What Is A STEM Degree?

Specialized curriculum prepares educators to teach complex subjects.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are core subjects that are known commonly as STEM. The disciplines of STEM are gaining emphasis in the modern classroom as part of a nationwide and global effort to foster the academic success of students in these subjects. At the center of this trend is the preparedness of current teachers to meet the demands of a complex classroom that focuses on STEM success.

In order to reach their students more effectively, teachers are continuing their education to acquire certifications in STEM subjects. STEM-focused professional development, including STEM degrees, helps teachers gain a deeper understanding of these complex subjects. Pursuing STEM certification promotes valuable classroom skills and creates a more engaging environment for teaching young learners.

So, what is a STEM degree? Aurora University Online offers current teachers three distinct educational tracks for earning a degree focused on the education of STEM subjects. The degree programs include:

Each program has been uniquely designed to fit the constructs of today’s educational environment. In order to support academic outcomes, program developers have revised testing standards as well as enhanced curriculum development and the use of integrated technology. Faculty members understand the unique challenges of teaching educators. Aurora University Online faculty members strive to deliver a comprehensive and interactive learning approach to complex subjects so that students are prepared for the STEM classroom. Degrees in the STEM fields deliver advanced pedagogical methods for current teachers who look to improve or expand their knowledge of these complex subjects for the purpose of teaching students effectively and promoting a passion for STEM learning.

Facing a STEM Shortage

A lack of qualified teachers to fill the need for STEM educators is among many issues in today’s educational system. The National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for What is a STEM Degrethe 21st Century predicts that, nationwide, public schools will require 240,000 new teachers of secondary science and mathematics over the next decade in order to meet STEM needs. These educators will help the nation to meet higher educational standards and, consequently, become a better global competitor. However, a demand for new teachers is not the only strain on schools that look to improve their STEM offerings. Currently, some practicing science and mathematics teachers lack the qualifications to be effective in a STEM classroom. The National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century reports that 25 percent of high school mathematics teachers and 20 percent of high school science teachers lack the academic background or credentials to teach these complex subjects. Also, it is estimated that the nation’s public schools lose nearly 30,000 STEM teachers annually to retirement, layoffs and attrition. The somber reality is that many school systems lack the personnel to replace these instructors.

Because of this deficit, educational systems are placing greater importance on STEM degrees as a means of securing a new workforce of qualified science and mathematics teachers who will bolster student achievement levels and increase the global STEM ranking of the United States.

The State of STEM

Presently, throughout the nation’s educational landscape, student achievement levels are less than stellar. Scores from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found that less than one-third of tested eighth graders demonstrated proficiency in science while just over one-third passed the math portion of the assessment. By grade 12 only one-fifth of students tested as proficient or better. Similarly, the nation’s post-secondary STEM success is underwhelming. A report published by the National Academics found that only 15 percent of U.S. college students are enrolled in engineering or science programs.

The nation’s STEM deficiency is causing cumulative effects on the future of the U.S. economy. Also, the global standing of the U.S. as an innovator and leader of technology has diminished, and community and business leaders are noticing. Leaders of industry and community are among those pushing for higher academic standards for students as well as more strict requirements for the nation’s STEM teachers. Accordingly, the current administration is funding efforts that empower teachers to lead in STEM education. Assistance is available for professional development opportunities, such as continued education, networks for peer-to-peer communication and best practices, mentoring programs and more.

A STEM degree can give current teachers advanced knowledge, skills and credentials they need to be effective in the classroom and academic landscape.