School and pandemic: Korona is slowing down STEM – Knowledge courses

STEM education in schools – ie in mathematics, computer science, natural sciences – suffered during the pandemic. In addition, it again had a major impact on performance in these subjects due to a migration background. Universities, on the other hand, have proven to be particularly resilient to the crisis, but are in the midst of a major upheaval after the Corona.

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These are the most important results of the nationwide trend report on the situation of young talents in the MINT field, which is published by the German Academy of Sciences and Engineering and the Joachim Herz Foundation.

The MINT Young Talent Barometer is a nationwide trend report. The report collects and comments on the most important figures, data and facts about the situation of young talents in the field of STEM, from school education to vocational training and university studies. According to the authors, by monitoring key indicators, the report provides empirically based knowledge on current developments and areas of action in STEM education. The report was co-published by akatech – German Academy of Sciences and Engineering and the Joachim Herz Foundation and created by IPN – Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education.

New impulses for quality in teaching

In general, the report’s authors see a greater burden of the pandemic in primary schools than in secondary schools I and II, explained Olaf Köller, director of the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN), and director of studies at MINT. -The new talent barometer. The older the students, the better they coped with distance learning, which can be explained by a higher degree of self-regulation.

Pandemic-related learning deficits, digital teaching and migration-related disadvantages now need a new impetus to ensure high quality in MINT courses, he said when the results were presented Wednesday.

According to the report, in the subject of mathematics, students in Germany and other European countries created learning deficits of 10 to 13 weeks by the end of primary school during the pandemic. An estimated study of the Young Talent Barometer shows, using the Hamburg city example, that the percentage of high-performing primary school students decreased by almost ten percent as a result of the pandemic, while the percentage of high-performing students low has increased. with a good ten percent.

Another problematic point is the low percentage of women in STEM fields. According to Köller, this should start in high schools, as the study shows that the gender gap is widening at this stage. This is the point at which many students turn their backs on STEM classes.

Many teachers do not use digitalization

According to the results of the report, distance learning opportunities were not fully utilized by teachers during the blocking phase. Only 16 percent of STEM teachers used project-led and independent work, which could have been reasonably used in home schooling. “The vast majority, on the other hand, transferred their one-on-one learning to digital,” the study says.

Against the background of the results, joint efforts are now needed, Olaf Köller explained.

“We need to make further progress with digitalisation in schools – both in terms of equipment and in the skills of teachers, school management and students.” On the other hand, MINT education needs to recover quickly from the pandemic. “Long covid in STEM education should be prevented at all costs.”

The report criticizes the fact that frontal learning was often simply transferred to the digital space during the pandemic. “Reasonable use of digital media goes far beyond that,” said Nina Lemmens, director of the Joachim Herz Foundation.

Digital tools can help make learning more exciting and understandable, especially in the natural sciences. “To advance digitalization in schools, we need further training for teachers on the one hand, and on the other hand working with digital tools should be anchored in the teacher training course.

Pushing digitalization in schools

Basically, there has been a clear push towards digitalization in schools, but only very few teachers have taken advantage of the opportunities of the situation and, for example, have systematically distributed tasks and formed learning groups. Especially in the natural sciences, digital offers good supplements, as tools that stimulate scientific thinking, that bring modeling – for example the pandemic and climate – closer to school students. It also makes learning scientific arguments easier.

Migration-related changes in STEM performance, on the other hand, are not a new development. Students with migrant backgrounds have been in relation to years worse than their classmates. According to the current survey, children of families with migrant backgrounds have a deficit of more than 70 points in math competence in 5th grade. This implies a performance disadvantage of up to two school years.

According to Köller, these inequalities caused by the migration background have already started in the preschool sector. “We have to start there to balance it,” Köller said. The conference of family ministers lacked a clear commitment to the controversial issue of the educational mandate of day care centers. “This would be urgently needed, we need to prepare for school in this area in order to prevent early disadvantages.”

The most resilient universities in the Covid crisis

On the other hand, the report testifies to a positive development in the field of MINT in universities. In a survey of nearly 6,000 Master students, three-quarters of respondents rated their university’s crisis management as “very good” or “good.”
“German universities have proven to be particularly resilient during the Covid-19 crisis – a functioning digital infrastructure was once again an important factor,” explains academy president Jan Wörner.

However, higher education after Corona will not be the same as before. 81 percent of math students and even 94 percent of computer science students reject a full return to traditional face-to-face teaching. However, very few respondents would like purely digital learning.

“Almost no one wants to go back to the status quo before the pandemic, but neither does they want to go back to the pandemic mode in which everyone was sitting just in front of the plaque,” Köller concludes. Now a mixed form is desired. Above all, MINT students prefer combined formats such as blended learning, digital element attendance phases, and hybrid formats.

“The benefits of digitalisation now need to be better expected in both the primary and secondary education systems,” says academic W presidentrner. In particular, STEM entities would benefit from this. “Your content can be supported digitally – keywords: virtual reality, gamification – very clearly communicated.”

The overall decline in the number of students in the MINT branch can not be explained by a lack of interest, but by demographic developments. The baby boom will still have an impact over the next ten years. “Therefore, we need to attract more and more prospective students and reduce the dropout rate by about 50 percent,” Köller said.

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