Policy ForumEducation

Teaching in a Research Context

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Science  28 Nov 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5650, pp. 1510
DOI: 10.1126/science.1091803

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Many science faculty at large research universities are unaware of recent education research showing that even large classes built around active, inquiry-based, collaborative learning are significantly more effective in promoting student understanding than are the traditional lecture and recitation courses still used for most lower level science instruction. Awareness and adoption of new teaching methods are inhibited by the current compartmentalization of teaching and research activities and by institutional and disciplinary reward structures that provide little incentive for improvement of teaching. This Policy Forum describes a new initiative from the National Research Council, the National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology, will provide annual hands-on intensive workshops modeled after the Cold Spring Harbor research courses. In these workshops, well known scientist-educators will work as facilitators with research university faculty members in the life sciences who wish to learn new teaching methods and help to promote awareness of an emerging revolution in undergraduate science instruction.