Did you have a teacher who made learning science, technology, engineering, and math interesting? Were you encouraged by a teacher’s enthusiasm for your proficiency in STEM subjects? Did you tell yourself or were you told that you weren’t good at STEM subjects?
According to a study by Microsoft, 57 percent of students attending STEM colleges decided to pursue STEM subjects due to a teacher or class they took, especially females. In her article “Keep Science and Math Alive in Middle School,” Paula Golden explains middle school is a common time in student’s lives when they “adopt a perception” of what they are and are not good at, whether or not it is actually true. If students are getting positive reinforcement about their skill sets, this a great time to start budding a love affair with a subject. The Microsoft survey showed one in five STEM students decided on their career path in middle school.
However, if poor grades, a lack of enthusiasm, negative feedback, or dull instruction are making STEM subjects unappealing, this could be the time that students are checking out. Students who decide they aren’t good at a subject in these formative years are setting themselves up for a long road of trouble in their chosen subject and are most likely removing themselves from a possible future in that career.
In a study by the American Association of University Women they found “negative stereotypes about girls’ abilities in math can indeed measurably lower girls’ test performance.” They also found that when girls and boys were told they had equal capabilities in math, their performance levels were essentially equal.
How can you get a student excited about STEM subjects? What can you do to make sure you aren’t contributing to the perception that they can’t be successful in a STEM subject or any subject?
“Keep Science and Math Alive in Middle School,” by Paula Golden. 4 October 2011. Huffington Post. Accessed on 5 October 2011. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paula-golden/keep-science-and-math-ali_b_993380.html>