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Interdisciplinary Research in Mathematics, Science, anti Technology Education Committee on Research in Mathematics, Science. and Technology Education Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington D.C. 1987
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COMMITTEE ON RESEARCH IN MATHEMATICS, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION 1984- 1986 JAMES G. MARCH (Chair), Stanford University (political science ARNOLD B. . ARONS, University of Washington (physics ~ W. O. BAKER, Bell Telephone Laboratories , Inc ., retired ~ chemistry) MICHAEL COLE, University of California, San Diego (psychology) MARGARET B. DAVIS, University of Minnesota (biology) F REDERICK ERICKSON, Univers ity of Pennsylvania (anthropology) ROBERT GlASER, University of Pittsburth (education, psychology) ANDREW M. GLEASON, Harvard University (mathematics) MICHAEL A. GUILLEN, Harvard University (mathematical physics ~ JILL H. lARKIN, Carnegie-Mellon University (psychology and educational computing) CORK B. MARRED, University of Wisconsin (sociology) SAMUEL J. MESSICK, Educational Testing Service, Inc., Princeton, N.J. (psychometrics) PAUL E. PETERSON, Brookings Institution, Washington, I).C. (political science) MARE TAGGERS, University of California, Irvine ~ chemistry) DAVID E. VILELY, Northwestern University (education) SENTA A. RAIZEN, Study Director ROLF K. BlANK, Research Associate iii
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Preface The Committee on Research in Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education was established by the National Research Council in 1984 to help improve education in these fields through research and the application of research results . Subsequently, the National Science Foundation asked the committee to prepare this report because of its interest in fostering involvement of scientists in collal~orati~re research with educators to address problems in science and mathematics education. Over the past several years, there have been examples of successful collaboration hong mathematicians and natural scientists who are concerned with ache s~cructure and development of knowledge in their fields,- behavioral and social scientists who are concerned witch how students learn, and educators with experience in the classroom. While these collaborations have proved productive for mathematics and science education, there has been a paucity of this kind of work, in part became ache organ- ization of research along disciplinary lines and current academic incentive systems do not encourage scientists to engage in interdisciplinary research, particularly in an applied area like education. A forthcoming report by ache Committee on Basic Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (1987) makes the point more generally: promis- ing opportunities for in~cerdisciplinary collaboration exist is many basic and applied research fields but will demand creative innovations in modes of research-suppore and operation of academic institutions. In this report the committee attempts deco answer several practical questions with regard to increas ing interdisciplinary research in science and mathematics education: What kinds of problems in science and mathematics education need an interdisciplinary research
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approach? What can be learned about incentives and strategies for in~cerdisciplinary research from previous interdisciplinary projects in science and-mathematics education and from interdisciplinary research in other fields? What specific programmatic ini~cia~cives by a federal agency are likely deco increase the interest and activity of scientists ~ education researchers, and edu- cators in interdisciplinary research? This is the second report of the committee. In its initial report 9 Mathematics. Scienge. and Technology Education: A Resaarcts,~Age~da (1985~9 the committee recommended directions for research that would address critical problems in the teaching asked learning of science and mathematics in schools: developing student skills in reasoning and problem-solving, improving the quality of the curricula and teaching in science and mathematics, restructuring the classroom to allow for more hands-on learning expert ences, and applying information technology to mathematics and science education. Many of the re- search priorities identified in the committee'. first report in face call for tr~terdisciplinary work of the kind discussed in this report. The committee is grateful to marry people for their assistance in preparing this report. The scientists and ma~ematiciar~s who were leaders of the curiculum projects in the 1960s made a major contribu~cio~a by providing us with information and insight floor thee r experience ~ We also Want to than the National Science Formation for support of the committee for this project; special appreciation is extended deco Raymond Hannapel of ache Foundation's Science and Engineering Education Direc- tc~rate g who encouraged the committee deco pursue a study on this topic. Appreciation is due also deco the National Research Council staff9 who made our work possibleO Seneca Raizen, study director, made major contributions deco the substance and organization of this report, as did Rolf Blank, research associate. Eugenia Grohman, associate director for reports of the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, added to the clarity of the report and managed its production. JAMES G O MARCH 9 Chair Committee on Research in Mathema~cics, Science, and Technology Educa~cion Hi
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Contents THE ROLE OF INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH The Need for Change, 1 The Need for Collaboration, 4 Barriers to Collaboration, 5 Overcoming the Barriers to Collaboration, 9 2 RESEARCH NEEDS IN SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS EDUCATION The Mathematics and Science Curriculum, 13 The Knowledge and Skills of Teachers, 22 Settings for Learning, 25 Change in Schools, 30 EXPERIENCE WITH INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH The Curriculum Pro] ects of the 1960s, 34 Examples of Interdisciplinary Research in Other Fields, 46 Some Theoretical Considerations, 49 What Has Been Learned, S3 1 13 34 4 RESEARCH PROGRAM ALTERNATIVES 57 Program Dimensions, 57 Program Options, S9 Long-Range Planning, 71 APPENDIX: LETTER OF INQUIRY REFERENCES vii 73 79
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