Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel
Click for next page ( 162

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement

Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 161
OF ~ ~ #id feanne L. Narum, Director Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) INTRODUCTION From experience with institutions active within Project Kaleidoscope, we offer recommendations that reflect our conviction that "doing science" in a research-rich environment is a powerfully attractive mechanism to motivate students to persist in the study and practice of science, technol- ogy, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Doing science as scien- tists do science puzzling out a problem, exploring solutions, collaborat- ing with colleagues, linking to the work of others, communicating results is a transforming experience. It is a critical first step in drawing students into science and technology fields. Thus expanding and enhanc- ing research opportunities for students is the logical point from which to address the concerns of this summit. We are also convinced that research experiences within and beyond the campus must be embedded in the total academic experience for each student, not included as an extra or an add-on. This becomes a complicating factor in a national effort to attract more students into SAT careers. It requires a combi- nation of (1) faculty with the right expertise and commitment, (2) an aca- demic program designed to engage students as scientists from their first day iProject Kaleidoscope (PKAL) is an informal national alliance involved in the growing effort to strengthen undergraduate programs in science, technology, engineering, and math- ematics. Since 1989, PKAL has sponsored 150 workshops and other events, bringing faculty, administrators, and other STEM leaders together to focus on what works, and to outline agendas for individual and collective action.

OCR for page 161
PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT through graduation, (3) a physical infrastructure that accommodates such research-rich learning experiences, and (4) a supportive community beyond the campus. All four of these dimensions must be in place. A second complicating factor is that the SAT world the context for do- ing science is changing rapidly. This places heavy demands on all stake- holder communities (government, university/college, industry) to keep how science is learned in sync with how science is practiced. This is somewhat more difficult for predominantly undergraduate institutions than research universities from the faculty perspective, but all academic institutions are faced with the challenge to keep the academic program and the physical in- frastructure up to date and serving 21st century science and technology. Data from National Science Foundation (NSF)2 suggest almost 60 per- cent of current faculty are 45 years and older, thus with 20-25 years of service ahead of them and 15 years from graduate school behind them. Employment in S&E occupations is expected to increase about three times faster than the rate for all occupations.3 A third factor to consider is the educational distribution of the S&E workforce. Nearly 50 percent of those in nonacademic S&E occupations have bachelor's degrees, with 20 percent having master's degrees. Thus the key intervention point in addressing pressing current needs in the nation's S&E workforce is at the undergraduate level. According to Sci- ence Indicators, in 1998, liberal arts colleges and comprehensive universi- ties (masters I&II) graduated 38 percent of the total number of baccalaure- ate degrees in STEM fields (78,700 out of 205,330 total). The experiences of colleges and universities active in PKAL over the past decade suggest that insufficiencies in the scientific workforce at the national level can be addressed, in the context of a greater focus on student learning and motivation. Many of these institutions are now graduating more than 30 percent of their majors in STEM fields. How they have achieved those num- bers can inform the development of a broader national agenda. Based on those experiences, we present an answer to the question: If we assume that a shortage exists, what are your recommendations to miti- gate the shortage? RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Expand and support collaborative efforts between research labora- tories in business and industry; government agencies at the local, state, and national level; and colleges and universities that are closely integrated Characteristics of Doctoral Scientists and Engineers in the United States: 1999 (NSF 02-328~. 3Science and Engineering Indicators 2002. Volume 1. NSB-02-1.

OCR for page 161
to the academic experience of students, the scholarly responsibilities of faculty, and the needs of our nation, including: Summer-length research projects to be undertaken by teams of un- dergraduate students and faculty (and perhaps high school science teach- ers) on a campus or in an industrial or government research lab Experiential projects such as "clinics" and service learning in which students solve a real-world problem for a business or government agency, working with faculty on their home campus Summer or sabbatical research opportunities for faculty to keep abreast of new directions in the field, particularly midcareer faculty some years away from graduate school leagues. Sharing data and instrumentation from major research centers with the undergraduate community for the analysis of that data on site or elec- tronically An array of opportunities that link the undergraduate research community to global science and technology issues A national electronic catalog of undergraduate research opportuni- ties (for students and faculty) in laboratories in federal and state agencies, business and industry, and other major research centers Regional advisory groups of government/university/industry col- In developing a broader set of collaborative opportunities, the follow- ing must be recognized: The unique contributions of different types of educational institu- tions (ranging from K-12 schools, community colleges, and liberal arts colleges to large research universities). Failure to fully explore the poten- tial of each type of institution by industry and community leads to the underutilization of the nation's talents and resources. Particular attention should be given to community colleges, as they enroll 47 percent of the nation's first-time freshman, as well as to the institutions with historic and current strength in these fields. Existing models of best practices in government/industry/aca- demic collaborations. Recommendations from the many recent reports addressing this issue.4 4U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century. 2001. "The inadequacies of our systems of research and education pose a greater threat to U.S. national security over the next quar- ter century than any potential conventional war that we might imagine. American national leadership must understand these deficiencies as threats to national security. If we do not

OCR for page 161
PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT 2. We further recommend coherent efforts at the campus, regional, state, and national level to establish an environment supportive of the first two recommendations, including consistent and targeted support for the following: Ensuring that spaces for research and research-training in the un- dergraduate setting can accommodate new technologies and interdisci- plinary approaches to learning, teaching, and research in STEM fields Scholarships and other opportunities such as mentoring programs for students from groups currently underrepresented in the study and practice of science so they can be active members of the research commu- nities described in recommendation #1 Scholarships and other opportunities for undergraduate students and faculty to make global connections through their study of STEM fields Focusing on admissions policies that serve to attract and retain graduates of two-year colleges in baccalaureate programs Incorporating career counseling into the undergraduate STEM pro- gram Programs that encourage and enhance collaborative efforts to use information technologies to build and sustain a 21st century research-rich learning environment These recommendations are based on the experiences of institutions succeeding in attracting students to the study of STEM fields and in moti- invest heavily and wisely in rebuilding these two core strengths, America will be incapable of maintaining its global position long into the 21st century." Analysis to Action. National Research Council. 1996. "Advisory councils from industry can help shape educational programs in colleges and universities. The education of future tech- nicians highlights a major challenge facing higher education: placing content in context. Student and faculty internships in industry, industrial involvement in designing and teach- ing college courses, and cooperative projects in undergraduate education all promote con- tinuous interaction between educational and industrial partners. An emphasis on flexibility and core competencies would help ensure that institutions of higher education balance broad education with specific training. Hands-on learning, project-oriented courses, distance learn- ing, and the delivery of courses at industrial sites would tie learning to the application of knowledge. Inquiry capabilities, including problem solving, critical thinking, communica- tion, and teamwork, are all basic to lifelong technical careers." "Faculty members and departments are responding to the new needs of the workplace with a variety of innovations. Close links between the offerings of different departments are enhancing understanding of the connections among subjects. Majors in some departments are doing senior projects grounded in real-world problems that instill skills they will need in their careers.

OCR for page 161
vating them to persist and pursue careers in these fields. These are learn- ing environments in which students are given responsibility to shape their own learning in a research- rich environment; come to understand that what they are learning in the classroom and lab has some relevance for the world beyond the campus and thus can be a foundation for a career upon graduation; and are expected to succeed and given appropriate support to do so; have repeated and persistent opportunities, from the very first day through capstone courses for majors, to have hands-on engagement with doing science as scientists do science. These are also places where significant investments have been made: In faculty, so they keep abreast of o advances in their scholarly field, connecting student learning to those advances o emerging technologies and pedagogies that enhance under- graduate learning In an academic program, so that it o connects to real-world issues and problems o reflects contemporary science and technology, specifically its interdisciplinarity In the physical infrastructure, so that o state-of-the art instrumentation can be accommodated o interdisciplinary programs can be nurtured o faculty and student research can be enhanced. BACKGROUND Attention to building and sustaining a strong undergraduate STEM community has been on the national agenda since the mid-1980s. Early attention to this effort emerged from a perception that America's interest would be served better if the number of students pursuing graduate pro- grams were increased. This single objective drove the work of academic leaders and stakeholders as they shaped policies and budgets, facilities and faculties. But even then, as important as that work was, concern about numbers of coming generations of Ph.D. professionals was linked to con- cerns about how undergraduate STEM programs were serving the na- tional interest more broadly.

OCR for page 161
PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT Recent reforms, building on earlier efforts, have led to profound changes in the undergraduate learning environment. In addition to pre- paring the next generation of Ph.D. professionals, colleges and universi- ties now recognize the responsibility to offer programs that motivate stu- dents to consider a wide range of careers that require scientific and technological capabilities, including that of a K-12 mathematics/science teacher. Perhaps most important, academic institutions now accept their responsibility to ensure all their graduates are science-savvy, ready for responsible citizenship in a world increasingly dominated by science and technology. CONCLUSION The need to increase the nation's technically trained workforce has an immediacy that should not override the continuing and critical need for first-rate undergraduate STEM programs grounded in the traditional lib- eral arts. Such programs as they challenge all students to be respectful of diversity and to engage as creative problem-solvers, critical thinkers, intelligent communicators, effective collaborators, and lifelong learners- are solid grounding for a career as a STEM professional, whether in busi- ness, industry, or academe. It is the creative energy of the innovators with such skills that will drive our nation's prosperity over the long haul, coupled with a public that understands the role of science and technology in shaping the future of our society.