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Module 4: Science, Technology, and Education

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  1. Module 4: Science, Technology, and Education Science and technology education from diverse perspectives • Science education controversies • Information technology and education • Women and science education • Race and science education

  2. Science Education • For nations, science is widely seen as a source of economic development. • For individuals, science provides access to economic and social advancement. • Education controls access to these opportunites, so science education programs are an important context where science deeply affects society.

  3. Today: Science Education Controversies Advanced Secondary Study • The National Academy as a source of advice on policy questions involving science. • Programs for advanced study of science in secondary schools as a window on science education more broadly. • Cognitive research as a methodology for evaluating educational programs. • Education at different levels: the secondary-college interface.

  4. The National Academy of Sciences • Created by Congress to advise the nation. • Consists of about 1000 scientists elected on the basis of research achievement. • It’s research arm, the National Research Council, conducts studies upon request by any agency of the government. • Those conducting a study (not necessarily members) are selected for their relevant expertise, and the selection is subject to public comment. • Several hundred investigations are conducted annually; extremely diverse (see partial current list). • Study committees work by consensus (usually). • Investigations must meet rigorous standards of peer review.

  5. Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools • 2-year study by the National Research Council, Center for Education. • Stimulated initially by TIMSS international comparisons. • Focused on AP and IB programs in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math. • Considers programs in light of research on learning and cognition. • Committee: scientist-researchers, teachers, educators with experience in teacher education and access/equity, cognitive scientists. • Supported by NSF, Dept. of Education.

  6. Committee Members • Jerry Gollub, Physics, Haverford/Penn (Co-Chair) • Philip Curtis, Math, UCLA (Co-Chair) • Camilla Benbow, Education, Vanderbilt • Hilda Borko, Education, UC Boulder • Wanda Bussy, IB Math Teacher • Glenn Crosby, Chemistry, Washington State • John Dossey, Mathematics, Illinois State • David Ely, AP Biology Teacher • J.K. Haynes, Biology, Morehouse • Deborah Hughes Hallett, Mathematics, U. Arizona • Valerie Lee, Education, Michigan

  7. Committee (cont.) and Staff • Stephanie Pace Marshall, President Illinois Math and Science Academy • Michael Martinez, Education, U.C. Irvine • Patsy Mueller, AP Chemistry Teacher • Joseph Novak, education, Cornell and U.W. FL • Jeannie Oakes, GSE, UCLA • Robin Spital, AP Physics Teacher • Conrad Stanitski, Chemistry, U. Central AK • William Wood,Biology, U. Colorado Boulder NRC STAFF: Jay Labov (Director); Meryl Bertenthal (Sr. Program Officer);

  8. Acknowledgements • 22 Members of Content Panels in physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics • Directors and 20 staff of the AP and IB programs • Experts on learning and cognition • Experts on the TIMMS Study • Many consultants: minority students; students with special needs • Survey of college admissions officers • NRC suppport staff and consultants • > $1 Million from NSF and the U.S. Dept. of Education

  9. Growth of Math/Science AP

  10. AP Physics Exams

  11. The AP Program • Developed by the College Board. • 11 courses in 8 science/math subjects. • Course outlines based on college surveys. • Elective, end-of-course exams, 760,000 per year; 1-5 scale; 34% do not take the exams. • Limited specific advice to teachers. Actual courses vary widely. • Teacher preparation is quite diverse.

  12. International Baccalaureate Program • Started as an international standard for families stationed outside home countries. • 272 U.S. schools, 51,000 examinations • Most students are diploma candidates; integrated program of 6-7 courses over 2 years. • In-course and final examinations to measure knowledge, understanding, and cognitive skill. • Internal assessments: laboratory investigations; portfolios in mathematics • Not designed for college credit, but credit is sometimes given. • Monitored by IBO.

  13. Context of Advanced Study • Angst about performance of schools • Uneven resources: money; teachers; programs • Disparities in participation • Poor coordination between levels: middle school, high school, and college • Advanced study as currency for admission to college • Mis-use of advanced study programs • Differentiated vs. constrained curriculum (tracking) • Inadequate support and development opportunities for teachers.

  14. African American White 4 3.5 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 Minority Participation and Success in AP • Number of AP courses offered in schools declines as African-American and Hispanic population increases. (CA) • These groups under-participate by factor of 3-4 nationally. Mean AP Scores AP Bio Chem PhysB PhC-M PhC-EM CalcAB Calc BC Subject

  15. Misuses of AP and IB Exams in Ranking Schools and Evaluating Teachers • Counter to AERA Standards for Testing because uncontrolled for prior knowledge. • May cause teachers to discourage students from taking courses or exams. • Motivates teachers to teach to tests that are flawed. • Prevents schools from offering other rigorous options. • Emphasizing enrollment numbers can lead to inadequate preparation of students.

  16. The Recommendations:1. Primary Goal of Advanced Study • The primary goal - for students to achieve deep conceptual understanding of the content and unifying concepts of a discipline. • To develop skills of inquiry, analysis, and problem solving so that they become superior learners. • Acceleration and the aim of obtaining college credit compete with depth of understanding.

  17. 2. Access and Equity • Schools need a coherent plan extending from middle school through the last years of secondary school. Treat all students as potential future participants (in advanced courses) while in grades 6-10. • Course options with reduced academic content leave students unprepared for further study and should be eliminated. * • Improving access requires many parties to work together: • Invest in facilities and materials; train teachers; provide support systems for students.

  18. 3. Learning Principles • Programs of advanced study in science and mathematics must be made consistent with findings from recent research on how people learn. • Importance of principled conceptual knowledge; • The learner’s prior knowledge is used to create new understanding; • Motivation and confidence affect learning; • Self-monitoring of learning improves proficiency; • Context of learning (practices and activities) shapes what is learned. • Current programs not designed with these principles in mind, but can benefit from this body of research.


  20. Example of Analysis of Programs based on Learning Principles • Role of Prior Knowledge: • Prerequisites: Neither the CB nor IBO specify the competencies students need prior to advanced study. • Inadequate preparation of students starting in middle school. • Inadequate attention to sequencing topics within courses for gradually increasing complexity. • Inadequate attention to diagnosing and correcting common misconceptions.

  21. Example of Analysis of Programs based on Learning Principles • Situated Learning: What is learned depends on the context of the learning experience. • AP Program does not assess ability to apply learning to new situations. • AP and IB programs do not emphasize interdisciplinary connections. • Programs make inadequate use of hands-on or inquiry-based laboratory experiences.

  22. A Framework for Evaluating Programs • Systematic program design based on learning principles is required for success: • Effective curricula in math and science are coherent, focused on important ideas, and sequenced to optimize learning. • Instruction begins with careful consideration of students thinking. • Assessment includes both process and content, aligned with instruction and desired outcomes. • Development opportunities for teachers are essential.

  23. 4. Curriculum • Curricula for advanced study should focus on a reasonable number of central organizing concepts and principles and their empirical basis. • Integration with earlier courses. Multiple year programs may help. • Requires collaborative team effort: teachers, scientists, experts in pedagogy. Repeated cycles of design and revision.

  24. 5. Instruction • Engage students in inquiry via opportunities to experiment, analyze, make conjectures argue, and solve problems. • Instruction: recognize differences among learners; employ multiple representations of ideas; pose a variety of tasks. • Program developers should suggest appropriate strategies to teachers. Current materials provide little assistance.

  25. 6. Assessment: During and After • Assessment should include content and process. • Final assessments influence instruction, so they need to measure what is important. • Avoid predictable formulaic questions; test conceptual understanding and thinking. • Need for research about what the examinations measure. • Teachers need assistance with with in-course assessments for practice and feedback. • Reporting: A single numerical score is not sufficiently informative.

  26. 7. Teachers and Prof. Development • AP and IB should specify the qualifications expected of teachers. • Schools must provide frequent opportunities for continuing professional development. • AP and IB should provide models of PD that foster quality instruction. • PD should emphasize deep understanding of content and subject-specific methods of inquiry. • Teachers need professional communities. • University science and mathematics departments can help.

  27. 8. Alternative Programs • Approaches to advanced study other than AP and IB should be developed and evaluated. • Many alternatives exist: collaborative programs; college sponsored enrichment; specialized schools; distance learning; internships; competitions. • Alternatives may increase access to advanced study or lead to novel and effective strategies. • Special needs of very high-ability students (top few %). • Important role for funding agencies.

  28. 9. Secondary-College Interface • Credit and placement decisions: base on multiple sources of information. • College admissionsdepartments: discourage taking advanced courses without doing well or taking the exams. • College and university scientists and mathematicians: focus our own courses on deep understanding, etc. • Departments: carefully advise undergraduates about benefits and costs of bypassing introductory courses.

  29. 10. Changes in AP and IB • CB: AP courses should not be designed to replicate typical introductory college courses. • CB and IBO: revise assessments to measure conceptual understanding and complex reasoning. • Both: provide guidance and assistance to schools and teachers on instructional practices and teacher qualifications. Lists of topics aren’t enough. • CB: Exercise more quality control over courses. • Both: discourage misuses of exam scores.

  30. The Full Report: • Explains how programs fit within the context of high schools; relationship to middle school and higher education. • Describes AP, IB, and alternatives in depth. • Reviews research on learning and its application to improving curriculum, instruction, assessment, and teacher prof. development. • Analyzes AP and IB programs for consistency with this research. • Describes misuses of these programs. • Presents recommendations for change. • Includes panel reports on Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics (web only).

  31. Content Panel Reports: Common Elements • Inadequate utilization of learning research. Programs not consistent with national standards; excessive content encourages memorization rather than conceptual learning. Insufficient interdisciplinary connections in AP. • Exams do not test conceptual understanding adequately. • Biology and chemistry courses are out of date. • Clear expectations for teacher and student preparation are needed. • Insufficient cooperation between schools and universities.

  32. Research Needs • Research on effectiveness is needed. Data appears to show that AP students exempted from college courses do well, but is flawed. • How are these courses actually implemented? • What instructional practices are effective in advanced study? • What do the tests actually measure (what cognitive processes are elicited)? • How are the colleges and universities affected?

  33. What will make all this happen? • Many different organizations and individuals need to cooperate to change this complex system: • Curriculum developers • School districts • Government • Colleges and universities