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Special Education in STEM?

Hey everyone, it's Arianna! Today, I'm here to discuss the lack of representation in STEM for children with special needs and how we can make a difference. It's no secret that there's a significant lack of diversity in STEM fields across the country. However, as our society becomes more aware of the shortcomings in STEM within the United States, we, as a STEM community, must acknowledge that different individuals require varying accommodations to succeed in this industry. Students with disabilities are one group that is directly affected by these disparities. Numerous sources have statistically shown that students facing challenges are less likely to graduate high school, but why is this the case?

To begin with, there are several blind spots in teacher education. STEM is a hands-on field, and those who teach it often receive limited special education training. Consequently, when they encounter students with special needs, their expectations for these students' success tend to be lower due to perceived obstacles. Another contributing factor is the overall quality of American education. Many, if not all, students with special needs are frequently excluded from mainstream education and instead directed to alternative classes and programs. As a result, these students often receive fewer credits in math or science, which not only discourages them from pursuing higher education but also makes them feel less prepared for STEM.

The initial step in bridging this gap in STEM involves identifying the barriers that these students face, including lack of confidence, physical obstacles for those with mobility disabilities, social challenges, and more. Armed with this understanding, teachers should proactively engage with students and their parents to comprehend their academic and physical requirements, and then respond accordingly. Additionally, teachers should invest in expanding their knowledge of diverse teaching methods. Effective strategies to support these students could include assigning personal tutors who offer tailored instruction that caters to their specific needs and learning styles. Consultation services also hold promise, as they can equip students with coping mechanisms and insights into addressing the challenges they encounter in the best possible manner.

Recognizing these challenges is the initial stride towards enacting positive change. By pinpointing the distinct hurdles faced by students with disabilities, we can work towards crafting focused solutions that empower them to thrive in STEM subjects. Thank you all for listening!

G. (2019, September 16). 3 Benefits of Pursuing a Career in STEM Education. GCU.


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