The BHEF U.S. STEM Education Model

The U.S. STEM Education Model developed by Raytheon is a system dynamics model.  System dynamics modeling allows users to simulate the behavior of complex systems to better study the interaction of variables.  Dynamic hypotheses, beliefs about the relationships between two variables, underlie any system dynamics model.  In the process of developing the model, Raytheon engineers reviewed scores of dynamic hypotheses and included 227 independent variables for influencing the number of students who are capable and interested in pursuing careers in STEM disciplines. Model developers used published research on teacher quality and on STEM persistence in college to develop these dynamic hypotheses, identify the variables that influence STEM persistence, and determine the relationships between those variables.

The U.S. STEM Education Model is a “stock and flow” model.  In this model, the “stock” is the overall number of students who progress through the grades. The “flow” represents a change between STEM-interested and STEM-uninterested, and STEM proficient and non-STEM proficient students. The model tracks the flow of students through the education system at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels. From 8th to 12th grade, the model is being refined to include eight flow paths: male and female students who are interested in STEM and those who are not; and male and female students who are proficient in STEM (measured by math test scores) and those who are not.  The post-secondary portion of the model includes only those students who enter college as STEM-interested, which is defined as pursuing either a STEM major or a STEM-related education major.  In the postsecondary portion of the model, the flow paths include students who become STEM teachers or go into STEM industry.

Currently, factors and variables which can be tested in the model include:

  • Teacher-student ratios and class sizes;
  • Dropout and graduation rates;
  • Teacher attrition rates;
  • Gender differences in STEM;
  • Teacher and industry salaries;
  • Cohort and Bridge Programs