STEM Education vs. Traditional Models

by | May 22, 2014 | STEM Education Info

In a previous post, we talked about how STEM education fits the mold of today’s student and how, because of this, STEM education is often more effective than traditional teaching models for engaging students with the course material. Students today engage and interact with content and their surroundings differently than previous student generations have. While this may be the case, a lot of our STEM classrooms are still using traditional teaching models. Those teaching models may have been very effective at one point, but refreshing lesson plans and curricula to meet the mindset of today’s students could go a long way.

With easily accessible technology ready at the fingertips, we’re seeing a new breed of learners with a new style of learning. These students function better when they are hands-on and engaging with the content they’re learning. In this post, we want to talk about the advantages STEM education has over traditional classroom teaching models.

Breaking Away from Tradition

Traditionally, students hit the books to find their information. The learning stemmed from scouring chapters of a textbook, defining terms in the glossary, and highlighting pertinent sections. There’s an occasional demonstration or class discussion, and then it’s test time. Maybe this worked for previous generations, but the students of today don’t learn best with this format. Maybe it’s due to attention spans supposedly shortened by the massive amount of information and entertainment that’s instantly available online. Accustomed to instant gratification, many people will find it taxing to wade through chapters of a book to find the information they want. In any case, today’s students prefer not just to read about subject material: they want to see it in action, they want to have a hands-on experience that illustrates a concept. Interacting with the content helps them absorb it, and it deepens their connection to the material, ensuring they’ll remember more even after taking a test.

Keeping Up with Our Kids

Today’s students either want to run away from the dull classroom learning objectives or face it head on. It depends on how the teachers keep up with their momentum. Shying away from traditional teaching models allows teachers to maintain a level of excitement, keeping their students hooked on the material. This is done by pulling the textbook content straight out of the book and onto a lab table or creating a hands-on exercise. We’re not saying that this kind of teaching has never been done before, but now, more than ever, our kids need to have these things to keep them interested and engaged.

Learning Practical Applications

STEM education breaks away from traditional models by examining the combination of all fields of STEM. Activities and course materials focus on an actual use and application of the learning objectives. When students find practical applications in their course work, this is when they’re truly actively learning the material. When they understand how it all applies to the world and to their lives, this is when they begin to enjoy all the advantages STEM education has to offer to them. STEM programs are springing up throughout the country. If you’re interested in getting STEM into your school, we can help you!