The Students and Instructors of STEM Education

Two recent studies by Cengage Learning identify the four unique types of students enrolled in STEM education courses, and the three types of instructors who teach them. From self-reliant doers and resourceful strugglers to tech-savvy instructors, find out which group matches your personality!



Who are they?

  • Mix of full-time and part-time students
  • 21-24 years old


  • Confident in their math ability
  • Self-reliant in their courses
  • Grade-oriented
  • Set aside a single block of time to study each week

What’s most important?

  • Task-Completers want help studying for upcoming tests/exams and to easily complete assignments required by their instructor.


Who are they?

  • Full-time students
  • 20 years old


  • Find math difficult
  • Struggle with recall from prior courses
  • Only have time to study for less than an hour a few times each week

What’s most important?

  • Help-Seekers want to store and access their personal notes from class as well as collaborate with their peers.


Who are they?

  • Full-time students
  • 19-20 years old


  • Make time to study between 1 and 2 hours per week
  • Struggle with recall from prior courses
  • Find instructors engaging

What’s most important?

  • Selective Seekers want to check their grades, access instructor lecture notes as well as view and read their book online.


Who are they?

  • More likely to be part-time students
  • 25 years old or more


  • Find math difficult
  • Reliant on laptop for their courses
  • Dedicated studier in first 2 weeks of course
  • Frequently go to instructor and tutor when stuck on a homework problem

What’s most important??

Strugglers want to know what they’re doing wrong, and receive help identifying prior knowledge gaps, and personalized support.


29% High Engagers

  • Actively try to understand how well students are understanding material at all stages of the course
  • Often use PowerPoint slides
  • Regularly require students to hand in their work

34% Selective Engagers

  • Plan to increase use of online tools in the classroom
  • Intrigued by potential cost savings of online tools

37% Traditionalists

  • Primarily teach lecture-based instruction
  • Use whiteboard or chalkboard
  • Want an efficient way to deliver tests online

You can also download a PDF of this infographic.

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