According to a new report from the National Research Council, solid evidence exists for what needs to be done to improve undergraduate science education, but these findings have not yet widely implemented.
Results from discipline-based education research in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering have yielded insights into ways to improve undergraduate instruction. One example is that traditional lectures are not as successful at imparting information as are student-centered learning strategies, such as interactive learning activities, students working in groups, and incorporation of authentic problems and questions into lessons.
Another barrier to learning is that students often misunderstand fundamental concepts, such as topics that involve very large or very small scales of time and space. Additionally, students have difficulty understanding graphs, models, and simulations.
The report calls for universities and scientific societies to work to support faculty efforts to use evidence-based teaching strategies, as well as train future faculty who value effective teaching.
Read the report at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13362.
Faculty members interested in participating in systemic changes to how the life sciences are taught in the post-secondary educational environment are also encouraged to apply to become a Vision and Change Leadership Fellow - a new joint initiative of the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. For more information about this program, please visit http://www.aibs.org/public-policy/news/initiativelaunchedtochangeundergraduatebiologyeducation.html#032203.
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