undergraduate students who do not plan to declare SME&T or education majors. It provides strategies for implementation that are appropriate for the range of two- and four-year postsecondary institutions in this country.
Readers will note that while this report, its visions, and many of its strategies address the breadth of undergraduate SME&T education, many of the report's examples of innovative practice are drawn from undergraduate science education. The committee would like to state here that many of the issues being debated in science education also apply to mathematics, engineering, and technology education. For example, the issues and recommendations addressed in Engineering Education: Designing an Adaptive System (National Research Council, 1995a) are quite congruent with the issues and visions of this report. In addition, many of the federal agencies that support science education (e.g., the National Science Foundation) are calling for greater integration among the disciplines. This report addresses the larger SME&T community in that spirit, as well.
The committee acknowledges that achievement of the primary goal in the context of lasting reform will require execution of an exceedingly complex array of tasks by virtually all academic and service components of a college or university. This will require the commitment of faculty, academic administrators, academic support units (e.g., campus teaching and learning centers), facility planners, and undergraduate and graduate students. The organizational structure—and even the priorities of missions of many postsecondary institutions—will be fundamentally challenged. Therefore, committee members conclude that top officials in colleges and universities will need to play a special role: they will need to exert strong leadership, to display a deep understanding of the issues, and to provide tangible support for the necessary changes to take hold.
The committee also recognizes that implementing the visions of this report will require new funds or shifts in the allocation of resources. Costs may vary considerably from institution to institution. With the evidence and information provided in this report, the committee hopes to stimulate serious discussions at all higher education institutions that will take into account the need for new or reallocated resources to implement change.
What follows the statement of the primary goal, both here and in the body of the report, is a series of vision statements to which all postsecondary institutions might aspire. Extensive background and references support each vision statement, brief synopses of which are given below. Specific implementation strategies for improving many aspects of science education also accompany each vision, details of which are provided in the body of the report. These strategies for implementation indicate what chief academic officers, faculty members, and academic departments can do individually and collectively to improve undergraduate science education, and by so doing, ensure that many more citizens can become full participants in our nation's scientific and technological future.
All postsecondary institutions would require all entering students to undertake college-level studies in SME&T. Entry into higher education would include assessment of students' understanding of these subjects that is based on the recommendations of national K-12 standards.
If undergraduates are to view SME&T as an integral component of their education, the stage should be set long before they enter college. Ideally, their pre-college experience should have included both quality instruction in standards-based classrooms and a clear awareness that achievement in science, mathematics, and technology will be expected for admission to college. Once implemented,