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ARRA Investments in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education

Public Health Burden
The poor performance of students in the United States on national and international assessments of science and math is well documented and is disproportionately observed in populations with minority, disadvantaged, or disabled backgrounds. New approaches are needed to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, knowledge and interest in the United States in order to meet the increasing demand for trained workers in these disciplines.

New Approaches to STEM Education
The path to a career in science or medical research is a long and challenging one. The decision to pursue a career in biomedical research typically occurs early in education, even as early as elementary school, and long before college or graduate school. Attracting the best and brightest students in science and medical careers is critical to developing a workforce capable of addressing the emerging and complex challenges that will need to be confronted. Students in the United States lag behind other developed countries in their performance in science, technology, engineering and math. Rigorous approaches are needed to assess the effectiveness of traditional and new practices, tools, and curricula for STEM education and to identify effective strategies to promote the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians.    The following ARRA awards focus on assessing the efficacy of STEM education approaches to enhance interest and improve performance:
  • Refine and test the efficacy of new chemistry learning modules that incorporate perceptual and adaptive learning technologies to improve STEM learning.1
  • Establish the efficacy of a fully developed intervention at improving the problem-solving performance of third graders with mathematics difficulty.2
  • Determine the efficacy of improving fine motor skills to positively impact cognitive skills measured as improved math ability in third and fifth graders.3
  • Comprehensively assess whether inclusion of engineering curricula in elementary school improves technological literacy and promotes positive attitudes about engineering.4
  • Assess the long-term impact of placement of scientists in middle school classrooms to enhance learning and teaching in science.5
Addressing Issues of Equity in STEM Education
Given the racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural disparities in STEM competencies, greater emphasis is needed to assess traditional STEM education practices, tools, and curricula and identify specific strategies to address issues of equity.   The following ARRA awards address equity issues in STEM education practices, tools or curricula:
  • Conduct a large-scale study to assess the efficacy of a new curriculum to promote science and math skills in 3- to 5-year old children at risk for academic difficulties due to socioeconomic disadvantage.6
  • Examine the effectiveness of campus structures, teaching strategies, and student experiences to facilitate learning and retention in science, and skill development in introductory STEM courses, for underrepresented racial minority students.7
  • Assess intervention strategies for addressing stereotype threats that may influence gender-specific selection of STEM education and careers.8

  1. 1RC1HD063338-01 -- Using perceptual and adaptive learning to advance chemistry education -- Kellman, Philip J. (CA)
  2. 1RC1HD063996-01 -- Improving problem-solving performance in students with mathematics difficulties -- Jitendra, Asha Kiron (MN)
  3. 1RC1HD063534-01 -- Improving fine motor skill development to promote mathematical ability -- Grissmer, David W. (VA)
  4. 1RC1EB011268-01 -- Do engineering curricula improve science mathematics learning in elementary school -- Bottomley, Laura Jones (NC)
  5. 1RC1RR028361-01 -- Evaluation of the impact of a sustained scientist-in-the-classroom program -- Shepherd, Virginia (TN)
  6. 1RC1HD063522-01 -- Efficacy of the core knowledge approach to math and science preschool instruction -- Piasta, Shayne B. (OH)
  7. 1RC1GM090776-01 -- Introductory STEM courses: sorting, harvesting, or nurturing student talent -- Hurtado, Sylvia (CA)
  8. 1RC1GM090714-01 -- Reducing barriers to gender equity in STEM fields by reducing stereo threats -- Shapiro, Jenessa (CA)

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