STEM Education through a Different Lens

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Current STEM education focuses predominantly on technically specialized knowledge and skills. Both practitioners and academicians recognize the importance of those non-technical skills. Additionally, many studies are limited in their theoretical justification. More significantly, limited empirical evidence is provided. This study is a qualitative investigation of students’ and practitioners’ perceptions on the most critical skills for STEM graduates’ success through interview. There are alignment in most skills identified by both the industry and student respondents. The identified skills generally fall under four categories of soft skills, technical skills, experience, and managerial skills. Some highlights of data analysis include: (1) Science and engineering professionals seemed to have higher expectations for hands-on work experience and exposures; (2) Technology professionals, indicated a higher expectation in soft skills from incoming talent, and (3) Most training investments made by companies were more focused on the technical skill, which may indicate a higher degree of expectation for soft skill development in College. Therefore, it is concluded that traditional STEM should be expanded and improved to encompass more comprehensive skills. Especially, partnerships between industry and college should be increased to develop curriculum to make STEM students better prepared for work.


Purdue Polytechnic Institute Summit


West Lafayette, IN