Discipline-Based Education Research: Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering

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National Academies Press, Sep 10, 2012 - Education - 261 pages
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The National Science Foundation funded a synthesis study on the status, contributions, and future direction of discipline-based education research (DBER) in physics, biological sciences, geosciences, and chemistry. DBER combines knowledge of teaching and learning with deep knowledge of discipline-specific science content. It describes the discipline-specific difficulties learners face and the specialized intellectual and instructional resources that can facilitate student understanding.

Discipline-Based Education Research is based on a 30-month study built on two workshops held in 2008 to explore evidence on promising practices in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. This book asks questions that are essential to advancing DBER and broadening its impact on undergraduate science teaching and learning. The book provides empirical research on undergraduate teaching and learning in the sciences, explores the extent to which this research currently influences undergraduate instruction, and identifies the intellectual and material resources required to further develop DBER.

Discipline-Based Education Research provides guidance for future DBER research. In addition, the findings and recommendations of this report may invite, if not assist, post-secondary institutions to increase interest and research activity in DBER and improve its quality and usefulness across all natural science disciples, as well as guide instruction and assessment across natural science courses to improve student learning. The book brings greater focus to issues of student attrition in the natural sciences that are related to the quality of instruction. Discipline-Based Education Research will be of interest to educators, policy makers, researchers, scholars, decision makers in universities, government agencies, curriculum developers, research sponsors, and education advocacy groups.
 

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Contents

Executive Summary
1
Status of DisciplineBased Education Research
5
1 Introduction
7
2 The Emergence and Current State of DisciplineBased Education Research
19
Contributions of DisciplineBased Education Research
43
3 Overview of DisciplineBased Education Research
45
4 Identifying and Improving Students Conceptual Understanding in Science and Engineering
57
5 Problem Solving Spatial Thinking and the Use of Representations in Science and Engineering
75
6 Instructional Strategies
119
7 Some Emerging Areas of DisciplineBased Education Research
140
Future Directions for DisciplineBased Education Research
163
The Influence of DisciplineBased Education Research on Undergraduate Science and Engineering Instruction
165
Conclusions and Recommendations
186
References
205
Biographical Sketches of Committee Members and Staff
257
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