Conclusion and Epilogue

The visions articulated in this report are based on evidence provided by the scholarly literature and input from hundreds of people in the SME&T higher education community who spoke with the Committee on Undergraduate Science Education (CUSE) at its meetings or during the committee's regional symposia and topical forums. On this basis, these visions—and the accompanying implementation strategies—were designed to be applicable to many types of American postsecondary institutions. Some might claim that achieving meaningful reform across this range of institutions and on as broad a front as undergraduate SME&T education is nearly impossible, however. Indeed, when CUSE began work in 1993 to find ways to improve the scientific literacy of all undergraduates, many members wondered about the potential success of their mission. Subcommittees were formed to deal with curricular issues, teaching and learning issues, and the culture of higher education. Most members of the committee at that time was convinced that the third subcommittee faced the most difficult challenge. Changing any cultural paradigm that is deep-seated, that has served many of its members well, and that is at least tolerated by others is a difficult challenge, particularly when the desired change needs to be both substantial and sustainable.

Over the course of five years, CUSE discussed with hundreds of scientists, mathematicians, engineers, administrators, and others in both the higher education and pre-college SME&T communities how to produce sustainable change in SME&T education (e.g., see Preface and Appendix A). As a result of these discussions, the committee became firm in its resolve to focus on fundamental, systemic reform of undergraduate SME&T education in the interests of advancing the levels of scientific literacy of all Americans. Committee members agreed with the prevailing view among representatives of higher education that fundamental changes in K-12 science and mathematics education are essential to any reform efforts. But they also took the view that improving undergraduate SME&T education is equally—and possibly even more—critical for achieving lasting improvement in SME&T education.

There have been so many attempts to introduce programs of large-scale reform to education, especially in the K-12 sector, that many faculty have adopted a "this, too, shall pass" attitude. CUSE members believe, however, that a variety of circumstances now conspire to induce long-lasting change in pre-college and postsecondary education in the United States. In addition to the findings and recommendations in this report, other recent reports from highly respected panels have emphasized the need for change in undergraduate SME&T education (e.g., National Research Council, 1996a; National Science Foundation, 1996b; Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University, 1998; and "A Teachable Moment," a report from a Pew Science Program in Undergraduate Education roundtable discussion on the virtues of hands-on, inquiry-based approaches to science curricula and pedagogy [Institute for Research on Higher Education, 1998]). The recommendations in these reports about how to improve undergraduate education are quite similar. For example, the report from the Boyer Commission, the Pew roundtable, and this report all stress the



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--> Conclusion and Epilogue The visions articulated in this report are based on evidence provided by the scholarly literature and input from hundreds of people in the SME&T higher education community who spoke with the Committee on Undergraduate Science Education (CUSE) at its meetings or during the committee's regional symposia and topical forums. On this basis, these visions—and the accompanying implementation strategies—were designed to be applicable to many types of American postsecondary institutions. Some might claim that achieving meaningful reform across this range of institutions and on as broad a front as undergraduate SME&T education is nearly impossible, however. Indeed, when CUSE began work in 1993 to find ways to improve the scientific literacy of all undergraduates, many members wondered about the potential success of their mission. Subcommittees were formed to deal with curricular issues, teaching and learning issues, and the culture of higher education. Most members of the committee at that time was convinced that the third subcommittee faced the most difficult challenge. Changing any cultural paradigm that is deep-seated, that has served many of its members well, and that is at least tolerated by others is a difficult challenge, particularly when the desired change needs to be both substantial and sustainable. Over the course of five years, CUSE discussed with hundreds of scientists, mathematicians, engineers, administrators, and others in both the higher education and pre-college SME&T communities how to produce sustainable change in SME&T education (e.g., see Preface and Appendix A). As a result of these discussions, the committee became firm in its resolve to focus on fundamental, systemic reform of undergraduate SME&T education in the interests of advancing the levels of scientific literacy of all Americans. Committee members agreed with the prevailing view among representatives of higher education that fundamental changes in K-12 science and mathematics education are essential to any reform efforts. But they also took the view that improving undergraduate SME&T education is equally—and possibly even more—critical for achieving lasting improvement in SME&T education. There have been so many attempts to introduce programs of large-scale reform to education, especially in the K-12 sector, that many faculty have adopted a "this, too, shall pass" attitude. CUSE members believe, however, that a variety of circumstances now conspire to induce long-lasting change in pre-college and postsecondary education in the United States. In addition to the findings and recommendations in this report, other recent reports from highly respected panels have emphasized the need for change in undergraduate SME&T education (e.g., National Research Council, 1996a; National Science Foundation, 1996b; Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University, 1998; and "A Teachable Moment," a report from a Pew Science Program in Undergraduate Education roundtable discussion on the virtues of hands-on, inquiry-based approaches to science curricula and pedagogy [Institute for Research on Higher Education, 1998]). The recommendations in these reports about how to improve undergraduate education are quite similar. For example, the report from the Boyer Commission, the Pew roundtable, and this report all stress the

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--> importance of inquiry-based and interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning in the early undergraduate years and adequate preparation and experience in teaching for graduate students. Other forces also are at work that postsecondary faculty, departments, and institutions increasingly must heed. National and statewide standards and curriculum frameworks are being implemented for K-12 science and mathematics education. Legislators in many states are demanding greater accountability and firm assurances from postsecondary faculty in public institutions that undergraduates are receiving a quality education (Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University, 1998). Federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (1997b), increasingly are requiring proposals for research grants to indicate how the proposed research and its results will improve educational opportunities for students. Private foundations, such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Exxon Education Foundation, are now providing large-scale financial support to improve SME&T education at the K-12 and undergraduate levels. The support for reform outside of postsecondary institutions is strong and compelling. Increasingly, the committee has witnessed support for changing SME&T education from inside these institutions, as well. This is heartening, for improvement in education can be truly successful only when those who must implement recommended reforms embrace them. In the five years of CUSE's existence, the members have seen evidence of increasing numbers of college and university SME&T faculty who recognize the need to restructure undergraduate SME&T education and who are willing to work individually and collaboratively toward that end. In addition, organizations that represent higher education and professional disciplinary societies are examining their roles in catalyzing educational change. Examples of programs sponsored by such organizations include Project Kaleidoscope's Faculty for the 21st Century (F21) program,29 which is a five-year effort to locate and support up to 1,000 pre-tenured faculty in SME&T disciplines who have been recognized for their SME&T education potential. F21 members gather annually at national meetings to discuss and work through the many facets of changing undergraduate and K-12 education. New Experiences in Teaching (Project NEXT)30 and Workshop for New Physics Faculty,31 which seek out newly appointed postsecondary faculty in mathematics and physics, respectively. These faculty then get together for several weeks during the summer to focus on quality teaching. The American Association for Higher Education's "Teaching Initiative," including the "Peer Review of Teaching Project,"32 in which major universities have examined ways to incorporate peer review of teaching, especially formative review, into the evaluation of faculty performance. The National Research Council's newly initiated study of how the evaluation of SME&T teaching can be improved, which will consider the special circumstances involved with teaching in SME&T disciplines (e.g., teaching laboratories, field studies, and mentoring of undergraduate student researchers). This study also will examine how learning outcomes by students can be factored into teaching evaluations and how such approaches might provide a basis for ongoing professional development for SME&T faculty. The Council of Graduate Schools, which has sponsored the "Preparing Future 29   Additional information about Faculty for the 21st Century is available at <http://www.pkal.org/faculty/f21/index.html> 30   Additional information about Project NEXT is available at <http://archives.math.utk.edu/projnext/> 31   Additional information about the Workshop for New Physics Faculty is available at <http://www.aapt.org/programs/newnfcl.html> 32   Additional information about this project is available at <http://www.aahe.org/>

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--> Faculty" initiative33 to enable graduate students at large research universities to experience first hand the roles and responsibilities of faculty members at a variety of institutions that serve undergraduate students. The presidents of postsecondary institutions affiliated with the Association of American Universities, who recently commissioned a "Task Force on K-16 Education" to explore how to define entrance requirements in light of K-12 reform standards, how to articulate introductory undergraduate course objectives, and how to prepare future teachers and provide continuing professional development to practicing teachers. (Recommendations were expected in 1998.) The increasing numbers of professional societies that are both recognizing members for effective teaching or public outreach in education and devoting time at their annual meetings to discussions of undergraduate SME&T education and to workshops to enable society members to share good ideas and practices in teaching and learning with colleagues. In December of 1997, representatives from a number of disciplinary societies convened at a conference on their role in improving SME&T education within their own disciplines and across disciplines. This activity was one of a series of symposia sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) following the publication of its report, Shaping the Future: New Expectations for Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (1996b). A summary report of the discussions held during this activity is available (Project Kaleidoscope, 1998). In addition, the Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences recently released a report on the role of professional societies in the life sciences in promoting education (Coalition for Education in the Life Sciences, 1998). The actions of organizations with influence over specific disciplinary programs. For example, the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has introduced new and highly flexible program accreditation criteria that place more responsibility on postsecondary institutions to determine the mission and goals of their engineering programs. ABET also will expect these programs and their sponsoring institutions to demonstrate how the goals have been achieved. Engineering programs will be expected to demonstrate that their graduates have the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the engineering profession, including understanding the impact of engineering solutions to problems in global and societal contexts. In mathematics, the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (PBM), an organization that communicates the importance of mathematics to government officials and the public, recently established a task force "to provide the postsecondary mathematical community with resources for enhancing the educational activities of faculty." The task force is charged with helping "institutions and departments reflect on their educational missions, determine the range of educational activities that should 'count' in the promotion and tenure process given their missions, and document educational activities in reliable and meaningful ways."34 Increasing numbers of reports and other publications, which provide specific examples and case studies of innovative undergraduate SME&T courses and programs (e.g., McNeal and D'Avanzo, 1997; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 1996a). The Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research 33   More information about this program is available at <http://www.cgsnet.org/programs/pff.htm> 34   More information about this program is available at <http://www.maa.org/data/news/jpbm%2Deaf.html>

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--> University's report (1998), which cites numerous examples of innovative undergraduate education programs at research universities. A recently released report, The Integral Role of the Two-Year College in the Science and Mathematics Preparation of Prospective Teachers (Virginia Collaborative for Excellence in the Preparation of Teachers, 1998), describes 11 exemplary science and math programs found in two-year colleges across the nation. While these efforts are noteworthy and important, CUSE members believe that individual faculty, their departments, individual institutions of higher education, and umbrella organizations, such as professional disciplinary societies and higher education organizations, need to act together toward common goals. As suggested throughout this report, the undergraduate SME&T education enterprise involves too many players, objectives, and levels of engagement for change in any one component to have a significant, long-lasting impact by itself. As also indicated in this report, professional disciplinary societies and higher education organizations have particularly critical roles to play in bringing the component parts of the higher education system together. For example, these organizations can bring together innovators from different postsecondary institutions to share their successes and failures in improving SME&T education and to disseminate best practices beyond individual departments or institutions. In the end, dissemination of such information will have little effect unless individual faculty use that information to change their own teaching and to share their experiences with departmental and institutional colleagues. Most faculty who would like to change their teaching in existing courses or, as recommended in this report (see Vision 2 beginning on page 25) and elsewhere (e.g., Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University, 1998), to create new courses that are truly interdisciplinary in scope and presentation, may not yet have the time, resources, or support and encouragement from their departments or institutions. CUSE members would urge faculty at least to try small, easily accomplished changes that could be evaluated for their efficacy and serve as the basis for additional improvements. For example, faculty could change an existing course in one way in each semester it is taught and base subsequent changes on feedback received from both current and former students and from colleagues. Given their increasing emphasis on incorporating more real world examples and hands-on projects into courses and curricula and their traditional ties to industry, colleges of engineering can provide valuable insights and guidance to other science and mathematics departments that are looking to revamp their own programs. For these reasons, faculty and administrators in colleges of arts and sciences should consider consulting with their engineering colleagues for advice and feedback in this process. Faculty and administrators in other professional schools (e.g., schools of law and medicine) and at two-year colleges also might be in a position to provide examples of how courses have been revised to include more case studies and approaches to problem solving. All of these colleges and schools within postsecondary institutions have a vital interest in quality undergraduate SME&T programs. By working together, they can make changes to undergraduate SME&T courses and programs more dynamic and fruitful within their own programs as well as across the nation. This type of recommendation also can be extended to SME&T departments. Change could begin by reserving one or two departmental meetings per semester to talk about the goals of the curriculum and what students emerging from courses in the department should know and be able to do after completing introductory and more advanced courses. Faculty who have revised their courses could discuss these changes with and solicit

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--> comments from departmental colleagues. SME&T departments also could invite colleagues from the school of education to one of those meetings (and vice versa!) to focus on issues of teacher preparation and professional development in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. Graduate and postdoctoral students also could be invited. One or several presentations in the department's colloquium series during a semester or an academic year could be devoted to critical issues in SME&T teaching and learning. What, ultimately, will change the predominant culture in institutions serving undergraduates? What will change the prevailing norms in undergraduate SME&T education and in the preparation of K-16 teachers of SME&T? We know much more now than we did even 10 years ago about how students learn (e.g., National Research Council, in press) and how to make good use of this knowledge in classrooms and laboratories (e.g., National Research Council, 1997a), if we choose to do so. Perhaps changes in practice will come from national and state efforts to provide standards for K12 science and mathematics education that stand to give us greater confidence in coming years that more students who enter college are more well prepared in the SME&T disciplines than ever before. Perhaps it will be our willingness to capitalize on this better preparation to provide undergraduate students with greater depth of understanding and appreciation of these subjects. Or to use information technology resources now available at previously unimaginable levels. Surely, change will occur when we take advantage of these resources—as individuals, departments, and institutions. Surely, it will occur when teaching and learning are viewed as worthwhile and important as other scholarly pursuits (Boyer, 1990). The committee recognizes that implementing the visions of this report will require new funds or shifts in the allocation of existing resources from within postsecondary institutions. Depending on factors such as institutional governance and the progress that departments and institutions already have made in improving undergraduate SME&T education, costs may vary considerably from institution to institution. However, the evidence and information provided throughout the body of this report and the perspectives offered by participants at the regional symposia and topical forums (see Appendix A) suggest that change is both needed and, most likely, inevitable. The committee hopes that this report will stimulate serious discussions at all higher education institutions that also will take into account the need for new or reallocated resources to implement and support such change.