Public support for STEM on the rise

Public Awareness Map, 51% of Iowans have heard of STEM.
Public awareness and support for STEM education and economic development in Iowa is growing according to the latest statewide survey of adult attitudes toward STEM.

A yearly independent evaluation, produced by a partnership consisting of the Research Institute for Studies in Education at Iowa State University, Iowa Testing Programs at the University of Iowa and the Center for Social and Behavioral Research at the University of Northern Iowa, shows that the STEM Council’s work is leading to higher academic performance and interest in STEM among Iowa students.

Yet, to continue making gains, more and more educators, business leaders, parents, students and other STEM stakeholders must first be aware of the opportunities available to them through the STEM Council. Fortunately, public awareness is also assessed on an annual basis with results from the 2015 survey showing strong progress and support for Iowa STEM.

From 2012 to 2015, the number of Iowans who have read, seen or heard about STEM has nearly doubled, increasing from 26 percent to 51 percent respectively. Findings from the most recent survey show that Iowa has narrowed the gap in STEM awareness between rural versus urban communities, males versus females and parents versus non-parents, suggesting that STEM is reaching across geographic and demographic boundaries in Iowa.

Beyond awareness, public support for STEM continues to grow as well. Nearly 88 percent of Iowans agree or strongly agree that a focus on STEM education will improve the state’s economy, which may be important since 74 percent felt that there are not enough skilled workers to fill STEM jobs in Iowa. To further support STEM, 9 out of 10 Iowans said STEM education should be a priority in their local school district, yet only 5 in 10 Iowans believe STEM education actually is a priority.

Findings from the 2015 survey, produced by UNI’s Center for Social and Behavioral Research, will be released as part of the full 2015-16 Iowa STEM Evaluation Report in late August. Until then, results from previous reports are available at www.IowaSTEM.gov/iowa-stem-evaluation.

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