Why Most Students Ditch Math & Science Majors…It All Adds Up

Some of the highest paying jobs are in math and science and yet college students are “ditching” the major. Why?

A key reason students abandon math and science classes is that they often require more work yet result in lower grades – not a great combination to encourage perseverance. There is another way. Math and science classes could be taught and graded differently in order to encourage students to stick with the programs.

What’s wrong with how math and science are taught?

  • Many students who initially major in math/science drop their majors when they get into the more difficult classes and opt for other majors (e.g., humanities, business, social science)
    • Few students come into math/science majors later
  • Key reason for attrition from math/science majors is students don’t get as high a grade as expected
    • While hard work in math/science classes is expected, it doesn’t get them as high a grade as in the other courses
  • Suggest that math and science aren’t being taught correctly, i.e., should let students:
    • Explore science for themselves before being taught basic formulas and practical applications (similar to education in the arts)
    • Find their way to math through real world situations rather than teaching “plug & chug” math skills, which teaches how to do math but how to understand math
  • There should be better management of expectations and preparation for math/science classes