2
Characterizing and Mobilizing Effective Undergraduate Teaching

In a recent address, Zimpher (1998) offered the following predictions:

  1. Teaching will be more public than it ever has been before. It will be open to inspection, discussion, and increasing accountability.

  2. The nature and quality of assessment will change. Faculty will teach within a culture of evidence that will place great importance on demonstrating learning outcomes.

  3. Evaluation and documentation of teaching will change. It will be done more systematically and rigorously and will involve multiple methods and sources.

  4. Teaching will become technologically enabled. Instructional technology will be used within the classroom as well as for anytime, anyplace learning.

  5. Content transmission will not be the focus of teaching. As information continues to grow and be readily available in many forms, the focus will be on helping learners to know how to access information, evaluate it critically, and use it to solve problems.

  6. Curriculum and program design will be inseparable from teaching and learning. Coordination, integration, and teamwork will be hallmarks in the future.

  7. Diversity will be seen as assetbased. Higher education will realize that all benefit when different perspectives and cultures are included.

  8. Different pedagogies that students have experienced prior to college will change their expectations about good teaching. They will come with values for collaborative and active learning, and for contextual, experiential approaches, such as service learning.

  9. Higher education facilities will have to look different. Rooms will have to be flexible to accommodate the new pedagogies and they will have to be technologically sophisticated.

  10. A new scholarship of teaching will occur. Value will be placed on systematically exploring teaching issues and researching experiments with new approaches and conditions affecting student learning.



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2 Characterizing and Mobilizing Effective Undergraduate Teaching In a recent address, Zimpher (1998) offered the following predictions: Teaching will be more public than it ever has been before. It will be open to inspection, discussion, and increasing accountability. The nature and quality of assessment will change. Faculty will teach within a culture of evidence that will place great importance on demonstrating learning outcomes. Evaluation and documentation of teaching will change. It will be done more systematically and rigorously and will involve multiple methods and sources. Teaching will become technologically enabled. Instructional technology will be used within the classroom as well as for anytime, anyplace learning. Content transmission will not be the focus of teaching. As information continues to grow and be readily available in many forms, the focus will be on helping learners to know how to access information, evaluate it critically, and use it to solve problems. Curriculum and program design will be inseparable from teaching and learning. Coordination, integration, and teamwork will be hallmarks in the future. Diversity will be seen as assetbased. Higher education will realize that all benefit when different perspectives and cultures are included. Different pedagogies that students have experienced prior to college will change their expectations about good teaching. They will come with values for collaborative and active learning, and for contextual, experiential approaches, such as service learning. Higher education facilities will have to look different. Rooms will have to be flexible to accommodate the new pedagogies and they will have to be technologically sophisticated. A new scholarship of teaching will occur. Value will be placed on systematically exploring teaching issues and researching experiments with new approaches and conditions affecting student learning.

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In light of these predictions, what steps are institutions of higher education and supporting organizations taking to mobilize faculty and resources to enhance learning for undergraduate students? Graduate students, faculty, and administrators from all types of postsecondary institutions in the United States are increasingly interested in the revamping of teaching practices to enhance student learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) (see Rothman and Narum, 1999). In part, this increased interest has stemmed from observations by faculty that their approaches to teaching may not result in the expected levels of student learning (e.g., Hestenes, 1987; Hestenes and Halloun, 1995; Mazur, 1997; Wright et al., 1998). Some faculty and departments are confronting the pedagogical and infrastructural challenges of offering smaller classes (e.g., the need for additional instructors to teach more sections), especially for introductory courses. Others are using innovative approaches to teaching based on emerging research in the cognitive and brain sciences about how people learn (e.g., National Research Council [NRC], 2000c). Still others are experimenting with the effectiveness of different learning strategies to accommodate the broader spectrum of students who now enroll in STEM courses as undergraduates. Many individual faculty and departments are actively engaged in moving undergraduate education from a faculty-centered teaching model to a student-centered learning model (Barr and Tagg, 1999). Moreover, numerous campuses in the United States and abroad are establishing teaching and learning centers.1 As these centers evolve, they are supporting new pedagogies and more efficient methods of assessing teaching and learning, and are serving as focal points for efforts to advance the scholarship of teaching and learning (Boyer, 1990; Glassick et al., 1997; Ferrini-Mundy, personal communication). Many of these centers are increasingly tailoring their assistance to faculty to reflect differences in approaches and emphases among disciplines. Experts in these discipline-based centers are often disciplinary faculty with expertise in pedagogical content knowledge, assessment of learning, and other issues specific to their disciplines (see also Huber and Morreale, 2002). 1   A list of websites of teaching and learning centers of colleges and universities in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, and North America is available at <http://www.ku.edu/~cte/resources/websites.html>.

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Many of the professional organizations and disciplinary societies with which university and college faculty affiliate are making the improvement of teaching and learning in undergraduate STEM a component of their missions and programs. Higher education organizations, government agencies, and private foundations are sponsoring workshops on student learning and supporting summer workshops on new teaching methods. They are engaging graduate students in programs that can better prepare them to become stimulating future faculty and encouraging faculty to present papers or posters on their teaching or research in education at professional meetings.2 These organizations also are publishing books, reports, and journal articles that address teaching and learning (e.g., Boyer Commission, 1998; Herron, 1996; Ireton et al., 1996; Landis et al., 2001; National Institute for Science Education, 2001c; NRC, 1991, 1995b, 1996b, 1997a, 1999a; Uno, 1997). The remainder of this chapter reviews the key characteristics of effective teaching, as well as challenges faced by those seeking to become more effective instructors. CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE TEACHING If teaching and student learning are to improve, faculty and those who evaluate them must recognize the characteristics of effective teaching. The research literature contains many examples of successful standards and practices for effective teaching that are based on evidence of enhanced student learning (e.g., Braskamp and Ory, 1994; Centra, 1993; Davis, 1993: Lowman, 1995; McKeachie, 1999; Neff and Weimer, 1990; Perry and Smart, 1997; references in NRC 2000c, 2001, and 2002b). On the basis of that literature, the committee articulates five characteristics of effective teaching that can be used as a starting point for improving teaching. In Chapter 6, these characteristics are elaborated as criteria that could serve as the basis for evaluating teaching effectiveness. 1.Knowledge of Subject Matter Although it appears obvious, any list of characteristics of high-quality teaching of STEM that is centered on desired student outcomes must begin with the premise that faculty members must be 2   Examples are Microbiology Education, published by the American Society of Microbiology; Journal of Chemical Education, published by the Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society; and Physics Today, published by the American Institute of Physics.

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well steeped in their disciplines. They must remain active in their areas of scholarship to ensure that the content of their courses is current, accurate, and balanced, especially when presenting information that may be open to alternative interpretation or disagreement by experts in the field. They also should allow all students to appreciate “… interrelationships among the sciences and the sciences’ relationship to the humanities, social sciences, and the political, economic, and social concerns of society” (NRC, 1999a, p. 26). Knowledge of subject matter can be interpreted in other ways. For example, several recent reports (e.g., Boyer Commission, 1998; NRC, 1999a; National Science Foundation [NSF], 1996) have emphasized that the undergraduate experience should add value in tangible ways to each student’s education. Faculty must teach subject matter in ways that encourage probing, questioning, skepticism, and integration of information and ideas. They should provide students with opportunities to think more deeply about subject matter than they did in grades K–12. They should enable students to move intellectually beyond the subject matter at hand. Faculty who possess deep knowledge and understanding of subject matter demonstrate the following characteristics: They can help students learn and understand the general principles of their discipline (e.g., the processes and limits of the scientific method). They are able to provide students with an overview of the whole domain of the discipline (e.g., Coppola et al., 1997). They possess sufficient knowledge and understanding of their own and related sub-disciplines to answer most students’ questions and know how to help students find appropriate information. They stay current through an active research program or through scholarly reading and other types of professional engagement with peers. They are genuinely interested in what they are teaching. They understand that conveying the infectious enthusiasm that accompanies original discovery, application of theory, and design of new products and processes is as important to learning as helping students understand the subject matter. 2. Skill, Experience, and Creativity with a Range of Appropriate Pedagogies and Technologies Deep understanding of subject matter is critical to excellent teaching, but not sufficient. Effective teachers also understand that, over the course of their

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educational experiences, undergraduates develop different strategies for maximizing their individual abilities to learn, reason, and think critically about complex issues (King and Kitchener, 1994; National Institute for Science Education, 2001c; NRC, 1997a, 1999a). To be most effective, teachers need to employ a variety of learning strategies and contextually appropriate pedagogies3 that serve the range of students’ learning styles (see, e.g., Annex Box 1-1, Chapter 1). Faculty who are effective in this regard demonstrate the following characteristics: They are organized and communicate clearly to students their expectations for learning and academic achievement. They focus on whether students are learning what is being taught and view the learning process as a joint venture between themselves and their students. They encourage discussion and promote active learning strategies (see Annex Box 1-1, Chapter 1). They persistently monitor students’ progress toward achieving learning goals through discussions in class, out-of-class assignments, and other forms of assessment. They have the ability to recognize students who are not achieving to their fullest potential and then employ the professional knowledge and skill necessary to assist them in overcoming academic difficulties. Along with these characteristics, an increasingly important component of pedagogy is the appropriate use and application of information technologies to enhance learning. Electronic networking, the Internet, remote sensing, distance learning, and databases and digital libraries (e.g., NRC, 1998b, 2000c; NSF, 1998)4 are changing fundamentally the ways in which teaching and learning take place in higher education. Although no one would suggest that top-quality instruction cannot be attained without the use of networking resources, instructional changes made possible through information technology are profound and have already imbued research communities in the natural sciences, mathematics, and 3   “Contextually appropriate pedagogies” is also known in the research literature as “pedagogical content knowledge” (defined earlier in note). 4   For further discussion of digital libraries and their importance in undergraduate STEM education, see Borgman et al. (1996) and NRC (1998b). NSF is now engaged in developing a digital national library for undergraduate STEM education (additional information is available at <http://www.ehr.nsf.gov/ehr/due/programs/nsdl>.

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engineering. Professional development can assist faculty in deciding whether and how they might use these tools most effectively for enhancing learning. The role of information technology in undergraduate classrooms, laboratories, and field environments is an important area for continued investigation (e.g., American Association for Higher Education [AAHE], 1996; Collis and Moonen, 2001; National Institute for Science Education, 2001a). As information and other technologies become more pervasive in teaching and learning of the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering, a faculty member’s use of such resources is likely to become an increasingly important component of teaching evaluations. As with other areas of pedagogy in which college-level faculty have had little formal training or professional development, they will have to learn appropriate and effective uses of hardware and software that are coupled with new ways of viewing teaching and learning. 3. Understanding of and Skill in Using Appropriate Assessment Practices In part, proficiency in assessment involves a faculty member’s skill in evaluating student learning. This skill is evident when teachers: Assess learning in ways that are consistent with the objectives of a course and integrate stated course objectives with long-range curricular goals. Know whether students are learning what is being taught. This requires that faculty be persistent in collecting and analyzing assessments of student learning and committed to using the data collected as a tool for improving their own teaching skills (see, e.g., principle 5 in Astin et al., 1996). Determine accurately and fairly students’ knowledge of the subject matter and the extent to which learning has occurred throughout the term (not just at the end of the course). 4. Professional Interactions with Students Within and Beyond the Classroom Teaching responsibilities extend beyond designing and offering courses. Faculty are expected to direct original student research and involve students as collaborators in their own research, advise and mentor students, participate in departmental and campus curricular committees, and sometimes supervise teaching assistants. Students may also view their teachers as role models for life as responsible, educated citizens. For example, beyond helping students learn scientific principles or technologi-

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cal processes, faculty can help them open their eyes to the ethical issues and political decisions that often affect science and technology (e.g., Coppola and Smith, 1996). Professionalism in a faculty member’s relationships and interactions with students also should be based on criteria such as the following: Faculty meet with all classes and assigned teaching laboratories, post and keep regular office hours, and hold exams as scheduled. They demonstrate respect for students as individuals; this includes respecting the confidentiality of information gleaned from advising or student conferences. They encourage the free pursuit of learning and protect students’ academic freedom. They address sensitive subjects or issues in ways that help students deal with them maturely. They contribute to the ongoing intellectual development of individual students and foster confidence in the students’ ability to learn and discover on their own. They advise students who are experiencing problems with course material and know how to work them in venues besides the classroom to help them achieve. On those occasions when students clearly are not prepared to undertake the challenges of a particular course, faculty should be able to counsel them out of the course or suggest alternative, individualized approaches for learning the subject matter. They uphold and model for students the best scholarly and ethical standards (e.g., University of California Faculty Code of Conduct).5 5. Involvement with and Contributions to One’s Profession in Enhancing Teaching and Learning Effective teaching needs to be seen as a scholarly pursuit that takes place in collaboration with departmental colleagues, faculty in other departments in the sciences and engineering, and more broadly across disciplines (Boyer, 1990; Glassick et al., 1997; Kennedy, 1997). Faculty can learn much by working with colleagues both on and beyond the campus, thereby learning to better integrate the materials they present in their own courses with what is being taught in other courses (Hutchings, 1996; NRC, 1999a). 5   The University of California System’s Faculty Code of Conduct Manual is available at <http://www.ucop.edu/acadadv/acadpers/apm/>.

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CHALLENGES TO EFFECTIVE TEACHING Faculty in the STEM disciplines face a number of challenges in seeking to become more effective teachers. Some of these challenges are common to all teaching and learning, while others are more endemic to these disciplines. Some of the more general challenges include improving the assessment of learning outcomes and preparing future teachers. More discipline-specific challenges include teaching a broad range and large numbers of students, providing engaging laboratory and field experiences, and encouraging students to undertake original research that increasingly is highly sophisticated and technical. Improving the Assessment of Learning Outcomes The committee took particular note of Astin et al.’s (1996) Assessment Forum: Nine Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning. Because these authors articulate succinctly the position the committee has taken in this report, their principles are presented verbatim in Box 2-1. These principles also could be applied in evaluating departmental programs. Preparing Future Teachers Scientists have an obligation to assist in science teachers’ professional development. Many scientists recognize the obligation and are ready to get involved. Scientists can provide opportunities for teachers to learn how the scientific process works, what scientists do and how and why they do it. They can provide research opportunities for practicing teachers; act as scientific partners; provide connections to the rest of the scientific community; assist in writing grant proposals for science-education projects; provide hands-on, inquiry-based workshops for area teachers (e.g., NRC, 2000a); and provide teachers access to equipment, scientific journals, and catalogs not usually available in schools. They can help teachers to review educational material for its accuracy and utility. When scientists teach their undergraduate classes and laboratories, potential science teachers are present. Scientists should recognize that as an opportunity to promote and act as a model of both good process and accurate content teaching and so strive to improve their own teaching (NRC, 1996c, p. 3).

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Box 2-1. Nine Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning 1. The assessment of student learning begins with educational values. Assessment is not an end in itself but a vehicle for educational improvement. Its effective practice, then, begins with and enacts a vision of the kinds of learning we most value for students and strive to help them achieve. Educational values should drive not only what we choose to assess but also how we do so. Where questions about educational mission and values are skipped over, assessment threatens to be an exercise in measuring what’s easy, rather than a process of improving what we really care about. 2. Assessment is most effective when it reflects an understanding of learning as multidimensional, integrated, and revealed in performance over time. Learning is a complex process. It entails not only what students know but what they can do with what they know; it involves not only knowledge and abilities but values, attitudes, and habits of mind that affect both academic success and performance beyond the classroom. Assessment should reflect these understandings by employing a diverse array of methods, including those that call for actual performance, using them over time so as to reveal change, growth, and increasing degrees of integration. Such an approach aims for a more complete and accurate picture of learning and therefore firmer bases for improving our students’ educational experience. 3. Assessment works best when the programs it seeks to improve have clear, explicitly stated purposes. Assessment is a goal-oriented process. It entails comparing educational performance with educational purposes and expectations—those derived from the institution’s mission, from faculty intentions in program and course design, and from knowledge of students’ own goals. Where program purposes lack specificity or agreement, assessment as a process pushes a campus toward clarity about where to aim and what standards to apply; assessment also prompts attention to where and how program goals will be taught and learned. Clear, shared, implementable goals are the cornerstone for assessment that is focused and useful. 4. Assessment requires attention to outcomes but also and equally to the experiences that lead to those outcomes. Information about outcomes is of high importance; where students “end up” matters greatly. But to improve outcomes, we need to know about student experience along the way—about the curricula, teaching, and kind of student effort that lead to particular outcomes. Assessment can help us understand which students learn best under what conditions; with such knowledge comes the capacity to improve the whole of their learning.

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5. Assessment works best when it is ongoing not episodic. Assessment is a process whose power is cumulative. Though isolated, “one-shot” assessment can be better than none, improvement is best fostered when assessment entails a linked series of activities undertaken over time. This may mean tracking the progress of individual students, or of cohorts of students; it may mean collecting the same examples of student performance or using the same instrument semester after semester. The point is to monitor progress toward intended goals in a spirit of continuous improvement. Along the way, the assessment process itself should be evaluated and refined in light of emerging insights. 6. Assessment fosters wider improvement when representatives from across the educational community are involved. Student learning is a campus-wide responsibility, and assessment is a way of enacting that responsibility. Thus, while assessment efforts may start small, the aim over time is to involve people from across the educational community. Faculty play an especially important role, but assessment’s questions can’t be fully addressed without participation by student-affairs educators, librarians, administrators, and students. Assessment may also involve individuals from beyond the campus (alumni/ae, trustees, employers) whose experience can enrich the sense of appropriate aims and standards for learning. Thus understood, assessment is not a task for small groups of experts but a collaborative activity; its aim is wider, better informed attention to student learning by all parties with a stake in its improvement. 7. Assessment makes a difference when it begins with issues of use and illuminates questions that people really care about. Assessment recognizes the value of information in the process of improvement. But to be useful, information must be connected to issues or questions that people really care about. This implies assessment approaches that produce evidence that relevant parties will find credible, suggestive, and applicable to decisions that need to be made. It means thinking in advance about how the information will be used, and by whom. The point of assessment is not to gather data and return “results”; it is a process that starts with the questions of decision-makers, that involves them in the gathering and interpreting of data, and that informs and helps guide continuous improvement. 8. Assessment is most likely to lead to improvement when it is part of a larger set of conditions that promote change. Assessment alone changes little. Its greatest contribution comes on campuses where the quality of teaching and learning is visibly valued and worked at. On such campuses, the push to improve educational performance is a visible and primary goal of leadership; improv

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ing the quality of undergraduate education is central to the institution’s planning, budgeting, and personnel decisions. On such campuses, information about learning outcomes is seen as an integral part of decision making, and avidly sought. 9. Through assessment, educators meet responsibilities to students and to the public. There is a compelling public stake in education. As educators, we have a responsibility to the public that supports or depends on us to provide information about the ways in which our students meet goals and expectations. But that responsibility goes beyond the reporting of such information; our deeper obligation—to ourselves, our students, and society—is to improve. Those to whom educators are accountable have a corresponding obligation to support such attempts at improvement. SOURCE: Astin et al. (1996); see <http://www.aahe.org/principl.htm>. This committee agrees with the conclusions expressed by other NRC committees (NRC 1999a, 2000b) that science faculty in the nation’s universities should, as one of their primary professional responsibilities, model the kinds of pedagogy that are needed to educate both practicing and prospective teachers. Those NRC reports provide a series of recommendations for how chief academic officers and faculty can work together to promote more effective education for teachers of mathematics and science. These recommendations include developing courses that provide all students with a better understanding of the relationships among the sciences, that integrate fundamental science and mathematics, and that help students understand how these areas of knowledge relate to their daily lives and to the world economy. Standards for teacher education and professional development for teachers are an integral component of the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996a); much useful information can be found in that document to help postsecondary faculty understand their role in promoting more effective teacher education. Contributing authors in Siebert and Macintosh (2001) offer advice and numerous examples of how the principles contained in the National Science Education Standards can be applied to higher education settings. An impending shortage of qualified K–12 teachers over the next decade (National Center for Education Statistics, 1999) will compound the shortage that already exists for elementary and secondary school science and math-

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ematics teachers. It should be noted that impending teacher shortages do not apply only to K–12 education. Declining graduate student enrollments in some disciplines suggest that having enough people who are qualified to teach undergraduate students, including those who may go on to become K–12 teachers, may become problematic in the future (e.g., Lovitts and Nelson, 2000). Even if the number of graduate students were to remain sufficient, it is important to recognize that most college-level faculty who currently teach in the STEM disciplines have never received formal preparation for teaching any students, let alone those who aspire to be teachers at either the precollege or university level. Institutions of higher education need to develop collaborative strategies for addressing this problem (Gaff et al., 2000; NRC 2000b). Teaching a Broad Range and Large Numbers of Students As science and technology play ever more pervasive roles in society, it is imperative that all students, not just those planning careers in these fields, develop an appreciation for and understanding of these subjects. This understanding must involve more than knowledge of some specific set of content. Faculty in the STEM disciplines have a special obligation to plan and conduct their courses in ways that make these disciplines relevant to the wide range of students who now enroll in them and often constitute the majority of students in lower division courses (Greenspan, 2000; NRC, 1999a). As numerous reports have suggested, this responsibility applies equally to academic departments (NRC, 1996b, 1999a; NSF, 1996; Project Kaleidoscope, 1995). Courses and programs offered to nonmajors in STEM can be very different from similar courses and programs in other disciplines. Introductory courses and programs (and sometimes more advanced courses) in the social sciences and humanities typically are geared toward any student who wishes to enroll in them. For mathematics and science, however, departments and institutions sometimes insist on offering separate introductory courses for prospective majors and nonmajors. In too many instances, faculty and departments view the offerings for nonmajors, especially at the introductory level, as “service courses” that may impose additional staffing and resource demands not found in other sectors of the university. As a result, many of these courses for nonmajors (and in some cases, those for majors as well) tend to have large numbers of students enrolled and are offered in large lecture halls. These kinds of facilities do not conform

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with the design of classroom and laboratory space that has been recommended for optimal teaching and learning by undergraduates (e.g., Project Kaleido-scope, 1995). Accumulating evidence suggests that nonmajors often fare better in smaller courses and inquiry-based laboratory experiences where they become actively engaged with the subject matter.6 Constraints on staff and limited financial resources may preclude science departments from offering these kinds of experiences, however. Such limitations may lead students to become disenfranchised, and the students may evaluate the courses and the instructors that teach them accordingly. Providing Engaging Laboratory and Field Experiences A number of national commissions and organizations have emphasized the importance of laboratory-rich teaching environments for undergraduates in the natural sciences (NSF, 1996; Project Kaleidoscope, 1991, 1994, 1998). Large amounts of time are needed to organize and oversee teaching laboratories and field experiences for undergraduates. Providing such experiences also requires effective programs to train graduate or undergraduate teaching assistants. If the laboratory experience is tied to a specific course, instructors also must commit time and effort to integrating the laboratory exercises with classroom work or to organizing the laboratory in ways that provide students with learning experiences not covered in class. Teaching laboratories that are independent from other courses (e.g., a technical skills laboratory) must respond to needs of both students and instructors in other courses. The exercise or experiment selected should be appropriate for the topic at hand. The design and execution of laboratory work, especially in courses with large numbers of students, also must emphasize safety and reflect consideration of potential impacts on the local environment. 6   Recent reports suggest that at least some barriers and limitations can be overcome by emphasizing inquiry-based approaches to learning during classroom instruction (e.g., Ebert-May et al., 1997). As defined by the National Science Education Standards, “Inquiry is a multifaceted activity that involves making observations; posing questions; examining books and other sources of information to see what is already known; planning investigations; reviewing what is already known in light of experimental evidence; using tools to gather, analyze and interpret data; proposing answers, explanations, and predictions; and communicating the results. Inquiry requires identification of assumptions, use of critical and logical thinking, and consideration of alternative explanations” (NRC, 1996a, p. 23). Additional detail on inquiry-based approaches to teaching and learning (focused on grades K–12 but applicable in many ways to higher education) can be found in NRC (2000a).

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If laboratory and field experiences (particularly in introductory courses and courses for nonscience majors) are to become integral components of undergraduate science and engineering education, the effectiveness with which these additional demands for teaching are met should be specifically recognized and evaluated in the reviews of individual instructors. Appropriate professional development should be made available to those faculty not familiar with inquiry-based laboratory experiences, who as a consequence may not have structured laboratory and field experiences to meet this important learning objective. Engaging Students in Original Research “Education through research” is becoming an increasingly popular and effective way for undergraduates to learn about science firsthand. With the increasing emphasis on engaging undergraduates in original or applied research, the one-on-one mentoring that takes place in supervised undergraduate research is one of the best predictors of students’ professional success (e.g., Doyle, 2000; NRC, 1999a; NSF, 1996). To properly oversee and mentor undergraduate students who undertake original research, faculty must have sufficient time to help students appreciate the scope and significance of their projects. Supervising faculty members may need to spend large amounts of time working with students to introduce them to the relevant literature, to use appropriate instrumentation and research protocols, and to understand laboratory safety protocols. It also is important for faculty supervisors to help undergraduates grow as researchers. Part of that supervision should include providing the training and experiences that all undergraduate students need to learn effective communication skills that ultimately will allow them to publish successfully in the scholarly literature or to deliver an appropriate presentation to colleagues. Failure is a routine part of research, and students should be allowed to experience it as appropriate. Students also should be given greater responsibility for overseeing projects and for working with other students as they demonstrate increasing maturity and research prowess. Involving graduate students or senior undergraduate students as cosupervisors of projects can provide important and effective introductory training for those who ultimately will seek teaching positions. It also may entail the integration of undergraduate research projects with those of graduate students or postdoctoral fellows working in closely related areas in the laboratory or the field.

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Supervision of undergraduate research should be viewed positively when evaluating a faculty member’s teaching and research. This is especially the case if a student’s work merits publication as a coauthor in the original literature or in a presentation at a professional conference. It is critical for faculty and administrators to understand that the criteria for evaluating teaching in these environments may be very different than is the case for more traditional classroom or laboratory situations. Department- or institution-wide instruments for evaluating and comparing teaching quality across disciplines may not reflect the different kinds of preparation and presentation that are required for these kinds of activities in the natural sciences and engineering. Thus, efforts should be made to adopt or adapt some of the newer instruments that are more appropriate for these kinds of teaching. Limitations on Faculty Knowledge of Research on Effective Teaching Given all of the above challenges, faculty in STEM who teach undergraduates could benefit greatly from practical guidance regarding techniques for improving learning among diverse undergraduate student populations. The scholarly literature and an increasing number of websites now provide this kind of assistance (see, e.g., Project Kaleidoscope <http://www.pkal.org> or the National Institute for Science Education <http://wcer.wisc.edu/nise>). However, many faculty never were introduced to this knowledge base during their graduate or postdoctoral years and have not acquired this perspective. These instructors may struggle through teaching assignments, often redeveloping techniques and approaches that others already have tested and disseminated.