Education ForumScience Education

Challenge faculty to transform STEM learning

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Science  16 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6258, pp. 281-282
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab0933

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Summary

Models for higher education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are under pressure around the world. Although most STEM faculty and practicing scientists have learned successfully in a traditional format, they are the exception, not the norm, in their success. Education should support a diverse population of students in a world where using knowledge, not merely memorizing it, is becoming ever more important. In the United States, which by many measures is a world leader in higher education, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) recommended sweeping changes to the first 2 years of college, which are critical for recruitment and retention of STEM students (1). Although reform efforts call for evidence-based pedagogical approaches, supportive learning environments, and changes to faculty teaching culture and reward systems, one important aspect needs more attention: changing expectations about what students should learn, particularly in college-level introductory STEM courses. This demands that faculty seriously discuss, within and across disciplines, how they approach their curricula.