Education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is essential for keeping up with the changing demands of today’s world. In fact, more and more young people are being encouraged to pursue STEM in order to be prepared for the growing STEM workforce. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that there were nearly 10 million STEM professionals in 2021, with occupations expected to continue to grow by about 11% by 2031.
Jobs in STEM fields are also lucrative, with higher annual earnings compared to non-STEM occupations. Before young students can think about breaking into STEM industries, however, they must be equipped with technical and real-world skills in their chosen profession. Such skills can be gained and honed by taking STEM classes. Below, this article will provide you with the best tips for effectively studying these subjects.
Best Tips for Studying Effectively for STEM Subjects
Use mnemonic devices
Mnemonic devices are a shorthand approach for learning and memorizing critical information. This is done by incorporating the information into an acronym, a song, or a rhyming sentence. Such auditory clues do not just improve your information recall skills, but they also help in committing useful terms and keywords into your long-term memory.
This is especially important for anatomy subjects, as memorizing thousands of words for body parts and processes is almost impossible. Since the sequencing of terms is also crucial when learning anatomy, one of the best ways to use mnemonics involves coming up with a sentence where every word’s initial corresponds to a specific terminology. Here are a few examples:
- Structure of the brachial plexus (Reach To Drink Cold Beer) – Roots Trunks Divisions Cords Branches
- Carpal bones (Some Lovers Try Positions That They Can’t Handle) – Scaphoid Lunate Triquetral Pisiform Trapezium Trapezoid Capitate and Hamate
- Atrioventricular valves (LAB RAT): Left Atrium: Bicuspid; Right Atrium: Tricuspid
Draw diagrams while studying
Research has shown that drawings are also effective for studying. But drawings in this context don’t necessarily mean doodles or elaborate sketches! Instead, they can come in the form of conceptual diagrams and mind maps. Mind mapping refers to writing down a central theme/main topic, then branching out with related ideas/concepts.
In a 2021 study published in the BMC Medical Education journal, health sciences students used mind mapping to collect a family’s health information and identify which social determinants of health they fall under. Findings indicate that mind maps facilitated easy recall of the information learned, allowing students who used it to score significantly higher in the examination than those who didn’t.
Aside from the health sciences, mind maps can also be useful for subjects like biology and environmental science, where you have to organize the hierarchy of concepts like kingdoms of life and ecosystems. While visual maps can be hand-drawn, you can also use software and tools like Canva and Miro to lay out concepts and ideas and color code them.
Schedule revision sessions
Note-taking is already a tried and tested study method, but you can take it further by scheduling regular and intensive revision sessions, especially for math-related subjects. As explained in an article on effectively studying for a math test by the educational app Studocu, these sessions help evaluate the amount of coursework you must study and will help you complete it ahead of time.
The same article recommends the 3-2-1 rule, which involves gradually lessening the number of practice tests and vocabulary you must review and how long you must review and correct your answers. This helps avoid cramming and ensures you get enough rest before the examination day. While reviewing and revising, Studocu’s app can be an effective tool for compiling notes and answering problem sets consisting of flashcards, definitions of terms, and practice questions.
Apply hands-on learning
As mentioned earlier in the introduction, being proficient in STEM subjects isn’t just about acquiring technical knowledge and skills. You’re also expected to know how to apply your learnings in real-world situations.
This is why it’s crucial to try practical experiments and at-home projects, like the ones covered in a previous list of ‘Hands-On Learning and Engineering Projects’. Such projects can enhance your problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills across areas like electronics, robotics, mechanics, and materials science.
Additionally, you can also leverage innovative technologies to learn more about chemical properties and how they apply in real life. In this case, the MolAR app uses augmented reality to transform your hand-drawn molecular structures into 3D drawings. Its other features include recognizing physical objects like food and then visualizing their molecules and proteins.
Conclusion: Best Tips for Studying Effectively for STEM Subjects
In summary, efficient and effective studying for STEM subjects involves using mnemonic devices, conceptual diagrams, revision sessions, and hands-on learning. As you integrate these learning tools and resources into your study plan, remember that you don’t have to do it alone! You can always collaborate with your peers in order to multiply your resources and be challenged to communicate what you’ve learned to others. Good luck!