Education ForumScience Education

Anatomy of STEM teaching in North American universities

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Science  30 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6383, pp. 1468-1470
DOI: 10.1126/science.aap8892

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Summary

A large body of evidence demonstrates that strategies that promote student interactions and cognitively engage students with content (1) lead to gains in learning and attitudinal outcomes for students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses (1, 2). Many educational and governmental bodies have called for and supported adoption of these student-centered strategies throughout the undergraduate STEM curriculum. But to the extent that we have pictures of the STEM undergraduate instructional landscape, it has mostly been provided through self-report surveys of faculty members, within a particular STEM discipline [e.g., (36)]. Such surveys are prone to reliability threats and can underestimate the complexity of classroom environments, and few are implemented nationally to provide valid and reliable data (7). Reflecting the limited state of these data, a report from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine called for improved data collection to understand the use of evidence-based instructional practices (8). We report here a major step toward a characterization of STEM teaching practices in North American universities based on classroom observations from over 2000 classes taught by more than 500 STEM faculty members across 25 institutions.