When scientists take on science education

December 18, 2008

A greater commitment by science faculty to focus on science education could drive education reform at universities and K-12 schools, according to a new report by a team of five researchers from the California State University (CSU) system and one from Purdue University.

Appearing in today's issue of the journal Science, the report evaluates the role that science professors who specialize in science education play in improving how the sciences are taught.

To illustrate the pressure universities are under to cultivate an effective learning environment, the report cites an earlier study indicating that when college students abandon science as a major, 90 percent of them do so because of what they perceive as poor teaching; and, among those who remain in the sciences, 74 percent lament the poor quality of teaching.

"Ultimately, we need data on science faculty who focus particularly on science education to learn how colleges and universities can make science accessible to everyone," said James Rudd, corresponding author and assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at California State University, Los Angeles.

In addition to Rudd, the study's co-authors are Seth D. Bush, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; Nancy J. Pelaez, associate professor of biological sciences at Purdue University and formerly with CSU, Fullerton; Michael T. Stevens, assistant professor of biological sciences at CSU, Stanislaus; Kimberly D. Tanner, assistant professor of biology at San Francisco State University; and Kathy S. Williams, associate professor of biology at San Diego State University.

The CSU research team studied science faculty who take on specialized roles in their disciplines to reform undergraduate science education, improve K-12 teacher education and preparation and conduct science education research. These "science faculty with education specialties," or SFES, come from various backgrounds.

In a comprehensive survey of the CSU campuses, 59 science faculty were identified as serving in the SFES role. Of those, 47 percent transitioned into the role from a more traditional science-faculty position, with many of them continuing their efforts in basic science research. The remaining 53 percent were hired specifically for the SFES position, and they tended to focus more on science education efforts.

Roughly 40 percent of both types of SFES surveyed noted serious consideration toward leaving the specialized science-education position due to a perceived lack of institutional understanding of the field and to job burnout.

The authors will next expand the CSU study to a national sample.

The success of SFES positions, the research team believes, can be measured by increased numbers and quality of K-12 science teachers and of science majors graduating from colleges and universities; and such increases will need greater collaboration between universities and K-12 education districts, within universities between colleges of science and colleges of education, and internally within science departments.

"The quality of undergraduate and K-12 science education depends on strengthening these collaborations with additional funding and published research on science education," said Rudd.

The CSU is the largest U.S. university system, with an annual enrollment of approximately 450,000 students spread among its 23 campuses - which differ substantially in their history, settings, student populations, enrollment sizes, and level of research orientation.
-end-


San Francisco State University

Related Education Articles from Brightsurf:

Applying artificial intelligence to science education
A new review published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching highlights the potential of machine learning--a subset of artificial intelligence--in science education.

Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.

How can education researchers support education and public health and institutions during COVID-19?
As education researchers' ongoing work is interrupted by school closures, what can they do to support education and public health institutions dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?

Online education platforms could scale high-quality STEM education for universities
Online and blended (online and in-person) STEM instruction can produce the same learning outcomes for students as traditional, in-person classes at a fraction of the cost, finds research published today in Science Advances.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

The new racial disparity in special education
Racial disparity in special education is growing, and it's more complex than previously thought.

Education may be key to a healthier, wealthier US
A first-of-its-kind study estimate the economic value of education for better health and longevity.

How education may stave off cognitive decline
Prefrontal brain regions linked to higher educational attainment are characterized by increased expression of genes involved in neurotransmission and immunity, finds a study of healthy older adults published in JNeurosci.

Does more education stem political violence?
In a study released online today in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, three Norwegian researchers attempt to bring clarity to this question by undertaking the first systematic examination of quantitative research on this topic.

Individual education programs not being used as intended in special education
Gone are the days when students with disabilities were placed in a separate classroom, or even in a completely different part of the school.

Read More: Education News and Education Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.