. "2 The Emergence and Current State of Discipline-Based Education Research." Discipline-Based Education Research: Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012.
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Discipline-Based Education Research
study, but at this point cannot lay claim to being a field in the way that the individual DBER fields can. The newer DBER fields are emerging in a more purposeful way by leveraging prior work in physics education research and, particularly in the case of engineering education research and geoscience education research, working collaboratively with cognitive scientists and other social scientists.
Although multiple pathways to becoming a DBER scholar are, and will likely continue to be the norm, careful attention to what constitutes quality education in DBER at the graduate and postdoctoral levels is needed because professional standards of preparation within communities are nascent. There is almost no research tracking the success of DBER graduates, and none at all relating the professional success of DBER scholars to the nature of their backgrounds and preparation. To date, little attention has been directed on preparing undergraduate students for DBER careers or even making undergraduates aware that DBER exists. Sufficient, rigorous preparation in the science or engineering discipline and education research presents a challenge.
Professional societies have a role to play in both establishing and disseminating professional standards, as is happening in physics education research and chemistry education research. Biology education research faces the particular challenge of communicating with more than 100 professional biological research societies within the United States. The formation of SABER, which cuts across the biological subfields, should attenuate this disparity with its singular focus on education research.
Funding for research and training is uneven across the fields of DBER. DBER scholars receive funding from a mix of sources: those that are dedicated to research in the parent discipline and those that are dedicated to research on teaching and learning more broadly. The relative proportion of funding from each of these sources varies across the fields of DBER.
The analysis using two of Fensham’s structural criteria—journals and research centers—reflects the predictable tension in DBER between advancing the research itself and increasing the use of DBER findings. Education research centers, funding programs, and some journals blend both goals. As in any discipline, DBER scholars strive for high quality research, which will be evaluated more fully in subsequent chapters of this report. Many DBER scholars, their disciplinary colleagues, their professional societies, and funding agencies are motivated by the critical need to reform science and engineering education informed by DBER findings. Clearly articulating the distinction between discipline-based education research and the application of DBER findings—and embracing the value of both—is important for ensuring continued advancement of the research, promoting improvement in undergraduate education, and enhancing synergies between the efforts.