What Works: Lessons from Science

Aggressively documenting and telling stories of STEM programs having demonstrable success in strengthening student learning in mathematics and science is a collective responsibility. The “Education Forum” in Science has presented three essays describing well-established and carefully-assessed programs that illustrate creative solutions to pressing needs outlined in Rising Above the Gathering Storm.
  • 31 March 2006: Preparing Minority Scientists and Engineers
    Michael F. Summers and Freeman A. Hrabowski III
    Results of the undergraduate program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County that involves mentorship, summer and other workshops, and targeting high-achieving high school students that improves participation of underrepresented minorities in science.
  • 26 May 2006: Planning Early for Careers in Science
    Robert H. Tai, Christine Qi Liu, Adam V. Maltese, Xitao Fan
    Report of research at the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia investigating whether science-related career expectations of early adolescent students predicted the concentrations of their baccalaureate degrees earned years later.
  • 28 July 2006: Who is Responsible for Preparing Science Teachers?
    Valerie Otero, Noah Finkelstein, Richard McCray, Steven Pollock
    Results of a program at the University of Colorado at Boulder that involves students in the transformation of science courses, raising the visibility of science teaching as a career and produces K-12 teachers well-versed in science.

The significance of these three stories is on several levels. For one, they each illustrate how precisely and rigorously contemporary leaders in STEM reform are assessing and evaluating the impact of their policies, practices and programs, in the context of addressing pressing national needs. They anticipate and answer the persisting question, “how do you know it works?”

For another, they reinforce the sense of the new NSB Commission that the problem is a one of “systems:” whether the system recognizes the importance of the math experience in grades 7 & 8 to later career decisions; the importance of integrating efforts to improve undergraduate education with efforts to recruit and prepare future K-12 science teachers; and/or the importance of mentoring, at all levels, as an approach that increases persistence of minority students in the study of STEM fields.