IMPROVING UNDERGRADUATE INSTRUCTION
IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS

REPORT OF A WORKSHOP

Steering Committee on Criteria and Benchmarks for Increased Learning from Undergraduate STEM Instruction

Richard A. McCray, Robert L. DeHaan, and Julie Anne Schuck, Editors

Committee on Undergraduate Science Education

Center for Education

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu



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IMPROVING UNDERGRADUATE INSTRUCTION IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS REPORT OF A WORKSHOP Steering Committee on Criteria and Benchmarks for Increased Learning from Undergraduate STEM Instruction Richard A. McCray, Robert L. DeHaan, and Julie Anne Schuck, Editors Committee on Undergraduate Science Education Center for Education Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Contract/Grant No. ESI-0102582 between the National Academy of Sciences and National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Improving undergraduate instruction in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics : report of a workshop / Steering Committee on Criteria and Benchmarks for Increased Learning from Undergraduate STEM Instruction, Committee on Undergraduate Science Education, Center for Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education ; Richard A. McCray, Robert L. DeHaan, and Julie Anne Schuck, editors. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-309-08929-8 (pbk.) 1. Science—Study and teaching (Higher)—United States—Evaluation—Congresses. 2. Technical education—United States—Evaluation—Congresses. 3. Engineering—Study and teaching (Higher)—United States—Evaluation—Congresses. 4. Mathematics—Study and teaching (Higher)—United States—Evaluation—Congresses. I. McCray, Richard. II. DeHaan, Robert L. (Robert Lawrence), 1930- III. Schuck, Julie Anne. IV. National Research Council (U.S.). Steering Committee on Criteria and Benchmarks for Increased Learning from Undergraduate STEM Instruction. Q183.3.A1I493 2003 507'.1'173—dc21 2003009499 ISBN 0-309-50968-8 (PDF) Additional copies of this report are available from The National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Printed in the United States of America. Copyright 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2003). Improving undergraduate instruction in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics: Report of a workshop. Steering Committee on Criteria and Benchmarks for Increased Learning from Undergraduate STEM Instruction. Richard A. McCray, Robert DeHaan, and Julie Anne Schuck (Eds). Committee on Undergraduate Science Education, Center for Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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STEERING COMMITTEE ON CRITERIA AND BENCHMARKS FOR INCREASED LEARNING FROM UNDERGRADUATE STEM INSTRUCTION (2003) RICHARD A. McCRAY (Chair), Department of Astrophysics, University of Colorado, Boulder BONNIE J. BRUNKHORST, Institute for Science Education, California State University, San Bernardino SARAH C.R. ELGIN, Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO RONALD J. HENRY, Office of the Provost, Georgia State University JOHN R. JUNGCK, Department of Biology, Beloit College, WI ALAN C. KAY, Viewpoints Research Institute Inc., Glendale, CA ISHRAT M. KHAN, Department of Chemistry, Clark Atlanta University RAMON E. LOPEZ, Department of Physics, University of Texas, El Paso LILLIAN C. McDERMOTT, Department of Physics, University of Washington, Seattle ROBERT F. OLIN, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa JAMES W. SERUM, SciTek Ventures, West Chester, PA SUSAN R. SINGER, Department of Biology, Carleton College, Northfield, MN CARL E. WIEMAN, JILA and Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder ROBERT DeHAAN, Study Director MARY ANN KASPER, Senior Project Assistant JULIE ANNE SCHUCK, Research Associate

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Preface The Committee on Undergraduate Science Education (CUSE) has been an integral component of the Center for Education (CFE) of the National Research Council (NRC) since it was established in 1993. Charged by the NRC with responsibility for seeking ways to improve scientific literacy for all undergraduates, this standing committee has worked to identify, develop, and promote implementation of postsecondary programs that enrich students’ understanding and comprehension of science, and that enhance the scientific reasoning skills that they need for continued learning and success as scientifically literate citizens. To date, CUSE has been involved with several reports, among them Science Teaching Reconsidered: A Handbook (NRC, 1997); Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (NRC, 1999); and most recently Evaluating and Improving Undergraduate Teaching in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (NRC, 2003). Science Teaching Reconsidered was meant as a practical handbook designed for college teachers who want to explore new ways to enhance student learning. It drew on the current knowledge of both teachers and learning scientists to inform college instructors teaching undergraduate science courses. The 1999 report presents six vision statements for improving undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and multiple strategies for academic officers, faculty members, and departments to implement these visions. Vision two of that report, for example, calls for the development of introductory college courses that would present content information in ways that engage undergraduates in exploring the fundamental and unifying concepts and processes of science,

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emphasizing real problems, applications to related areas of knowledge, and the evolving processes of scientific thought and inquiry. The more recent report (NRC, 2003) recommends importantly that evidence of student learning be used as a benchmark for evaluating teaching effectiveness. That report also stresses the utility of ongoing self-study and evaluation by STEM departments and suggests a series of questions for departments to use in this process. In 2002, with new leadership and largely new membership, CUSE set about to build upon this background by convening a 2-day workshop covering instruction in the four major scientific disciplines (biology, chemistry, physics, geosciences) with the primary goal of developing criteria and benchmarks for evaluating undergraduate STEM program effectiveness. According to the charge from the NRC, the resulting workshop report was to include descriptions of general learning goals that could be refined by any department for each discipline, and a framework for developing instruments with which to assess achievement of those goals, uses of evidence, programmatic costs, and other criteria, as well as descriptions of selected exemplary programs. This report is the product of that gathering of some fifty expert participants in fields ranging from the scientific disciplines to educational psychology and sociology, national policy, information technology, and education research. Focusing on the question: “how is undergraduate instruction to be assessed?” panel members and discussants were required to ask what constitutes effective instruction. On the logic that effective instruction is that which maximizes student learning of specified learning outcomes, attendees were asked to consider a diverse set of goals: how to establish worthy learning objectives, how to take into consideration student pre-conceptions about a subject, what teaching strategies elicit comprehension rather than memorization, the characteristics of effective teachers, and the organizational and incentive structures of departments and institutions that promote effective instruction. The committee sees this workshop and resulting report as timely efforts. Pressures from within and beyond the academic community (business and industry, state legislatures, federal legislation) are mounting to improve student learning and to increase institutional accountability for that learning. Especially in lower division courses, expectations are that departments will enhance learning by a new emphasis on teaching with curriculum revision and improved instruction. In this report, the committee explores many of the questions raised by those expectations. We would like to thank the workshop

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participants, listed in Appendix D, who gave life to this gathering. The frankness and thoughtfulness of their contributions, both verbal and written, added greatly to the value of the vigorous discussions that characterized the event. Within the NRC, the committee wishes to thank Julie Anne Schuck, CUSE research associate, for her skillful writing and dedicated editorial work on the report, Mary Ann Kasper, senior program assistant for her able logistical coordination of the workshop and committee meetings, and Kirsten Sampson Snyder, for guiding us through the intricacies of the review and publication process. The committee extends its deep appreciation to Jay Labov, deputy director of CFE, for sharing his experience and perspective on this project from its inception. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Deborah Allen, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Delaware; Robert J. Beichner, Department of Physics, North Carolina State University; Thomas R. Berger, Department of Mathematics, Colby College, Waterville, ME; Jerry P. Gollub, Natural Sciences and Physics, Haverford College, Haverford, PA; David Gosser, Department of Chemistry, The City College of CUNY, New York, NY; and Lillian Tong, Center for Biology Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Melvin D. George, President Emeritus, University of Missouri, Columbia. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. Richard McCray, Chair Robert L. DeHaan, Director Committee on Undergraduate Science Education

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Contents 1   Introduction   1 2   Identifying Desired Student Learning Outcomes   10 3   Evaluating Effective Instruction   25 4   Promoting Effective Instruction at Departmental and Institutional Levels   50 5   General Discussion   69 6   Epilogue   78     References   82     Appendixes     A   Commissioned Papers   87 B   Reference Paper   127 C   Workshop Agenda   140 D   Workshop Participants   144 E   Biographical Sketches of Workshop Attendees   148

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