or very small temporal and spatial scales. Moreover, as novices in a domain, students are challenged by important aspects of the domain that can seem easy or obvious to experts, such as problem solving and understanding domain-specific representations like graphs, models, and simulations. These challenges pose serious impediments to learning.

DBER clearly shows that research-based instructional strategies are more effective than traditional lecture in improving conceptual knowledge and attitudes about learning. Effective instruction involves a range of approaches, including making lectures more interactive, having students work in groups, and incorporating authentic problems and activities.

To enhance DBER’s contributions to the understanding of undergraduate science and engineering education, the committee recommended the following:

•   Research that explores similarities and differences among different student populations

•   Longitudinal studies—including studies of the K-12/undergraduate transition—to better understand the acquisition of important concepts and factors influencing retention

•   More studies that measure outcomes other than test scores and course performance, and better instruments to measure these outcomes

•   Interdisciplinary studies of cross-cutting concepts and cognitive processes


The committee concluded that DBER and related research have not yet prompted widespread changes in teaching practice among science and engineering faculty. Different strategies are needed to more effectively translate findings from DBER into practice. These efforts are more likely to succeed if they are consistent with research on motivating adult learners, include a deliberate focus on changing faculty conceptions about teaching and learning, recognize the cultural and organizational norms of the department and institution, and work to address those norms that pose barriers to change in teaching practice.

To increase the use of DBER findings, the committee recommended that current faculty adopt evidence-based teaching practices to improve learning outcomes for undergraduate science and engineering students, with support from institutions, disciplinary departments, and professional societies. Moreover, institutions, disciplinary departments, and professional societies should work together to prepare future faculty who understand the findings of research on learning and evidence-based teaching strategies.

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