Issues in STEM Education And How You Can Improve It
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education is becoming increasingly popular. However, students' performance in STEM subjects remains rather low, and only a minority of students go on to study these subjects later on. It is therefore important to arouse students' interest in these subjects at an early age. Reforming education in the STEM disciplines is necessary for both improving student learning and achieving fair outcomes.
In STEM education, pupils often focus on a narrow range of procedural skills, regardless of whether they are working individually, in groups, or using technology. Teacher-centred instruction can result in low motivation and interest in STEM.Students will feel that their knowledge is less valuable when STEM learning is primarily concerned with cognitive engagement for getting the right answer. It is difficult to switch from teacher-centred to student-centred instruction, and the factors that influence faculty choices are numerous.
Here are some tips for promoting STEM education among students and for creating a more student-centred environment:
- Escape rooms – Educational escape rooms are becoming increasingly popular in STEM classrooms. They encourage the playful learning of new subjects and skills as well as the repetition, deepening, and transfer of existing knowledge.Additionally, the students are educated on the effects of their own behaviours, on themselves, and others. The skills of self-confidence, social interaction, and appreciation of different viewpoints are also enhanced.
It is also a motivating, student-centred teaching method, in which learners manage their own learning. During a game, the teacher acts as an observer. In this way, learners independently develop their own ideas, consider appropriate strategies, generate solutions, pursue them actively, and evaluate their impact and effectiveness. This type of student-activated, playful approach fosters communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking skills, and can help motivate and engage students.
Besides escape rooms, other formats have been developed, such as escape books, augmented reality escape rooms, and digital escape games.
- Collaborating with STEM professionals – Lectures are a common way to get STEM professionals in the classroom.This method can reach a high volume of students. By making a personal connection to a STEM career field, students are more likely to consider it themselves.
As teachers cover new topics, STEM visits supply support. This has been found to be especially effective in the lower grades, where teachers must often cover material that is outside their scope of training.
Students who are aware of STEM career opportunities and, more importantly, better understand what it means to work in this field, have a greater chance of choosing to pursue these fields in the future. In addition to understanding STEM careers, having professionals in the classroom provides students with real-world answers to why what they are learning is important.
- Parental awareness –Since children spend, on average, 80% of their waking hours with their parents (LIFE Center, 2005), parents play a vital role in their children's learning. A child's attitude toward science is shaped at an early age (5–11), when they are more likely to spend time with their parents. Through homework help, attendance at school events, and influencing career paths, parental involvement positively affects children's educational success. The involvement of parents in their children's education has also been linked to student self-efficacy, mastery orientation (the perception that students have control over their own educational outcomes) and engagement in school (Bandura, 1994).
- Small class environment – The relevance of small class teaching for STEM education can be seen in Maker Education, which provides students with opportunities for design and engineering practices, emphasises learning through making, and inspires students' interest in STEM. While STEM education places a high priority on problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which are both essential to higher-order thinking, small class sizes supply the best conditions for developing creative and innovative abilities in students.
It is necessary to shift from traditional large class/whole class teaching to a more student-centred and constructivist approach for small class teaching. When class sizes are smaller, teachers can spend more time with individual students and engage them in student-centred activities.
- Connect the classroom to the real world – In STEM fields, people solve the world's problems, so it's important to integrate these solutions into the curriculum. STEM helps students learn skills that will be at once useful in the real world, which is one of the most important things about it.
STEM education lends itself to project-based learning, therefore incorporating group projects is key to its successful implementation. In addition to helping students explore real-world problems, these projects also give them the chance to interact socially and learn collaborative skills. By taking part in a project, students can develop skills and apply their knowledge. They spend an extended period of time researching and creating a solution to a problem. STEM projects could include developing an app or creating a model of a bridge.
- Evaluation – Lastly, it is crucial to assess students during STEM lessons. With STEM's complexity, weekly reflection, and changes (if necessary) can make the classroom a stronger environment. Exams and short tests do not generally fit with such a practical approach to learning. Using formative assessments to check on students' progress throughout the year is much more effective, as they supply ongoing feedback designed to improve students and their learning.
Formative assessments are also useful for identifying students' strengths and weaknesses, which enables them to pinpoint areas that need improvement. For example, constructing a prototype for a project or creating a research proposal are examples of formative assessments.
Tips like these are only a fraction of the countless possibilities within the field. Overall, it is worth encouraging students to take part in everything STEM has to offer because they might even end up having a successful career in STEM. It may not be easy to inspire future generations, but it pays off in a big way and is one of the most important things we can do for the future.