Title

STEM Education Redefined

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

2017

Publication Title

Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education

Abstract

STEM education is typically defined as a curriculum that covers the academic areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. In 2006, a congressional research service report suggested that there is a growing concern that the USA is lacking in its preparation of students, teachers and practitioner in STEM related fields (Kuenzi, Matthews, & Mangan, 2006). A study by (Salzman, 2013), narrates how industry leaders and policy makers seem to be of the belief that the United States is in a high tech talent crisis and that there is a shortage of graduates in STEM fields. However, the study reveals that the Nation graduates more than two times as many STEM students each year in comparison to those who find jobs in STEM fields. Large investments on STEM education promotion are damaging to the engineering and science fields. Macilwan, suggests that large investments flood the market with STEM graduates, as it reduces the competition for their services and thereby reduces their wage rates (Macilwain, 2013). Therefore, the question to be answered is: how we find an appropriate balance between maintaining the high value and demand for STEM graduates, while also ensuring that STEM graduates are successful in finding employment. The authors of this paper conducted a preliminary qualitative study to identify some of the critical skills required and training investments for success in STEM related disciplines. Following the preliminary study, the authors have developed a hypothesis that STEM education should have a strategic focus in the enhancement and development of a redefined STEM: Soft Skills, Technical Skills, Experience and Managerial skills. Future studies should also be conducted to further explore and verify the validity of the factors of a redefined STEM education as proposed by this preliminary study. The authors therefore propose that the much needed balance for the demand of STEM graduates and ensuring their success in finding and succeeding at jobs, may be found in the rethinking of STEM education with a strategic focus on the redefinition of STEM education.

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