The fields of science education and STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) provide many interesting research paper topics, from declining enrollment and follow-through in science majors in higher education, to women in science and teachers making science learning fun.
For your science and technology or education term paper, consult science articles for current science in the news topics.
Losing too many students in STEM
A good research paper topic is to discuss students’ loss of interest in science education once they reach college. Getting elementary and even high school age students interested in science is fairly easy when they learn low level sciences and participate in science fairs. Yet once they reach their freshman year in college, they are slammed with calculus, trigonometry, physics, chemistry and other advanced sciences. Many drop out—a whopping 60 percent of engineering, science and pre-med majors switch to other majors. The reasons are difficulty of the subjects they are required to take for the majors they thought they wanted to pursue, their inadequate math preparations in high school and their fear of getting low grades in that field.
In “Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It’s Just So Darn Hard)” posted in New York Times November 4, 2011, Christopher Drew wrote: “Other deterrents are the tough freshman classes, typically followed by two years of fairly abstract courses leading to a senior research or design project.” Dr. David E. Goldberg, retired engineering professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explained, “It’s dry and hard to get through, so if you can create an oasis in there, it would be a good thing.” Drew reported the Association of American Universities has announced an initiative to encourage faculty members in the STEM fields to use more interactive teaching techniques.
Compare science education among countries
An interesting term paper topic is to compare science education among various countries. In an effort to improve the diversity of science education around the world, the Australian Science Teachers Association in 2015 visited the United States to participate in the National Science Teachers Association Conference and to tour famous science facilities such as the Northrop Grumman Redondo Beach Space Park, the California Science Center and the Museum of Natural History.
In “Discovering Science Education in the USA,” posted in Teaching Science June 2015, teacher Ashley Mulchahy, a Northrop Grumman scholarship winner, remarked: “As teachers, engagement is the forefront of every lesson…To keep students connected as global citizens, it is necessary to understand what is happening at the frontline of science and technology to give some relevance to what they are learning about.”
Getting women involved in science education and STEM
A hot topic in science education is getting more women to become interested in and study STEM fields. In “Getting Girls to Study STEM: It’s About More Than Just Making Science ‘Cool’” posted May 5, 2014, on U.S. News, Deep Nishar interviewed Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College. The school encourages women to join computer science (CS) classes (typically the realm of men) by focusing on making CS fun, relevant, accessible and enticing for all kinds of people, not just males. Klawe said: “We changed the context of the intro course to ‘creative problem-solving in science and engineering using computational approaches with Python’ instead of ‘learn to program in Java’ and made sure that the homework assignments were a lot of fun. We did not reduce the level of rigor or challenge, and we increased the amount of programming.”
What are some topics you’ve seen about science in the news lately?