Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Christopher Drew writes that President Obama and industry groups have called on colleges to graduate 10,000 more engineers a year and 100,000 new teachers with majors in science, technology, engineering and math but studies find that roughly 40 percent of students planning engineering and science majors end up switching to other subjects or failing to get any degree — 60 percent when pre-medical students are included. Middle and high school students are having most of the fun, building their erector sets and dropping eggs into water to test the first law of motion but the excitement quickly fades as students brush up against the reality of what David E. Goldberg calls “the math-science death march" as freshmen in college wade through a blizzard of calculus, physics and chemistry in lecture halls with hundreds of other students where many wash out. “Treating the freshman year as a ‘sink or swim’ experience and accepting attrition as inevitable,” says a report by the National Academy of Engineering, “is both unfair to students and wasteful of resources and faculty time.” But help is on the way. In September, the Association of American Universities announced a five-year initiative to encourage faculty members in the STEM fields to use more interactive teaching techniques (PDF). “There is a long way to go,” says Hunter R. Rawlings, the association’s president, “and there is an urgent need to accelerate the process of reform.”"
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