, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 253-269

The Impending Revolution in Undergraduate Science Education

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Abstract

There is substantial evidence that scientific teaching in the sciences, i.e. teaching that employs instructional strategies that encourage undergraduates to become actively engaged in their own learning, can produce levels of understanding, retention and transfer of knowledge that are greater than those resulting from traditional lecture/lab classes. But widespread acceptance by university faculty of new pedagogies and curricular materials still lies in the future. In this essay we review recent literature that sheds light on the following questions:

  • What has evidence from education research and the cognitive sciences told us about undergraduate instruction and student learning in the sciences?

  • What role can undergraduate student research play in a science curriculum?

  • What benefits does information technology have to offer?

  • What changes are needed in institutions of higher learning to improve science teaching?

We conclude that widespread promotion and adoption of the elements of scientific teaching by university science departments could have profound effects in promoting a scientifically literate society and a reinvigorated research enterprise.