Academic Exchange Quarterly     Summer 2017     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 21, Issue 2

Guest Editorial

Welcome to the Summer 2017 issue of The Academic Exchange Quarterly (AEQ). Most published articles address
the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

SoTL is considered a reciprocal model for research investigation, one that advances teaching via learning and vice versa;
thus, creating a perpetual loop of educational improvement - both for educators and students alike. What a powerful tool,
we, as educators, have for the exploration of our own classrooms and their effectiveness by way of active research.
However, SoTL also offers a simple method that is easily invoked within STEM classroom, which is another focus found within
this issue. STEM classrooms contain powerful learning environments that are derived from hands-on activities that our
engineering students and budding scientists need, especially in today’s actively imbedded technology-based classrooms
and society at large. Furthermore, a united theme seems to pique feelings of equal importance within this issue
between that of SoTL and STEM.

While it is not uncommon for those in education to understand the principles and theories of how we learn, some in the field
of study may not know the history and early beginnings for the inclusion of STEM-related topics within the K-12 curriculum
and the gender inequality investigations that followed once the historical journey and the rise of STEM in education began.
At the turn of the century, there was a paradigm shift from the need to focus upon general educational requirements to
an increase in content to support the learning of STEM topics! A call to action was declared by President Obama through
legislation and newer policies for both K-12 and higher education. Policies were made to improve K-12 education to reduce
skill gaps between graduates and the workforce. As our nation continued to create a semi-informal but nationwide educational
gap analysis to identify how to transition our classrooms for greater inclusion, other issues arose. Research findings highlighted
disparities related to the persistent inequality within the STEM fields of study ranging from lacking socio-economic representation
to less than expected rates of women pursuing majors in this field. Thus, bringing to the forefront, the need for more diverse
learning environments within all programs for better inclusion of those found to be underrepresented in the field, and a further call
for investigations of this nature. Conversely, national events were created to drum up support and enthusiasm for STEM-related
learning, such as national learning and computing events, a greater promotion of Engineering week, hack-a-thons, corporate
sponsored robotic competitions, gaming and science fairs, and the rise of the Maker Movement. However, funding was identified
as the number one barrier in continuing to support these efforts. Thus, creativity in our approaches was needed.

Now, there is an overwhelming call to improve classroom learning in fields related to science and engineering, greater than before.
This call to action asks us to prepare our students for a world that will never be devoid of technology in which to create. Additionally,
in order to increase the number of STEM-trained workforce members while maintaining consistency and educational quality, we
must continue to find innovative teaching methods, tools, and supportive pathways for our students. As discussions and
investigations continue, there is a resurgence in research questions asking (a) what is effective, (b) what works in the classroom,
and (c) what affects do industry needs and culture play upon our educational system. Furthermore, while lacking diversity within
any program may be an issue of high importance, it is also highly important to continue to uncover successful learning activities
for the field of science and engineering due to workforce demands.

STEM investigations are important as the need for additional workforce professionals increases. This is a unique field and we need
to be mindful that professionals in this field have the ability, once trained, to create wondrous, yet serendipitous events and creations.
In turn, their learning environments should be reflective of this notion, and contain a parallel learning environment to that of their future
workforce settings as they transition from novice to expert to employment. It is our duty then, as educators, to showcase findings that
explore effective teaching methods, best classroom practices, cultural impacts, and newer teaching tools on all levels and
within all curriculum.

Therefore, the summer issue of AEQ will not disappoint and provide you with a harmonious blend of these topics for exploration.
So, sit back, feel that summer breeze, whether warm or cold, and enjoy the next installment of AEQ.

Wendi M. Kappers, Ph.D.
Discipline/Program Chair Information Security Assurance
Assistant Professor Department of Technology Management
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Daytona Beach/Worldwide Campuses
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