Project Background

STEM Transitions: Enhancing Mathematics and Science Rigor Through Evidence-Based Curriculum Projects

Background and Purpose:

The demands of today’s global economy continue to stimulate public discourse and policy initiatives concerning the competitiveness of the United States in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). There is growing recognition that community colleges can play a unique role in leading efforts that bring together industry leaders and educators to resolve the complex challenges of educating and training students taking STEM courses in the U.S.

According to the National Science Board (2006), changing workforce requirements mean that new workers will need even more sophisticated skills in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. Scientific and engineering-related occupations are expected to continue to grow more rapidly than occupations in general. In fact, long-term growth in STEM occupations has far exceeded that of the general workforce. This project is intended to help ensure the rigor of mathematics and science concepts taught in the six STEM-related clusters at the community college level and encourage the pursuit of STEM-related careers.

Project Tasks:

The Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD) was contracted to conduct the “STEM Transitions” project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Vocational and Adult Education under cooperative agreement with the League for Innovation in the Community College. Work on the project began November 2007 and concluded at the end of 2008. The main focus of the project was the development of context-based instructional materials that demonstrate the convergence of technical and academic concepts within STEM-related clusters. The intent is to provide community college faculty with teaching resources that offer both academic and career-related skills.

CORD, in conjunction with 40 faculty conferees from community colleges across the country, has developed over 60 integrated curriculum projects for use in math, science, and technical courses in the six STEM-related clusters—health science; information technology; manufacturing; transportation; science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and agriculture. The projects are intended to aid in student mastery of essential mathematics and science concepts while motivating students to pursue STEM-related careers.

CORD was assisted by its project partners, the College and Career Transitions Initiative and the States’ Career Cluster Initiative, in 1) the identification of math, science, and cluster standards to be addressed by the projects, 2) selection of topics for development, 3) review of project drafts, and 4) dissemination of completed teaching resources.

From September 2 through October 31, 2008, the integrated project materials were evaluated by interested faculty members as part of the External Review Phase of the STEM Transitions project. Revisions to the projects were completed in December 2008. An evaluation form will continue to be available within each integrated project throughout the life of this website. We invite community college faculty members to share comments and ask questions of our staff as they implement projects in their classrooms.

Below are project materials for download and dissemination: