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Introduction: A Basic Orientation for a Focused Research Agenda Contemporary problems in American scientific education are well documented and extensively bemoaned (see, for example, National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983; National Science Foundation, 1983; Task Force on Education for Economic Growth, 1983; Twentieth Century Fund Task Force, 1983). Although the United States continues to make substantial contributions to science and technology and has a population able to function comparatively successfully within modern technologies, the mathematical competencies of American students appear to be inferior to those of comparable student groups in several other modern societies (Walberg et al. r no date; Stevenson, 1983; Travers, 1984), and achievement scores in science and mathematics have declined for 17-year-olds during the 1970s and 1980s (Hueftle et al., 1983; National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1983b). Moreover, variation among Americans in scientific and mathematical competence is high, with some minority groups particularly underrepresented among the scientifically literate (Holmes, 1980; Hueftle et al., 1983; National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1983a; National Center for Education Statistics, 1984). These disadvantages and disparities pose significant risks for American society. This report suggests some investments in research and development that would contribute to understanding the causes of and ameliorating our present deficiencies in education for mathematics, science, and technology. At the outset, however, we should observe that many of the inadequacies of scientific education are the consequences of choices, not ignorance. A country with a market economy that accords low status to science teachers and pays them poorly should not be surprised if the teaching of science is found wanting. A university that requires 1

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2 little mathematics for entry should not be surprised at having to remediate student deficiencies. A society that does not encourage women to pursue technical careers should not be surprised at large gender differences in technical knowledge. Desires for scientific literacy and excellence compete with other social values, and Americans have not been willing to resolve these conflicts in favor w~ ~~uprov~ng American capanz~t~es in mathematics, science, and technology or reducing disparities among groups. The members of this committee share an unusually strong commitment to the importance of education and particularly mathematics, science, and technology education. That commitment predisposes us to see considerable danger to our society in the choices reflected in our present educa- tional course, and we would be disingenuous to Ore tend neutrality. Our report, however, is intended not as an argument for the unconditional importance of science education but as an outline of a research and development agenda that will allow this society to make choices more intelligently and to do what it chooses to do more effectively and eff iciently . Education research has profited from variety, from a long tradition of having a relatively loose structure, multiple sponsors, and multiple agendas. without rejecting that basic strategy, we commend a somewhat more focused research agenda in this instance. We believe there is room for significant improvement in the knowledge and experience base in mathematical, scientific, and technological learning in the United States. Previous research in education has addressed a wide array of issues and has been synthesized for use in educational policy and practice (Kiesler and Turner, 1977; Shumway, 1980; Driscoll, 1982; Fey, 1982; Resnick, 1983; Shymansky, 1983; Glaser, 1984; Holdzkom and Lutz, 1984). A coherent, persistent, and broad-gauged research and development effort built on that base would facilitate a serious, nonfaddish improvement of American scientific education. Effective education in mathematics, science, and tech- nology requires the development of reasoning ability. We contrast reasoning with recalling facts in essentially the same form as they were learned. Reasoning involves making inferences from organized facts or using them to solve problems. It includes the ability to apply scien- tific concepts usefully. Learning to reason is therefore central to learning mathematics, science, and technology. But reasoning is hard to teach, and current efforts are

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often not successful. Although the curricula of the 1960s in mathematics and science led to some improvement in the learning of inferential skills and critical thinking skills (Sbymansky et al., 1983), the effects have not been maintained as these curricula have been replaced. Current studies on the outcomes of schooling show gains in elementary knowledge and skills by younger students-- the "basics n that the schools have been stressing--but higher-level processes are being acquired less well (Champagne and Rlopfer, 1977; National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1983a). Although other factors enter importantly into an effective education, a powerful factor influencing school learning is the amount of class time devoted to active teaching and learning of relevant skills--called "quality learning time n in this report. The importance of quality learning time is reflected in a core set of findings about the effectiveness of alternative learning conditions. More concentration on a subject leads to higher student performance (National Center for Education Statistics, 1981; Hilton et al., 1984; Jones, 1984; Coleman, 1985). Greater amounts of time spent by students on active learning lead to higher achievement (Starlings, 1975; Fisher et al., 1980). Given the curriculum materials in current use and the usual procedure of teacher-led group instruction, supervised learning activities involving substantive interaction between teacher and students is more effective than unsupervised instruction (Brophy and Evertson, 1976; Good and Grouws, 1977; Fisher et al., 1980). These findings do not deal specifically with the learning of reasoning, since the pertinent research is limited by the tests used to assess student learning and by the nature of classroom instruction, neither of which emphasizes the acquisition of reasoning skills. There is no a priori reason to suppose, however, that the general relationship between quality learning time and student learning does not hold as well for the learning of reasoning. The issue of turning instructional time into active learning time is particularly serious for students who come to school with motivations, aptitudes, and preparation that differ from those assumed by the teacher, the curriculum, and the school. Expanding the capabilities of the educational system to increase the amount of quality learning time--that is, time devoted to effective teaching in contexts that engage the learner--should therefore be a primary objective of ~ research agenda. Quality learning time is seen to affect

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4 the development of reasoning ability through basic psycho- logical processes occurring within the context of lessons The learning of concepts or skills from lessons is mediated by instructors, peers, curricula, and equipment in a learning situation. Learning situations, in turn, are embedded in larger contexts of schools, school systems, families, social norms, communication systems, and political institutions. Understanding the ways in which students learn, or fail to learn, mathematics, science, and technology involves an appreciation of how these factors and their nested interactions affect quality learning time. Therefore, we recommend research in four broad categories: . Research on the development _ reasoning; Research that facilitates increasing the amount of quality learning time through better instruction; Research that facilitates increasing the amount of quality learning time through better settings for learning; and Research that facilitates increasing the amount of quality learning time through the development of new learning systems. Each of these categories includes projects that range from manifestly basic research to manifestly applied research. Historically, developments In the understanding and improvement of education have confounded simple dis- tinctions along such lines--basic research feeds applica- tion and applications provide essential material for basic research. The four categories of research are taken up in each of the succeeding chapters of the report. Chapter 6 summarizes our recommended research agenda. .