particular method is effective may find these articles helpful. There are also books on the art of teaching in a specific discipline (Arons, 1990; Herron, 1996). The objective of Chapter 1 and 2 is to acquaint you with the general principles and results of science education research and to provide examples of how these results have been translated into classroom practice so that you can improve your teaching as efficiently as possible.


Teaching and learning should be inseparable, in that learning is a criterion and product of effective teaching. In essence, learning is the goal of teaching. Someone has not taught unless someone else has learned. After a few years of teaching, many faculty realize that students learn too little of what they teach. Science teaching requires attention to both the content of the course and the process of moving students from their initial state of knowledge and understanding to the desired level. In fact, teaching is part of a whole that comprises the teacher, the learner, the disciplinary content, the teaching/learning process, and the evaluation of both the teacher and the learner.

Undergraduate students value good teaching, and many of those who switch from a science major to another field cite poor teaching as an important factor in their decision (Seymour and Hewitt, 1994). When the data from students who persist in a science major was combined with data from students who switched out of a science major, poor teaching by science faculty was the students' most frequently cited concern. Although students are turned off by poor teaching, they also have identified characteristics of good teaching:

  • a teacher's enthusiasm and passion for the subject,

  • rapport between a teacher and a student or group of students during discussions in and out of class,

  • intellectual challenges from a teacher,

  • clarity and organization in presenting analytical and conceptual understanding of ideas, and

  • a teacher's scholarship.

Teaching Styles

Research indicates that teachers teach in a manner consistent with their own way of learning (Shulman, 1990; Tobin et al., 1994). However, it is not necessarily true that student learning can be understood from the teachers' own learning history. What is your style of learning? Do you learn most easily if material is presented to you in a formal and structured manner, or do you learn most easily if you are forced to discover basic principles from a series of exercises and examples? Do you believe that your students will learn best if you use a teaching style that helped you learn as a student? Studies of teaching and learning have led to classification of teaching styles into three general categories: discipline-centered, instructor-centered, and student-centered (Dressel and Marcus, 1982; Woods, 1995).

In discipline-centered teaching, the course has a fixed structure. The needs, concerns, and requirements of teacher and student are not considered because the course is driven by and depends mainly on the disciplinary content that must be presented. The teacher transmits information, but the

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