New NASEM Report Identifies “Indicators for Monitoring Undergraduate STEM Education”

On May 21, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) hosted a webinar to mark the release of a new report, Indicators for Monitoring Undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education. The goal of the report was to improve undergraduate STEM education by developing metrics by which it can be measured. To do this, NASEM conducted a consensus study of indicators that would allow STEM education quality to be tracked over time. The report found that improving the quality and impact of undergraduate STEM education would require progress towards: (1) “increasing students’ mastery of STEM concepts and skills,” (2) “striving for equity, diversity, and inclusion of STEM students and instructors,” and (3) “ensuring adequate numbers of STEM professionals by increasing completion of STEM credentials.” The objectives and their corresponding indicators in this study each fall under one of these three goals.

The report concludes that to monitor the status and quality of undergraduate STEM education, national data systems need to not only track both full- and part-time students’ paths across and within institutions, but must also include more demographic characteristics to ensure progress towards equity, diversity, and inclusion. There is a need for recurring longitudinal surveys of instructors and students, and, due to the limited availability of data for the study’s indicators, new data collection is needed for many of them. The report contains several proposals for how the indicator system could be implemented, including national student data systems, expanding current federal institutional surveys, and developing a national representative student sample, each supplemented with expanded surveys of students and instructors. The complete report is available to download on the NASEM website.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s summer intern, Catherine Cox of the University of Michigan.

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