crude behavior, without any unwanted sexual attention or sexual coercion, it can undermine women’s professional and educational attainment and mental and physical health. To stop the pattern of harassing behavior from impacting the next generation of women, a change to the culture and climate in colleges and universities is needed. This report reviews the research on sexual harassment in academia and details how system-wide changes in higher education can be implemented to prevent and address sexual harassment in education and research settings.” — Frazier Benya, Study Officer

Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Over the last few decades, research, activity, and funding has been devoted to improving the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine. In recent years the diversity of those participating in these fields, particularly the participation …

[more]

Resources to Improve Undergrad STEM Education

As the chart below indicates, STEM education will continue to significantly contribute to the nation’s economy and prosperity. In an environment of increasing tuition and shrinking public funding, the most successful colleges and universities will be the ones that promote excellent teaching and support students as they work toward their degrees. Our reports discuss changing pathways to degrees and methods to improve teaching beyond the lecture hall. All are free to download.

Credit: U.S. Department of Education

Credit: U.S. Department of Education

Reaching Students: What Research Says About Effective Instruction in Undergraduate Science and Engineering

The undergraduate years are a turning point in producing scientifically literate citizens and future scientists and engineers. Evidence from research about how students learn science and engineering shows that teaching strategies that motivate …

[more]

Discipline-Based Education Research: Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering

The National Science Foundation funded a synthesis study on the status, contributions, and future direction of discipline-based education research (DBER) in physics, biological sciences, geosciences, and chemistry. DBER combines knowledge of …

[more]

Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers

Community colleges play an important role in starting students on the road to engineering careers, but students often face obstacles in transferring to four-year educational institutions to continue their education. Enhancing the Community …

[more]

Colloquy on Minority Males in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

On August 8-12, 2010 the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), convened the Colloquy on Minority Males in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), following the release of …

[more]

Improving Measurement of Productivity in Higher Education

Higher education is a linchpin of the American economy and society: teaching and research at colleges and universities contribute significantly to the nation’s economic activity, both directly and through their impact on future growth; federal …

[more]

Adapting to a Changing World–Challenges and Opportunities in Undergraduate Physics Education

Adapting to a Changing World was commissioned by the National Science Foundation to examine the present status of undergraduate physics education, including the state of physics education research, and, most importantly, to develop a …

[more]

Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults

Young adulthood – ages approximately 18 to 26 – is a critical period of development with long-lasting implications for a person’s economic security, health and well-being. Young adults are key contributors to the nation’s workforce and military …

[more]

Research Universities: Higher Education’s Role in Our Nation’s Prosperity

Today, Americans are feeling the gradual and subtle effects of globalization that challenge the economic and strategic leadership that the United States has enjoyed since World War II. A substantial portion of our workforce finds itself in direct competition for jobs with lower-wage workers around the globe, and leading-edge scientific and engineering work is being accomplished in many parts of the world. The National Academy of Sciences has produced a number of reports that examine this problem and make recommendations to enhance the science and technology enterprise so that the United States can successfully compete, prosper, and be secure in the global community of the 21st century.

The newly released Research Universities and the Future of America presents critically important strategies for ensuring that our nation’s research universities contribute strongly to America’s prosperity, security, and national goals. Widely considered the best in the world, our nation’s research universities today confront significant financial pressures, important advances in technology, a changing demographic landscape, and increased international competition. This report provides a course of action for ensuring our universities continue to produce the knowledge, ideas, and talent the United States needs to be a global leader in the 21st century.

Research Universities and the Future of America examines trends in university finance, prospects for improving university operations, opportunities for deploying technology, and improvement in the regulation of higher education institutions. It also explores ways to improve pathways to graduate education, take advantage of opportunities to increase student diversity, and realign doctoral education for the careers new doctorates will follow. In the first video below, members of the authoring committee share their insights. The second video is a recording of the release event, with more in-depth perspectives from the committee.


Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads explores the role of diversity in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce and its value in keeping America innovative and competitive. The video below is of the report release event.

Both of these titles follow up on the findings of the landmark study Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. Published in 2007, that congressionally requested report made four recommendations along with 20 implementation actions that federal policy-makers should take to create high-quality jobs and focus new science and technology efforts to maintain America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace. A podcast and videos of Congressional hearing about this report are available:


These reports and others are available to read or download at no charge at our website.

Research Universities and the Future of America

Download Free PDF

Research Universities and the Future of America: Ten Breakthrough Actions Vital to Our Nation’s Prosperity and Security227 pages | Paperback | Price: $44.10Research Universities and the Future of America presents critically important strategies for ensuring that our nation’s research universities contribute strongly to America’s prosperity, security, and national goals. Widely considered the best… [more]

Research Universities and the Future of America

Download Free PDF

Research Universities and the Future of America: Ten Breakthrough Actions Vital to Our Nation’s Prosperity and Security: Summary24 pages | Not for SaleResearch Universities and the Future of America presents critically important strategies for ensuring that our nation’s research universities contribute strongly to America’s prosperity, security, and national goals. Widely considered the best… [more]

Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation

Download Free PDF

Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads286 pages | Paperback | Price: $36.00In order for the United States to maintain the global leadership and competitiveness in science and technology that are critical to achieving national goals, we must invest in research, encourage innovation, and grow a strong and talented science and… [more]

Rising Above the Gathering Storm

Download Free PDF

Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future592 pages | Not for SaleIn a world where advanced knowledge is widespread and low-cost labor is readily available, U.S. advantages in the marketplace and in science and technology have begun to erode. A comprehensive and coordinated federal effort is urgently needed to bolster U.S…. [more]

Rising Above the Gathering Storm Two Years Later

Download Free PDF

Rising Above the Gathering Storm Two Years Later: Accelerating Progress Toward a Brighter Economic Future. Summary of a Convocation24 pages | Not for SaleRising Above the Gathering Storm Two Years Later: Accelerating Progress Toward a Brighter Economic Future summarizes a convocation held in April 2008 to commemorate the release of the original Gathering Storm report. The convocation featured… [more]

Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited

Download Free PDF

Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5104 pages | Paperback | Price: $17.95In the face of so many daunting near-term challenges, U.S. government and industry are letting the crucial strategic issues of U.S. competitiveness slip below the surface. Five years ago, the National Academies prepared Rising Above the Gathering… [more]

Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited

Download Free PDF

Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5: Condensed Version16 pages | Not for SaleIn 2005 the National Academies released Rising Above the Gathering Storm, a book focused on the ability of all Americans to compete for quality jobs in the evolving global economy. Rising Above the… [more]

Is America Falling Off the Flat Earth?

Download Free PDF

Is America Falling Off the Flat Earth?92 pages | Not for SaleThe aviation and telecommunication revolutions have conspired to make distance increasingly irrelevant. An important consequence of this is that US citizens, accustomed to competing with their neighbors for jobs, now must compete with candidates from all… [more]

Take 5: Top Gifts for K-12 Educators

Got educators on your holiday shopping list? Take five and check out our top gift ideas. NAP books and merchandise make thoughtful gifts for thinking people.

Successful K-12 STEM Education

Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (STEM) are fundamental aspects of everyone’s lives as citizens, consumers, parents, and workers. Providing all students with access to high-quality education in STEM is important to their futures and that of…
Details

Surrounded by Science

Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments

Practitioners in informal science settings–museums, after-school programs, science and technology centers, media enterprises, libraries, aquariums, zoos, and botanical gardens–are interested in finding out what learning looks like, how to measure it, and…
Details

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms

What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators, teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, and school administrators need to know…
Details

Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations

Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations

At a time when scientific and technological competence is vital to the nation’s future, the weak performance of U.S. students in science reflects the uneven quality of current science education.  Although young children come to school with innate…
Details

Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education

Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education

In recent years there have been increasing efforts to use accountability systems based on large-scale tests of students as a mechanism for improving student achievement. The federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is a prominent example of such an effort, but…
Details