What can teachers do to encourage students to study STEM subjects?

According to the Eurydice report (2011), “maintaining high-level skills in these [MST] fields is crucial to the economy and so aiming for a high proportion of MST graduates continues to be an important objective in all European countries.” (p. 93). However, is seems that very often students do not see school science mathematics as relevant to their future working lives and they tend to perceive that careers in science, mathematics and engineering in narrow and stereotypical ways (Archer et al., 2012; Vordeman et al., 2011).

Research has found that teachers have an important role in influencing young people to study STEM subjects (e.g. see Archer et al, 2011).

Teachers have an important role to play in helping students make informed career choices. Too often, however, this role is neglected.

Many teachers of mathematics and science are not confident about providing careers advice, and do not see this as their role. However, it can be argued that they do have some responsibility in this respect and there is a great deal of support available on the Internet.

For this professional question there are two tools:

Tool WF-1 Science teachers and careers advice

Tool WF-2 Mathematics teachers and careers advice

Using these tools will heighten the awareness of the group about their influential role and provide them with:

  • information to guide their advice to young people
  • approaches to making careers in STEM more attractive to young people.


Archer, L., DeWitt, J., Osborne, J., Dillon, J., Willis, B., & Wong, B. (2012). Science aspirations, capital, and family habitus how families shape children’s engagement and identification with science. American Educational Research Journal, 49(5), 881-908.

Eurydice (2011) Mathematics Education in Europe: Common Challenges and National Policies. EACEA. Available from: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/documents/thematic_reports/132en.pdf.

Vorderman, C., Porkess, R., Budd, C., Dunne, R., & Rahman-Hart, P. (2011). A world-class mathematics education for all our young people. Report for the Conservative Party. Available from: http://www.tsm-resources.com/pdf/VordermanMathsReport. pdf.