How to keep science majors committed to science

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Yale biologist Jo Handelsman, left, engaging with students in the classroom.

Instilling a passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in students can be tough, but maintaining the commitment among STEM majors can be even more challenging.

In the Sept. 27 issue of the journal Science, Yale biologist Jo Handelsman and colleagues describe steps that academic institutions can take to keep students engaged in the sciences.

These initiatives include early participation by freshmen and sophomores in meaningful research, more active learning experiences in classrooms, and establishment of “learning communities” of student and faculty, the authors say.

The need is great, said Handelsman, noting that less than half of the 3 million students who intend to major in a STEM field end up with a science degree and the exit rate among women and minorities is even higher. 

Click here to read the essay by Handelsman, nominee for the position of associate director for science at the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy; Yale colleagues Mark J. Graham and Jennifer Frederick; Angela Byars Winston of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Anne-Barrie Hunter of the University of Colorado-Boulder.

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