Galvanizing Science Departments

Science  04 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5945, pp. 1181
DOI: 10.1126/science.1180564

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Countless reports have stressed the economic and broad societal benefits to be gained from improved science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for all students. At the higher education level, there is extensive evidence that innovative teaching methods improve student learning and are practical to implement. Yet these methods remain at the periphery, and the traditional lecture model continues to dominate, particularly at large research universities. This fact poses a major problem for improving science education at all levels, because these institutions generally set the norms for how to teach science and what it means to learn science. To effectively change STEM education at the university level, a majority of the faculty in a given university department must become collectively engaged in implementing new curricula and teaching methods. In other words, an entire department must be the unit of change.