ASQ - Education Division

A Philosopher Looks at STEM Quality in Higher Education – from a Liberal Arts and Sciences Perspective

Abstract: This paper is authored by Dr. Jeremy Gallegos, Friends University. This paper is included in the Proceedings of the ASQ 2012 Advancing the STEM Agenda Conference at the UW-Stout July 16-17, 2012.

Higher education is at a pivotal crossroads. The federal government is looking more carefully at the practices and outcomes of colleges and universities. Businesses are becoming increasingly disappointed in the graduates of higher education institutions as noted in Richard Arum’s and Josipa Roksa’s 2011 Academically Adrift. Moreover, in terms of innovation, critical curriculum components are lacking as denoted by STEM: sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The philosopher Aristotle was, like many philosophers, a scientist as well. He discussed the process of change in substances with respect to what he called the four causes. These causes are final cause, formal cause, efficient cause, and material cause. Further, in each category of cause, there is a state of potentiality and one of actuality. Also, one ought to be able to discern between accidental causes and proper or planned causes. From this theory, Aristotle created for philosophy a methodology for quality inquiry and improvement. A review of what philosophers have known for two thousand years can provide insight into the fields of STEM and the liberal arts and sciences and offer tips for creating improvement and change in order to improve the status of STEM in higher education.

Keywords: STEM - Conference Proceedings - Critical Thinking - Teaching Quality

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