2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 11:05 AM


HERBERT, Bruce E., Geology & Geophysics, Texas A&M Univ, College Station, TX 77843-3115 and SHIELACK, Janie, Information Technology in Science Center for Learning & Teaching, Texas A&M Univ, College Station, TX 77843, herbert@geo.tamu.edu

National and international efforts to reform science education often call for the participation of scientists in the reform effort. To a large extent, though, the scientific enterprise has developed independently of science education. Sustainability of science implies that scientific research be integrated with both the education of the next generation STEM professionals and an informed public discussion of science. Unfortunately, few effective models of partnerships between scientists and educators exist where suggested educational roles of scientists do not present major barriers to the participation of scientists.

I suggest that mutual understanding of issues and professional needs point to models of scientist participation in the broader STEM educational enterprise, where synergy is achieved between scientific and educational activities. I propose four specific educational roles of scientists that support the development and implementation of effective learning environments designed around inquiry-based learning, one of the best pedagogical practices to support the development of critical thinking skills and competencies in science learners including problem-solving, knowledge transfer, and decision making. These roles, which can be directly embedded within traditional research activities, include the (i) synthesis of summaries of research strands and thematic areas (strands and PODS) with appropriate scaffolding for informed novices, (ii) placement of scientific concepts and data sets in broader context, (iii) development of explicit descriptions of scientific knowledge taxonomy and cognitive strands in specific content domains, and (iv) delineation of the pedagogical content knowledge needed to teach specific domains. Information technologies will often directly support these efforts because IT allows learner manipulation of data, the development and testing of conceptual models based on available evidence, and exposure to authentic, complex and ill-constrained problems.

These roles support Vannevar Bush’s vision of universities as knowledge entities that build capacity through seeking new knowledge and transferring it to a new workforce.