Goals and General Description

Motivating Students to Pursue STEM Careers
The PKAL 2003 Assemblies
What Works - What Matters - What Lasts: The Roles and Responsibilities of Leaders in Undergraduate STEM

September 5 - 7, 2003


This event will consider steps that colleges and universities can take to motivate undergraduate students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, such as:

  • a science and mathematics teacher within the K-12 community
  • a Ph.D. professional in academe and/or in the R&D community
  • a participant in the U.S. scientific and engineering workforce.

The undergraduate years are an opportunity for students to explore and build a foundation for a future as productive, contributing citizens in a society increasingly influenced by science and technology. One driver for current efforts to improve the undergraduate STEM learning environment is the recognition of academic leaders that the context in which their students will be pursuing careers is changing dramatically. This changing context must be reflected in the shaping and reshaping of the programs and spaces in which students encounter science and mathematics, engineering and technology.

This changing context affects the shaping and reshaping of undergraduate STEM programs and thus demands attention to:

  • the increasing diversity of the undergraduate student population
  • the growing national need for entrants into the 21st century workforce who are well-equipped with the requisite scientific and technological skills and understandings
  • the partnerships and collaborations that lead toward motivating students to pursue careers in fields that require such scientific and technological skills and understandings
  • the new directions in how science is practiced and how they must be reflected in how science is learned.

Plenary sessions during the assembly will address:

  • the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century workplace– what careers are open to 21st century graduates and the expectations of potential employers
  • the connections beyond the campus that facilitate meaningful student explorations of potential careers in S&T fields
  • the institutional policies, practices and programs that must be in place to support productive student exploration of careers as a K-12 teacher, S&T professional or Ph.D. academic/professional.

Following plenaries, break-out sessions will examine each of the three career tracks, highlighting exemplary programs that encourage students to pursue an S&T career, whether as a K-12 teacher, a Ph.D. professional, or as a baccalaureate entry into the 21st century workplace. The break-out sessions will address how to:

  • prepare students for graduate school in a time when boundaries between disciplines are dissolving, when the method in which scientists interact is being transformed by technologies, and when there is a growing impetus toward integrating research and education
  • connect students to real-world career opportunities that require scientific and technological skills, informing them about the wide range of vocations through which they can translate their interests in productive careers.

Participants will also have opportunity to consider:

  • the roles and responsibilities of departmental/program leaders in designing curricula that encourage students to consider a career in an S&T field and in providing support and encouragement for that exploration
  • the roles and responsibilities of admissions officers, career advising officers, corporate and foundation officers in supporting the work of faculty leaders
  • the opportunities that arise in planning new spaces for science that support campus-wide efforts to attract more students into the study of STEM fields and prepare them to be competitive candidates for graduate school and/or for the 21st century workplace.