A STEM degree concentrates on the core subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 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 in STEM subjects. STEM-focused professional development, including STEM degrees, helps teachers gain a deeper understanding of these complex subjects. Pursuing a STEM degree promotes valuable classroom skills and creates a more engaging environment for teaching young learners.
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. New teachers of secondary science and mathematics 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 academic background or credentials to teach these complex subjects and be effective in a STEM classroom. The nation’s schools also lose STEM teachers annually to retirement, layoffs and attrition. The somber reality is that many school systems lack the personnel to replace these instructors.
Mathematics is a particular area of concern, according to National Council of Teachers of Mathematics President Matt Larson. “Could K–12 math classrooms fail to have students engaged and learning the mathematics content and practices necessary to advance in the curriculum, but have integrated some technology, engineering, coding activities, or connections to science and be called a ‘STEM Program’?” Math classrooms may be helping students learn how to build bridges or program robots, but fail to develop a deep understanding of math learning standards. Students should be equipped to pursue a postsecondary STEM major and career, and “no number of fun activities or shiny technology will overcome this fatal shortcoming,” Larson wrote.
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.
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The State of STEM
Presently, throughout the nation’s educational landscape, student achievement levels are less than stellar. Scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress found that 34 percent of tested eighth-graders demonstrated proficiency in science while 33 percent passed the math portion of the assessment. By grade 12, no more than 25 percent of students tested as proficient or better (22 percent in science and 25 percent in math).
The nation’s STEM deficiency is causing cumulative effects on the future of the U.S. economy. Also, the global standing of the United States 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.
A STEM degree can give current teachers advanced knowledge, skills and credentials they need to be effective in the classroom and academic landscape.
Enhancing STEM Education
Aurora University Online offers current teachers an educational track for earning a degree focused on STEM education.
The online Master of Arts in Mathematics Education program deepens teachers’ understanding of mathematical concepts and their usage throughout the K-12 system spectrum, while developing the mathematics content and pedagogy needed to excite and instill a passion for math in the next generation of learners. Secondary teachers who seek to increase their knowledge of STEM content will be introduced to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for mathematics and the practices associated with them.
This 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.