“Many students want to be in science, but very talented people are choosing other fields. That shouldn’t be the case,” Hurtado said. “It’s important to understand how we close this gap.”
Poor scientific literacy among college students is one reason students pursuing science and math are less likely to graduate from those programs. High school graduates aren’t prepared for first-year science classes in college, Hurtado said.
But there’s another problem, too: Higher education, itself. Science and math programs are designed and taught to winnow down the number of students. University tenure systems often reward professors who conduct research and publish their work, but not those who teach well.