Survey Shows Students Want Hands-On, Real World Experiences to Better Engage with STEM Education

Large Majorities of Teens Like Science and Understand its Value, but Common Teaching Methods Do Not Bring the Subject Matter to Life
Eduardo Cetlin, President of Amgen Foundation

(Thousand Oaks, CA, Tuesday, June 7, 2016) – A survey to find out what motivates US high school students to study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education shows that students want more real-world opportunities that will inspire them to explore careers in scientific fields. The survey found that large majorities of teens like science and understand its value, but common teaching methods, such as teaching straight from the textbook, do not bring the subject matter to life in the same way hands-on, real-life experiences do. Teachers are also uniquely positioned to stimulate students’ interest in STEM.

The report, entitled “Students on STEM: More Hands-on, Real-World Experiences” was conducted by the Amgen Foundation, which seeks to advance excellence in science education to inspire the next generation of innovators,  in partnership with Change the Equation (CTEq).

Several results reveal an opportunity to better engage students in the classroom:

  • Eighty-one percent of students are interested in science, and 73 percent expressed interest in biology. However, only 37 percent of teens said they like their science classes “a lot.” By contrast, 48 percent reported liking non-science classes “a lot.”
  • Among teens who are interested in biology careers, teachers (85 percent) and classes (86 percent) rank right alongside their parents or guardians (87 percent) as the biggest influences on their career decisions.
  • Two-way, hands-on learning, like experiments and field trips, are most likely to engage teen students in biology, followed by tools that help them relate biology to real life. One-way communication, such as class discussions or teaching straight from the book, are least interesting, but among the most common.
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