Why it matters

Applied Learning and STEM Education

Real-world skills are a must in our rapidly changing high-tech world.

  • Complex problem-solving

  • Collaboration & Communication

  • Critical thinking

  • Creativity

Applied learning and STEM education develop our future problem solvers.

Applied learning classrooms hum with students collaborating to tackle thorny problems, thinking critically and creatively, and persevering when something doesn’t work the first time. Not only are students learning important STEM content, but they are applying this knowledge to solve real-world problems. The results: Deep understanding from enthusiastic learners.

Applied learning and STEM are critical to classrooms of the future.


Applied learning…

Applied learning changes the way students engage with content, and the way teachers engage with students:

  • Student engagement is linked to academic performance,1 yet students are overwhelmingly bored in school.2
  • Applied learning engages students leading to deeper content mastery through productive struggle with content.
  • Teachers transition from lecturers to active facilitators in student learning.

Applied learning helps students develop skills they will need for success in college and career:

  • As skills required for the new ever-changing job market evolve,1 employers need students with 21st century skills2 that will allow them to be facile learners who persevere when solving unique problems.
  • Complex problem solving is at the core of applied learning, requiring students to practice critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.

By connecting the classroom to the real-world, applied learning enables students to form connections between their learning and the challenges professionals encounter.

In traditional math and science classrooms, students often ask: “When will I ever use this?”

Applied learning challenges students to apply content knowledge to real-world problems, bringing to light the use cases of their learning and allowing students to visualize themselves in a breadth of 21st Century careers.

  • 2nd grade is when students decide whether or not STEM is for them1

  • Only 1/3 of high schoolers believe their education is providing the skills they need to be successful in college and career2

Applied learning works for all students, regardless of zipcode, gender, race, or language background.

The equity gap in education is real and growing. Applied learning shows results for all students. Proof from programs supported by Mass STEM Hub:

  • Project Lead The Way positively impacts student achievement overall and among ALL student groups.1 Read the full report.
  • After using ST Math, student achievement for all students increased – including students who are economically disadvantaged, students with IEPs, and English language learners.2
  • PBLWorks employs project-based learning which shows promise as a strategy for closing the achievement gap by engaging lower-achieving students.3


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STEM Professionals

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the Mass STEM Hub team
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