Fall 2010: Educational and pedagogical issues that arise in science courses

The idea for a reading group/journal club concentrating on science education research publications arose during a winter 2010 Scientific Teaching workshop. This club was organized by TEP and facilitated by Elly Vandegrift.

Week 2 – October 8

Weiman, C. 2007. Why not try a scientific approach to science education? Change Magazine

The purpose of science education is no longer simply to train that tiny fraction of the population who will become the next generation of scientists. We need a more scientifically literate populace to address the global challenges that humanity now faces and that only science can explain and possibly mitigate, such as global warming, as well as to make wise decisions, informed by scientific understanding, about issues such as genetic modification.

Week 3 – October 15

Colgoni, E. and C. Eyles. 2010. A new approach to science education in the 21st Century. EDUCAUSE Review 45(1): 10-11.

Modern society faces increasingly complex problems. To address these problems, higher education needs to produce a new type of scientist — one who understands a broad range of disciplinary approaches, is able to ask creative questions, and is trained to answer those questions with a wide range of tools. This 21st-century scientist must have a skill set that allows him or her to probe and explore problems, to find and critically evaluate information, to work productively as a member of a team, and to effectively communicate research findings to others.

Week 4 – October 22

Allen, D. and K. Tanner. 2007. Putting the Horse Back in Front of the Cart: Using Visions and Decisions about High-Quality Learning Experiences to Drive Course Design. CBE Life Sci Educ 6(2): 85-89

[A] systematic approach to designing significant learning experiences, often referred to as the “backward design process,” has been popularized by Wiggins and McTighe (1998) and is included as a central feature of Fink’s model for integrated course design (Fink, 2003). The process is referred to as backward because it starts with a vision of the desired results. The design process then works backward to develop the instruction. The design choices that constitute the beginning of the process in the common model of course design (described above in the Chris and Pat scenarios) would be made toward the end of the backward design process and would not drive the curriculum. How you teach might become as important as what you teach.

Week 5 – October 29

DeHann, R.L. 2009. Teaching creativity and inventive problem solving in science. CBE Life Sci Educ 8(3): 172-181.

Engaging learners in the excitement of science, helping them discover the value of evidence-based reasoning and higher-order cognitive skills, and teaching them to become creative problem solvers have long been goals of science education reformers. But the means to achieve these goals, especially methods to promote creative thinking in scientific problem solving, have not become widely known or used. In this essay, I review the evidence that creativity is not a single hard-to-measure property. The creative process can be explained by reference to increasingly well-understood cognitive skills such as cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control that are widely distributed in the population. I explore the relationship between creativity and the higher-order cognitive skills, review assessment methods, and describe several instructional strategies for enhancing creative problem solving in the college classroom. Evidence suggests that instruction to support the development of creativity requires inquiry-based teaching that includes explicit strategies to promote cognitive flexibility. Students need to be repeatedly reminded and shown how to be creative, to integrate material across subject areas, to question their own assumptions, and to imagine other viewpoints and possibilities. Further research is required to determine whether college students’ learning will be enhanced by these measures.

Week 6 – November 5

Joe, J.N., J.C. Harmes, and C.L. Barry. 2008. Arts and Humanities General Education Assessment: A Qualitative Approach to Developing Program Objectives. The Journal of General Education 57(3): 131-151.

A critical stage of the assessment process is the development of learning objectives. In this study, learning outcomes for general education in the arts and humanities were identified through content analysis with thematic networks. The findings provide additional support for qualitative approaches in developing program-level learning objectives.

Worthen, B.R., J.R. Sanders, and J.L. Fitzpatrick. 1996. Program Evaluation: Alternative Approaches and Practical Guidelines. 2nd Edition. New York:Longman, Inc. pg. 81-96. (For electronic copy please contact Elly Vandegrift.)

Week 7 – November 12

Karsai, I., and G. Kampis. 2010. The Crossroads between Biology and Mathematics: The Scientific Method as the Basics of Scientific Literacy. BioScience 60 (8): 632-638.
http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1525/bio.2010.60.8.9 **You will need to be logged into the UO libraries to access this article**

Biology is changing and becoming more quantitative. Research is creating new challenges that need to be addressed in education as well. New educational initiatives focus on combining laboratory procedures with mathematical skills, yet it seems that most curricula center on a single relationship between scientific knowledge and scientific method: that of the validity of knowledge claims, judged in terms of their consistency with data. Collecting data and obtaining results (however quantitative) are commonly part of science, but are not science itself. We envision that the operative use of the complete scientific method will play a critical role in providing the necessary underpinning for the integration of math and biology at various professional levels.

Week 8 – November 19

Allen, D. and K. Tanner. 2005. From a scholarly approach to teaching to the scholarship of teaching. Cell Biol Educ 4(1): 1-6.

We live in a time when the seeds of change in science education have borne fruit all around us. The rhetoric of the calls for change issued by national scientific societies and agencies is supported by the reality of compelling examples of change, accomplished by scientists who have rethought the way they teach, the way they think about teaching, and the way they define themselves as science educators (Handelsman et al., 2004Project Kaleidoscope, 2004).

Week 9 – November 26

No meeting due to the holiday.

Week 10 – December 3

Palmer, P.J. The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Chapter 5: pg 115-140.