STEM Education Research Center
At the national level, there is a clarion call for an increase in college graduates in STEM programs to address the critical need in the very industries that will be at the center of the continuing transformation of the world economy. National reports indicate the danger of the U.S. economy losing ground internationally unless our educational system becomes more effective at producing students interested in and capable of the rigors of the educational programs in the STEM disciplines.
At the state and local level, one of the key components of an increase in the effectiveness of STEM education is the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). While adopting these national standards is voluntary at the state level, Illinois has agreed to implement the Common Core and is an active lead state partner in the NGSS efforts. These new standards will completely transform the content and pedagogy employed in K-12 classrooms across the state. In addition, the new PARCC high-stakes assessments have been prepared that have replaced the Prairie State Exam at the high school level. As the state research University in the Southern Illinois region, SIU has an obligation to provide as much support as possible during this important transition period to our local school districts.
The structure and programs of the STEM Education Research Center will correspond to the primary areas of interest: K-12 STEM education, undergraduate STEM education, and graduate STEM education. As indicated above, K-12 STEM education is in a period of rapid transformation. One area of emphasis of the Center will be coordination of the existing programs already implemented at SIU, many of which reside in the College of Science.