[EAS]Science/Engineering Teachin

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Fri Nov 15 00:47:25 EST 2002

Subject:   Science/Engineering Teaching

(from Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 14, 2002)

Math and Science Professors Are Not Trained to Teach, Report Says

Most professors of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
receive little training in how to teach those subjects, according to
a new report that encourages universities to value good teaching as
highly as good research. 

The report, released on Wednesday by the National Academies'
National Research Council, said that professors in those disciplines
should receive more instruction on how to tell if students are
learning, as well as how to evaluate their own classroom
performance. Currently, however, few programs exist to help
professors improve their teaching, the report said. 

Among other measures, the report suggests that: 

*	Colleagues should observe an instructor's courses and provide
feedback on classroom presentation and curriculum. 

*	Administrators should look at such data as how many students drop
a particular course and how many go on to take other courses in that
discipline to determine teaching effectiveness. 

*	Student evaluations should not be the only source of information
about a professor's performance when making decisions about tenure
and promotion. Peer reviews and teaching portfolios should also be
taken into account. 

*	At least one senior university official should be in charge of
encouraging improvement in teaching. 

*	Departments should pay for teaching programs and encourage
research that examines student learning. 

The full report, "Evaluating and Improving Undergraduate Teaching in
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics," can be purchased
on the National Academies' Web site

Also strongly recommended for insights into effective teaching is
- Richard Light's book "Making the Most of College" (Harvard
University Press, 2001), and
- the work of David Hestenes, whose Force Concept Inventory was an
eye-opener when I first encountered it in the early '90s. E.g. see
references at <http://modeling.la.asu.edu/R&E/Research.html>.


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