•   describe the intellectual and material resources that are required to further develop DBER.


The committee defined DBER as a collection of related research fields. DBER scholars in physics, chemistry, engineering, biology, the geosciences, and astronomy study similar problems, use similar methods, and draw on similar theories. However, the DBER fields also exhibit important differences that reflect differences in their parent disciplines and their histories of development.

As defined by the committee, the goals of DBER are to

•   understand how people learn the concepts, practices, and ways of thinking of science and engineering;

•   understand the nature and development of expertise in a discipline;

•   help identify and measure appropriate learning objectives and instructional approaches that advance students toward those objectives;

•   contribute to the knowledge base in a way that can guide the translation of DBER findings to classroom practice; and

•   identify approaches to make science and engineering education broad and inclusive.

To address these goals, DBER scholars conduct a wide range of studies that includes basic and applied research. Both types of research are valuable and important.

High-quality DBER combines expert knowledge of a science or engineering discipline, of the challenges of learning and teaching in that discipline, and of the science of learning and teaching generally. This expertise can, but need not, reside in a single DBER scholar; it also can be strategically distributed across multidisciplinary, collaborative teams.


DBER scholars have devoted considerable attention to effective instructional strategies and to students’ conceptual understanding, problem solving, and use of representations. Key findings from DBER are consistent with cognitive science research and studies in K-12 education.

To gain expertise in science and engineering, students must learn the knowledge, techniques, and standards of each field. However, across the disciplines, the committee found that students have incorrect understandings about fundamental concepts, particularly those that involve very large

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