Associates LLC – February 22, 2012
7, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
released the report, "Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional
College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and
Mathematics (STEM).” This report on
undergraduate education is a follow-up to an earlier PCAST report on K-12 STEM education that was released in September
2010, and both are centered on the goal of creating a STEM-capable
workforce. The new report focuses on the first two years of undergraduate
learning, which PCAST considers a crucial step in the STEM pipeline.
The recommendations are:
- Catalyze the adoption of empirically-validated teaching
techniques through the alignment of incentives for faculty, the expansion
of disciplinary models that prepare new faculty in research-based STEM
teaching, and the creation of a new grant program for institutional
transformation. The report also recommends that the National
Academies create metrics to evaluate STEM undergraduate teaching and learning.
- Create new research courses for first and second year
students to involve students in research early and move away from
"cookbook” experiments. Scale-up model research and design courses
and change federal rules to allow the expansion of opportunities for
students in faculty research laboratories.
- Engage mathematicians and scientists in a national
postsecondary mathematics education experiment to improve math education
and ensure that early math courses are connected to science learning
- Encourage stakeholder partnerships to diversify
pathways to STEM careers, including connecting high school students to
summer STEM learning opportunities, strengthening pathways from two to
four year institutions, and catalyzing the creation of public-private
partnerships to advance STEM learning that establishes industry-relevant
- Create a Presidential council to provide leadership on
undergraduate STEM education. This council would involve various
stakeholders from academia, business, foundations, and scientific
societies to inspire changes to undergraduate education and make
recommendations on specific federal activities.
response to the PCAST report, the President announced new initiatives in the fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget request to support the
- Widening Implementation and Demonstration of
Evidence-based Reforms (WIDER): $20 million would be provided (a 150
percent increase over FY 2012) to increase the use of evidence-based
undergraduate STEM education practices through institutional reforms.
- Expeditions in Education (E2):
NSF would establish a new program E2 to connect EHR with NSF
research directorates and offices to "integrate, leverage, and expand STEM
education research and development” with NSF research activities. E2
would be supported at $49 million in FY 2013 with a focus on
undergraduate education, sustainability, and cyberlearning.
- K-16 Math Education: NSF will work with
the Department of Education to develop an "evidence-based initiative to improve
K-16 mathematics and knowledge building.” In FY 2013, the Department of
Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Education and NSF’s Directorate for
Education and Human Resources (EHR) will each contribute $30 million, with
EHR’s support through the Discovery Research K-12 and Transforming
Undergraduate Education in STEM (TUES) programs. Funding for other TUES
activities would also be increased.
- STEM Teacher Training: $80 million would
be provided through the Department of Education for a new competitive program as
part of the Effective Teachers and Leaders program. The new funding would
support STEM teacher preparation programs, such as those modeled on the
University of Texas UTEACH program that allows undergraduate students to earn a
STEM bachelors degree and a teaching certificate at the same time.
The full PCAST report can be
found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast-engage-to-excel-v11.pdf.
including a shorter fact sheet and a webcast of the report release can be found
Information on the White House
commitments announced in response to the report are available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/pcast-related_initiatives_fact_sheet.pdf.