Recent Perspectives on Undergraduate Teaching and Learning

This report addresses a crucial challenge to changing and improving undergraduate education in the United States: how to evaluate the effectiveness of undergraduate teaching in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM1) in ways that will enable faculty to enhance student learning, continually improve teaching in these fields, and allow faculty to develop professionally in the practice and scholarship of teaching and learning. Although many view higher education in the United States as among the best such systems in the world, there have been numerous calls for reform,

particularly in the STEM disciplines. Top-ranking policy makers (e.g., Greenspan, 2000; Seymour, in press) have stated that globalization of the economy, significant advances in scientific discovery, and the ubiquity of information technologies make it imperative for all U.S. students (grades K–16) to understand the methods and basic principles of STEM if they are to succeed. Recent reports from the National Science Foundation ([NSF], 1996, 1998), the National Science Board (2000), the National Research Council (NRC), (1996b, 1999a), and others (e.g., Boyer Commission, 1998) have challenged the nation’s colleges and universities to ensure that all undergraduates increase their knowledge and understanding of STEM and the relevance of these disciplines to other areas of learning and human endeavors.


This abbreviation for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, taken from the official designation of the National Science Foundation for education in the disciplines, is used as shorthand throughout the report.

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