Are we supporting STEM teachers adequately?
A recent study on STEM education in North American undergraduate programs noted that much learning is still focused on lectures (55%). Another 27% feature more interactive lectures (involving some group work and responding to multiple choice questions with handheld clickers). Finally, 18% were based on student centered learning where the heavy focus is on group work and discussions.
Based on past research we have understood that the lecturing style is among the least effective for teaching and engaging students.
Student-centered strategies improve students’ learning and attitudes toward science says the study’s lead author. They not only understand it better, but they also appreciate science more. They’re not as scared of it, and they engage more easily with it.
However, switching from lectures to the more highly thought of student centered learning is difficult because of many factors including
- Class sizes and layouts
- Lack of training for teachers on different methods
So, we need to pay attention to structural impediments to our STEM education success and we should be very clear that professional development of teachers is an ongoing need worthy of investment.