One of the first revelations for STEM teachers has been that STEM tends to level the academic playing field quickly for students who are typically struggling learners. Distinguishing them from the high achievers in the STEM classroom is frequently difficult. These classroom events become peak motivational experiences for the less-academically proficient student.
For many students, feeling a sense of competence through STEM lessons can constitute the first in-school learning occasion that has a tendency to conceal their “low-achiever” stigma rather than to broadcast it. More importantly, this motivational boost can thwart the tendency toward “performance avoidance,” where academic insecurities entice struggling students to dodge classroom participation at any cost in order to mask their well-known history of learning failures.