Sizing Up Education Specialists

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Science  01 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6025, pp. 14
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6025.14-c

Attempts to include education training into already demanding science faculty schedules have been challenging. One solution is the introduction of Science Faculty with Education Specialties (SFES), scientists who take on education roles, into science departments. This may increase support for faculty development and innovation in teaching and increase departmental interest in research on teaching and learning. Minimal data are available on the purpose, structure, and outcomes of SFES, however. In order to learn more about these positions, Bush et al. surveyed SFES and non-SFES faculty members within the California State University System (CSU). Despite SFES existing across all science disciplines, faculty ranks, and CSU campuses, their role is still not well defined. SFES reported teaching the same amount as their non-SFES peers, and the same proportion of SFES reported being engaged in science education research as reported being engaged in basic science research. Although SFES had formal education training, the amount of actual training reported was minimal, which suggested that science departments still prefer to hire scientists trained in basic research. The majority of SFES thought that they are making a difference; however, almost 40% were considering leaving their positions because of concerns that their work in education was not supported, valued, or understood.

CBE Life Sci. Educ. 10, 25 (2011).

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