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The Changing National Landscape of Science Education

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1 The Changing National Landscape of Science Education
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council Jay Labov Washington, DC Putting Scientific Teaching Into Practice ASCB Workshop, December 3, 2011

2 National Perspectives on Undergraduate Education in Biology
Learning Goals Recognize that you are not alone! Become familiar with recent national reports on the improvement of undergraduate education in biology and STEM more generally. Briefly explore the intersection between education and policy. Appreciate the influence of K-12 education on what you do and your role in influencing K-12 education.

3 Improving Undergraduate Science Education is Not Rocket Science
Premise 1: Improving Undergraduate Science Education is Not Rocket Science

4 Improving Undergraduate Science Education is Not Rocket Science
Premise 1: Improving Undergraduate Science Education is Not Rocket Science It’s a LOT harder!

5 Premise 2: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is.
A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” Wayne Gretzky

6 Given the radical changes in the nature of the science of biology and what we have learned about effective ways to teach, this is an opportune time to address the biology we teach so that it better represents the biology we do. – Transforming Undergraduate Education in Biology: Mobilizing the Community for Change, Vision and Change in Undergraduate Education.

7 Recognize that you are not alone!

8 NRC Center for Education (2002) NRC Board on Life Sciences (2003)
NRC Board On Science Education (2011) NRC Board On Science Education (2011)

9 American Association for the Advancement of Science &
National Science Foundation (2011) Association of American Medical Colleges & Howard Hughes Medical Institute (2009) College Board (2011)

10 National Research Council 2000 National Research Council 2003

11 A New Biology for the 21st Century: Why Now?
A moment of unique opportunity – Integration of subdisciplines within biology Cross-discipline integration: life science research by physical, computational, earth scientists, engineers Technological advances enable biologists to collect data unprecedented in quantity and quality Past investments providing value beyond what was expected

12 A New Biology for the 21st Century: Implications for Science Education
The New Biology Initiative provides an opportunity to attract students to science who want to solve real-world problems. The New Biologist is not a scientist who knows a little bit about all disciplines, but a scientist with deep knowledge in one discipline and a “working fluency” in several. Highly developed quantitative skills will be increasingly important. Development and implementation of genuinely interdisciplinary undergraduate courses and curricula will both prepare students for careers as New Biology researchers and educate a new generation of science teachers well versed in New Biology approaches. (p. 89)

13 AP Redesign Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Physics (2012-16)
Evidence of Learning The student can use representations and models to communicate scientific phenomena and solve scientific problems. The student can use mathematics appropriately The student can engage in scientific questioning The student can perform data analysis and evaluation of evidence The student can work with scientific explanations and theories The student is able to transfer knowledge across various scales, concepts, and representations in and across domains Science Panels Big Ideas / Unifying Themes Enduring Understandings Competencies Evidence Models (Formative Assessments)

14 Similarities in Thinking:
AP Biology Redesign (2011): The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life. Biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to reproduce and to maintain dynamic homeostasis. Living systems store, retrieve, transmit and respond to information essential to life processes. Biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties. Vision and Change (2011) The diversity of life evolved over time by processes of mutation, selection, and genetic change. Basic units of structure define the function of all living things. The growth and behavior of organisms are activated through the expression of genetic information in context. Biological systems grow and change by processes based upon chemical transformation pathways and are governed by the laws of thermodynamics. Living systems are interconnected and interacting.

15 AAMC/HHMI Committee Defines Scientific Competencies for Future Physicians
Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians recommends that medical and premedical education evolve from a static listing of courses to a dynamic set of competencies…This … will encourage the development of innovative and interdisciplinary science curricula, maintain scientific rigor, and allow premed students at the undergraduate level the flexibility to pursue a strong liberal arts education. Association of American Medial Colleges & Howard Hughes Medical Institute June, 2009

16 The redesigned AP curriculum focuses on merging content with the 21st century skills needed for college and career Transmission of information between neurons occurs across synapses. Content Skill Learning Objective + The student can create representations and models of natural phenomena and systems Tanya (9/26): ETS Item #VE511130…Must talk to ETS about embedding chart and cladogram into the next slide. I can’t figure out how to do it. I only placed the text of the question in the slide Talking Points: Gordon should show the connection between the Essential knowledge component, science practice and how they come together to form the learning objective …the related exam question is on the next slide. The student is able to create a visual representation to describe how nervous systems transmit information.

17 Performance

18 ssessment ccountability
Performance ssessment ccountability

19 Intersection Between Education and Policy
Increased emphasis on STEM education as an economic driver and the basis for maintaining international competitiveness Increased calls for accountability in higher education National levels State Levels

20 Science Education and Our Economic Future
“If I take the revenue in January and look again in December of that year, 90% of my December revenue comes from products which were not there in January.” Craig Barrett, Chairman of Intel “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” (NAS, NAE, and IOM, 2007) "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." Alvin Toffler, American Writer and Futurist 20

21 Critical Thinking Across Disciplines
Why 21st Century Skills? Shifting Job Market 20th Century 21st Century 1 – 2 Jobs 10 – 15 Jobs Number of Jobs: Mastery of One Field Critical Thinking Across Disciplines Job Requirement: Subject Matter Mastery Integration of 21st Century Skills into Subject Matter Mastery Teaching Model: 21st Century Jobs Require 21st Century Skills Subject Matter Mastery Integration of 21st Century Skills into Subject Matter Mastery Assessment Model: Courtesy of Linda Froschauer

22 Appreciate the influence of K-12 education on what you do and your role in influencing K-12 education

23 My Knowledge of K-12 Science Standards
I have examined national and my state’s standards for my discipline and have used that information in preparing for my introductory courses. I’ve skimmed either the national or my state’s standards. I know that such standards exist but have not looked at them. There are actually standards for K-12 science?


25 Teacher Education and National Standards
“Not long ago, a college chemistry professor grew angry with the way her daughter’s high school chemistry class was being taught. She made an appointment to meet with the teacher and marched with righteous indignation into the classroom—only to discover that the teacher was one of her former students.” National Research Council (1998)

26 WHY CHANGE? WHY NOW? Biology is in transition
Science education is in transition Society is in transition Increasing need for both broadly educated, integrative biology professionals as well as biologically literate citizens Education must change to meet the potentials and demands of the new biology and to realize the promise of science to society in the future SO WHY CHANGE AND WHY NOW? The 21st century will be the century of biology – we are in the midst of a revolution in what we understand about life on earth, and in the tools we use to gain this understanding. And there are urgent challenges facing society that intersect with the life sciences and that are well described in the new NRC report – A New Biology for the 21st Century. The last century has not only given us new tools and knowledge in the biological sciences – writ large. It has also given us new tools and insights about how people learn. It’s time to make sure our biology courses and curricula reflect the best of what our science has to offer, and that they reflect the best of what we know about how to connect teaching with learning. What Stands in the Way? Perhaps the answer lies in how our disciplines are defined and our institutions of higher education are organized. Biology is a rather fragmented discipline with ever more subspecialties emerging every decade since the early 1900’s. Adding to this fragmentation is the fact that biologists do not come together regularly under the umbrella of one professional organization. We meet as molecular biologists or ecologists, or as microbiologists or physiologists in our professional home societies, but rarely do we come together with a common purpose at life scientists. And the way people pursue higher education is changing too – with more and more people starting in two-year colleges and pursuing some of their training with distance education methods. These students expect their education to be relevant and relate to real life. And the future research enterprise depends on them having a disposition for and experience in collaborating on interdisciplinary problems. These are all challenges for higher education in the coming years. With this backdrop, it really is astounding that the vision and change initiative brought 100’s of life scientists came together who represented a broad array of subdisciplines and types of institutions. And their singular focus was on what is needed to foster biological literacy and to prepare the next generation of life scientists and citizens. C. Brewer, U MT, 2/2010

27 Student-Centered Classrooms and Learning Outcomes
Introduce scientific process early and integrate it throughout all undergraduate biology courses Research experiences should be an integral component of biology education for all students, regardless of major Active, outcome-oriented, inquiry-driven and relevant courses Define learning goals and align assessments to focus on conceptual understanding - use data to improve and enhance learning Ignite the passion for learning in our students SO WHAT ABOUT STUDENT – CENTERED CLASSROOMS and learning outcomes? We have made patchy progress on campuses to make courses more student-centered and to better link teaching with learning outcomes. And there is still much work to do in this arena. A clear message is that we need to do a better job of linking our teaching to student learning though carefully considered assessment. We are researchers after all – we have an opportunity to use classroom research methods and data to improve and enhance learning. Making this linkage is key to igniting a passion for learning biology in all of our students. C. Brewer, U MT, 2/2010

28 And Most Importantly: What Students Said…
Engage us Challenge us Help us develop critical thinking, analytical and communication skills Provide opportunities for research experiences and/or designing our own experiments Use analogies, NOT jargon Make learning relevant Give us ownership of our learning Infect us with your enthusiasm about the natural world Make your learning goals transparent to us Frederico Unglaub, Student, Universityersity of Colorado Among the many voices represented are those of students. The students at the meeting had a lot to say about their education. They want to be challenged, and to learn how to think and communicate. They want real research experiences. And they want what they are learning to be relevant and connected to real life. And the action items listed in the report reflect their perspective. … Tie what we’re learning into the Big Picture. Why is this important? Where did this come from (i.e., original literature)? Where does it fit in real life? And how does this relate to what we’re learning in other classes? …. C. Brewer, U MT, 2/2010 28

29 In a great irony, the academy itself may be the last obstacle to improving the quality of biology education for all students. Thus, raising the profile of science education within biology departments and ensuring that the academic culture values both faculty teaching and student learning should be everyone’s highest priorities, truly a cultural change on many campuses. Truly a profound cultural change is needed to improve biology education on many campuses around the country. A clear message from the conference is that it is high time for institutions to walk the talk of valuing teaching and raising the profile of education within science departments. It is in the interest of the students, the departments, the campus, and the future of the academy. C. Brewer, U MT, 2/2010

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