New study identifies trilogy necessary to increase student success in science and math


St. Paul, MN -- A new report suggests ways to increase the number and diversity of those pursuing education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The report, "Engagement, Capacity and Continuity: A Trilogy For Student Success," analyzes why successful individual reform efforts have not led to broader increases in students achieving at high levels nor entering science and math oriented careers.

The need to close a major achievement gap in these fields has only grown more urgent in a high-skill, technology-based economy and society.

The report's authors, Science Museum of Minnesota President Dr. Eric J. Jolly and Dr. Patricia B. Campbell and Lesley K. Perlman of Campbell-Kibler Associates, Inc. will present the report at a briefing hosted by the Science Museum of Minnesota Thursday, September 30 at 2:00 p.m. Responding will be Dr. Wilson Bradshaw, President of Metropolitan State University; Dr. Bernice Anderson, Acting Director, Human Resource Development, National Science Foundation; and Nancy Nutting, Director of SciMathMN. The report was commissioned by the GE Foundation.

Engagement, Capacity, Continuity
The report identifies three factors that must all be present for each student to be able to continue in the sciences and quantitative disciplines. Disparate efforts to increase student success such as teacher professional development, curriculum, mentorship, and field trips -- will not be successful if the three factors of the "ECC Trilogy" are not addressed. Needed are Engagement (the spark), Capacity (the skills) and Continuity (the pathways). True success occurs when a student has engagement--a sustained enthusiasm, interest, and motivation toward the subject matter; capacity--knowledge and skills gained via an increasingly rigorous curriculum (math, then algebra, then calculus, for instance); and continuity--a network of course offerings, scholarships, guidance: all the educational opportunities a student needs to steadily advance.

The authors find that even when a program provides exemplary supports in one of the ECC areas, a student does not achieve if either of the other two is absent. A unified effort--pulling together parents, mentors, teachers, administrators, and other resources like museums--is necessary to give children what they need to reach success.

The report gives recommendations based on the ECC Trilogy for what educational policy makers, sponsors, curriculum/program directors, evaluators, district/school administrators, teachers and museums and other informal science institutions can do to bring about student success in the sciences and quantitative disciplines in their realm of influence.

Implications for Business and Museums
An educated, diverse, available workforce is critical to companies from high-tech startups to Fortune 500 companies. The recommendations of this report can help increase and improve the pool of talent in the next generation and beyond.

"This report lays out a compelling framework for educational reform, one that will help maximize the impact from all our efforts school, community, and business," said GE Foundation executive director Roger Nozaki. "Business has a clear self-interest in helping strengthen education, and a culture of making decisions based on data. This kind of research helps us take that same approach to education, rather than reinventing the wheel with each new program or initiative."

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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