Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Long-awaited paper now out

The Integration of the Humanities and Artswith Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine inHigher Education: Branches from the Same Tree (read online, or order a hard copy).

The National Academy of Sciences commissioned this report on the value of STEMM integration in higher education. From a highlights document:
"This study examined an important trend in higher education: integration of the humanities and arts with sciences, engineering, and medicine at the undergraduate and graduate level—which proponents argue will better prepare students for work, life, and citizenship...This movement in higher education raises an important question: what impact do these curricular approaches have on students? 
To address this question, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine formed a 22-member committee to examine 'the evidence behind the assertion that educational programs that mutually integrate learning experiences in the humanities and arts with science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) lead to improved educational and career outcomes for undergraduate and graduate students.' The committee conducted an in-depth review and analysis of the state of knowledge on the impact of integrative approaches on students."
 The results are encouraging:
"Aggregate evidence indicates that some approaches that integrate the humanities and arts with STEMM are associated with positive learning outcomes. Among the outcomes reported are increased critical thinking abilities, higher-order thinking and deeper learning, content mastery, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills, improved visuospatial reasoning, and general engagement and enjoyment of learning. 
An important observation was that the kinds of outcomes associated with certain integrative approaches in higher education are the educational outcomes that many employers presently seek. Employer surveys consistently show that employers want well-rounded individuals with a holistic education who can take on complex problems and understand the needs, desires, and motivations of others. Importantly, these learning goals and competences are similarly valued by institutions of higher education. The committee considered multiple forms of evidence as it developed the following recommendations for institutions, faculty, administrators, scholars of higher education, and federal and private funders. The recommendations fall under four main areas:"

  1. Support for Integrative Approaches
  2. Evaluating Integrative Courses and Programs
  3. Enhancing Inclusivity Through Integrative Courses and Programs
  4. Removing the Barriers to Integrative Approaches 
The paper concludes that:
"Higher education should strive to offer all students—regardless of degree or area of concentration—an education that exposes them to diverse forms of human knowledge and inquiry and that impresses upon them the fact that all disciplines are 'branches of the same tree.' Such an education should empower students to understand the fundamental connections among the diverse branches of human inquiry—the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, mathematics, engineering, technology, and medicine."

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