Counsellors and psychologists play an important role in students’ lives as they learn and grow. Although most people recognize the need for students to have the emotional support they need while they attend school, many don’t understand the direct impact that counselling and psychology can have on academics, and later in word and life. Let’s take a look at how psychology can help students and teachers to create a more successful learning experience, particularly in STEM education.
What is STEM Education?
In our modern world, STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math) are becoming more and more important for students each year. With the number of jobs opening up in these fields in the coming years, students need to have STEM skills and knowledge to succeed. Alarmingly, this increase in STEM jobs has been accompanied by a waning interest in these subjects. Just 16% of high school students have the mathematical skills and interest in pursuing STEM careers, and more than half of these students will lose interest by the time they complete high school.
Sometimes, ensuring that each student gets a quality STEM education means incorporating psychology. In addition to helping students succeed, psychology is a STEM subject in and of itself—students who take an interest in this discipline can find satisfying jobs in a wide range of industries once they have completed college.
The Power of Psychology in Students’ STEM Learning
Currently, only 23 of our 50 states require school counsellors to be available for students from K-12. Lacking these resources, many students do not get the help they need to succeed in STEM subjects. Often, students struggle with STEM because they have been influenced by harmful stereotypes about which kinds of students are best at these subjects or because they lose confidence.
Others have trouble with the typical teaching methods that are used to educate students on STEM subjects. Not everyone has a brain that adapts naturally to mathematics and engineering. These students need to know that it’s okay if they need more time to grasp the material than their classmates or try different methods of learning. Even if a student isn’t planning to pursue a career in STEM, it’s important that all students have a solid understanding of the basics.
The role of counselling
Counselling can help students gain the confidence they need to tackle these subjects with the knowledge that they will make mistakes—and that’s okay. Psychology can also help counsellors better understand what is holding students back and work with educators to address those issues.
In addition to issues that relate directly to their STEM education, students’ personal and emotional struggles can also have an impact on their learning. It’s important to have the resources and support available from a sympathetic third party to help students work through all of the problems in their lives so they can be more successful in school and happier at home.
How Teachers Can Use Psychology in STEM
Many teachers themselves have trouble teaching STEM subjects to students. They may not fully understand what their students are struggling with, or have trouble inspiring students to be interested in these subjects.
Understanding the psychology behind their students’ struggles can help teachers adapt their approaches to STEM learning and help their classes become more successful. Teachers will be better able to relate to students and think up creative methods for addressing their unique challenges in STEM.
An Education in Psychology Has Incredible Benefits
No matter what field a person ends up joining, having a psychology education helps them to understand and interact with the world around them. It’s a popular field for a reason: we all want to understand each other better. Learning about psychology also helps people to develop key critical thinking skills and creativity. We need people with this type of knowledge and related skills in schools to help students succeed in their future careers. Although it’s certainly possible to get a STEM education without psychology, being able to relate to others is an important skill that helps to make our world better.
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.