PCAST Releases Report on STEM Ed in Undergraduate Education
February 15, 2012
by Paula Skedsvold
Since taking office, the President has consistently pushed for improvements in STEM education (traditionally defined) in the U.S. In April 2009, during remarks at the National Academy of Sciences, he stated: "American students will move from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math over the next decade."
The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) has offered assessments of the challenges and opportunities at various points along the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education pathway and recently released the report, Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
In this latest report, PCAST cites economic analyses indicating that "if the United States is to maintain its historic preeminence in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)—and gain the social, economic, and national security benefits that come with such preeminence—then it must produce approximately 1 million more STEM professionals over the next decade...." Concluding that the goal can be accomplished by retaining more STEM majors, PCAST provides a strategy with five overarching recommendations and various action items.
The five recommendations are:
- Catalyze widespread adoption of empirically validated teaching practices.
- Advocate and provide support for replacing standard laboratory courses with discovery-based research courses.
- Launch a national experiment in postsecondary mathematics education to address the math preparation gap.
- Encourage partnerships among stakeholders to diversify pathways to STEM careers.
- 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.
The President’s commitment can be seen in his request for $3 billion in FY 2013 for STEM Ed programs across the Federal government, including new monies at NSF and the Department of Education.