Learning STEM: How to Succeed in Science and Math Classes

Does your student know what it takes to succeed in their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) classes? 

STEM learning is different from other subjects in a traditional high school curriculum. It’s more objective, cumulative, and application-focused, which can create unique challenges for students. And while not every student plans to become a software developer or a chemist, a fundamental understanding of STEM concepts is critical in our technology-driven world.

In a recent webinar, Signet tutor Fei Yu shared their advice for learning STEM subjects. Let’s take a closer look at what they had to say. 

The 3 Areas of STEM Success 

There are three areas of STEM success. Examining each one can help parents determine if their teenager is struggling in their science and mathematics classes: 

  • In class. How well does the student use class time?
    Struggling students may feel rushed and overwhelmed by trying to take notes on everything. 
  • Studying. How effectively does the student learn the information outside of class?
    Struggling students may spend tons of time memorizing facts and information. 
  • Practicing. How does the student approach homework and practice problems?
    Struggling students may be afraid of making mistakes and place too much emphasis on getting the right answers.  

 
Fortunately, students can leverage proven strategies in each area to have better success with STEM learning. 

STEM Learning During Class 

Most of the raw knowledge in a STEM class comes from lectures and class time, and getting the most out of those experiences facilitates everything else that follows. Note-taking is crucial, but it’s not as simple as frantically trying to write everything down. Students must learn how to take notes selectively to make the best use of their time—then revisit their notes to annotate them and extract what’s important

Here are several of the keys to success in a STEM classroom: 

  • Constantly practice refining and filtering information 
  • Develop a customized system of note-taking 
  • Keep notes as organized as possible 
  • Never assume you’ll “just remember” something important 
  • Collaborate as much as possible with teachers and friends 

 

Studying for STEM Subjects

It’s tempting to think of math as formulas to remember and science as facts to remember, but no STEM class is just about memorization. Pure memorization is hard, inefficient, and boring. It also doesn’t help students understand the concepts they’re learning. 

Here are several keys to studying well for a STEM exam: 

  • Always consider why things are the way they are 
  • Replace memorization with understanding 
  • Only memorize when necessary for understanding 
  • When memorization is needed, write things down 

 

Practicing STEM Problems

School often gives us the wrong idea about what practice really is, so let’s debunk a few common misconceptions. Practice is not. . . 

  • Making as few mistakes as possible
  • Focusing extremely hard on getting the right answer
  • Doing problems just to get through the homework 

 
Here are several keys to practicing STEM problems: 

  • Don’t be afraid to mess things up and make mistakes—every mistake made while practicing won’t be made when it counts
  • Focus on the process, not the answer—the right answer is meaningless without having learned how to get there, and a proper process will get the right answer every time 
  • Set aside time for self-reflection

 
If your student needs extra support with their STEM classes, Signet has STEM tutors on staff who teach both foundational and complex concepts in ways that are fun, accessible, and memorable. Contact us today to learn more!

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