CREATING MORE ROBUST STEM TRANSFER PATHWAYS: NATIONAL CONTEXT

No single data source provides a comprehensive estimate, but the available evidence suggests two-year to four-year college and university transfer in STEM fields is small relative to the need for a greater number of STEM-educated citizens, workers, and professionals in the United States. The barriers and potential solutions to increasing access through transfer to STEM bachelor’s and graduate degrees for transfer students are the subject of this report. This consideration takes place in a broader national context. In May 2010, as mentioned above, the National Science Board (NSB) issued its comprehensive report entitled Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators: Identifying and Developing Our National Human Capital, and in 2011, the National Academies issued Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads. The three keystone recommendations of the Next Generation report (National Science Board, 2010) and several of its policy actions deserve particular attention when examining the evolving relationships between community colleges and four-year colleges and universities for the purpose of broadening STEM transfer pathways. These are

   (1) NSB Keystone Recommendation #1: Provide opportunities for excellence

    (2) NSB Keystone Recommendation #2: Cast a wide net
(a) Policy Action: Improve talent assessment systems
(b) Policy Action: Improve identification of overlooked abilities

   (3) NSB Keystone Recommendation #3: Foster a supportive ecosystem
(a) Policy Action: Professional development for educators in STEM pedagogy

These particular recommendations and policy actions, excerpted from among others in the NSB’s Next Generation (2010) report, are highlighted here because the challenges of (1) providing quality science and mathematics teaching to all students (i.e., “opportunities for excellence”), (2) improving assessment and talent identification, and (3) creating supportive ecosystems through professional development for STEM educators are particularly central to the challenge of creating more robust STEM transfer pathways. They are also essential in light of the urgency articulated in the Crossroads report (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, 2011) to substantially increase the racial-ethnic diversity of participation in STEM fields. The dimensions of these problems are cultural as well as structural; yet prevailing attempts to improve transfer, such as articulation agreements, curriculum alignment through common course numbering, and policies guaranteeing transfer of credits, have most often been structural. However, to improve



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