Education ForumScience Education

Growing Roles for Science Education in Community Colleges

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Science  03 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5996, pp. 1151-1152
DOI: 10.1126/science.1194214

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In an increasingly global society and economy, education and training beyond compulsory primary and secondary education—especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)—is essential to a nation's competitiveness and its standard of living. Community colleges, originally developed at the turn of the 20th century as open-admissions junior colleges and offering the first two years of a baccalaureate education, help meet this need. These colleges have evolved into comprehensive institutions, preparing students to transfer to upper-division universities or to enter the workforce directly. Enrolling 43% of all U.S. undergraduates (1), community colleges play important roles in developing public scientific literacy, educating scientists and engineers, and addressing the nation's need for well-prepared technicians (2). But challenges remain.