. "2 Characterizing and Mobilizing Effective Undergraduate Teaching." Evaluating and Improving Undergraduate Teaching in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.
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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).