It’s been months since our last update, and we have a lot of news to share!
The first year mark of the study (October 1) has passed, and during that time we have accomplished a lot. In our travels around Wisconsin, the three members of our team have chatted with over 150 individuals who are working in manufacturing or biotechnology businesses or related initiatives or who are teaching or advising students on pathways into these industries. We conducted many shop floor and laboratory tours and learned more about the factors that shape hiring, that affect curriculum and instruction, and that influence the formation of partnerships between higher education and the workforce. We also gathered some very interesting data concerning the “skills gap” and what our participants thought of that phenomenon…
In terms of publications, we released a report on the conundrum concerning what STEM jobs actually are and what that means for subsequent labor market analyses. A proposal regarding work ethic in the classroom has been accepted for a poster session at the Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in Chicago, so we will start sharing our results on that front at that conference in the spring.
In November, Matt and I traveled to Washington DC to the Meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). I presented a paper on undergraduate study habits (an idea that we are hoping to loop into workforce development), and Matt and I met a variety of interesting people working on higher education-workforce development projects. We were excited to see the field embrace this line of research, and we enjoyed the models and ideas that others put forth. A high point for me was attending a panel about the mis-specified STEM crisis that grappled with questions that were relevant to our study and to the report we just released.
So what lies ahead during the chilly months of December and January? We are in the thick of our analysis now and are exploring every detail that our participants shared with us. The coming months will be a carnival of analysis, interpretations, meetings, discussions, more analysis, and RESULTS! As we march on, we promise to post more frequent updates with interesting findings and relevant stories.
We will also pursue our in-depth follow-up interviews and observations in the coming months. We’ve just selected around six postsecondary education instructors to closely follow and analyze in order to better understand their curriculum design, teaching, advising, and their partnerships with industry. Their interesting and unique stories will bring to life some of our most important findings.
Lastly, please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments or contact us directly with your insights. If anything, our fieldwork has taught us that collaboration and teamwork is key, and we would love to hear from you!