INTEREST IN MATH AND SCIENCE CAREERS SPARKED IN CLASSES WHERE LEARNING IS DIRECTED BY STUDENTS AND SUPPORTED BY TECHNOLOGY
Just Nine Percent of Student Describe Their Most Recent Math and Science Classes This Way; More than 40 percent Still Describe Traditional Format
Nearly one-third of high school students who experience math and science classrooms where instruction is led by teachers, learning is directed by students and where technology is used to support both, express a strong interest in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career, according to the latest findings from the 2011 Speak Up survey. Nationally, just nine percent of students described their most recent math or science class this way.
Only 20 percent of students in traditional classrooms, where the instruction is teacher directed and the use of technology is limited, expressed the same interest in STEM careers.
“This is the first time we’ve noticed this correlation between the type of math and science instruction and the students’ interest in STEM careers,” said Julie Evans. “For a nation concerned with developing the next generations of scientists, engineers and innovators, this finding should raise some eyebrows.”
When asked to describe their most recent math or science class, the majority of middle and high school students chose one of these three classroom paradigms:
- Traditional class with teacher-directed instruction – lectures, textbook assignments, group projects and labs (43 percent)
- Traditional class with teacher-directed instruction as in #1, but with some technology used to support instruction (33 percent)
- Traditional class with a mix of teacher-directed instruction and student-directed learning and the use of technology tools to support both teachers and students (9 percent)
“For three-quarters of today’s students in grades 6-12, math and science class is still much like it was when we adults were in school: predominately teacher-centered with little or no opportunities for students to direct their own learning, at their own pace, with their own tools,” said Evans.
“Think about that in contrast to what is being called for by the new Common Core Standards for math. The Common Core approach is based on teachers laying out a specific task and inviting the students to dig in and solve the problem using appropriate tools and resources,” explain Evans. “If our schools are able to implement this type of teaching and learning, the potential for interest in math and science should grow.”
These findings can be found in a Speak Up 2012 report, Mapping a Personalized Learning Journey – K-12 Students and Parents Connects the Dots with Digital Learning.
This year’s survey findings also show:
- Significant increase in students’ mobile Internet access outside of school with more than half of all students (urban, suburban and rural) reporting access through 3G/4G mobile devices.
- Middle and high school students’ access to a personal tablet device doubled from 2010-2011 (26 percent of middle school and 21 percent of high school students now report personal access to a tablet).
- Students are adopting technologies and then adapting them to support their own self-directed learning (tweeting about academic topics, tutoring other students online, using mobile apps to organize school work, used Facebook as a collaboration tool for classroom projects, etc.).
The 2011 online survey – completed by more than 416,000 K-12 students, parents, teachers, librarians and administrators – offers the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered input on education and technology from those ‘on the ground’ in the schools.