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tions, such as faculty participation in workshops to educate them on effective instructional practices and dissemination of instructional experiences through professional societies and other regional and national organizations. Many participants felt that developing support structures within science departments for effective research in science education was an important step toward improving science education.
This chapter summarizes participants’ discussions in regards to the institutional or departmental qualities listed above.
FOCUS ON STUDENTS’ SKILLS FOR LEARNING ON THEIR OWN
How does one measure gains in students’ abilities to learn on their own? McCray emphasized that introductory science courses need to focus on students’ learning skills of scientific reasoning and information gathering as much as on science content, and on helping students take greater responsibility for their own learning. The content in science fields is growing so rapidly, he noted, that it has become virtually impossible to transmit it all. In addition, the paths chosen by students are very diverse; the specific content needed by a student who will go on to medical school is different from the content needed by someone who will become a biologist or a K–12 teacher.
Thus, teaching the skills necessary to learn on one’s own is most important. The faculty’s role is to help students understand the skills necessary to learn on their own—to seek out resources, make decisions based on evidence, assess one’s understanding of these skills and abilities, and apply these skills to relevant content—and to promote students’ taking responsibility for their own learning. Anton Lawson, Arizona State University, added that instructors should be aware of the reasoning skills and abilities students have when they enter the classroom and the need to focus on developing those to a higher level throughout the course. Students should also leave science courses with an appreciation and understanding of the nature of science.
INSTITUTIONAL SYSTEMS THAT PROMOTE EFFECTIVE INSTRUCTION
Ramon Lopez, University of Texas at El Paso, acknowledged these were important learning objectives, but suggested that efforts focused only on individual instructors are insufficient to bring about the required level of change. He called on Jack Wilson, UMassOnline, to describe further how