PKAL Volume IV: What Works, What Matters, What Lasts

Student Learning Goals: Implications for Strategic Leadership- Resources for the 2007 PKAL Summer Institute III

May 4, 2007

In his paper for PKAL, pioneering educator P. Uri Treisman poses to STEM leaders some critical questions that will be addressed in the institute:
  • how do we link local solutions to national problems?
  • what can we learn from those who have solved particular problems in particular environments to advance our local efforts toward reform?
  • what are the characteristics of the students who will be learning in our STEM classrooms and labs?

He challenges leaders to understand how, in the process of change:

  • expectations about what students can learn and how students learn have to be altered radically
  • as students bring new knowledge and enhanced skills to other courses, programs and departments, there is a ripple-effect impact on all parts of the campus
  • administrative actions reflecting pre-reform policies become obsolete and need to be examined.

On Leadership in STEM

Craig Nelson examines the implications of Treisman's work for campuses seeking to celebrate student diversity and broaden participation in the study and practice of STEM fields. As with Treisman, he calls for fundamental changes in pedagogical paradigms, including to change from measuring teaching by what is taught to measuring what is learned.

Nelson tackles the issue of student diversity focusing on the expectations about learning that students bring with them from high school, on the competition for time that becomes a constraint for many students, and on how certain approaches reach students who have been hardest to reach through standard pedagogy.

Student Diversity Requires Different Approaches to College Teaching

Eugenia Etkina and Jose Mestre outline implications of learning research for teaching science to non-science majors. Moving from a definition of constructivism, they conclude that the autonomy felt by a student who can function like an investigative scientist is a great motivator.

They outline clearly the link between theory and practice in the process of developing a learning environment in which students are ...allowed to construct new knowledge for themselves..., an environment that recognizes because of knowledge is a social enterprise, students learn more when they work collaboratively. Their work offers critical insights from the research on how people learn (HPL), research that is having a major impact on efforts of leaders seeking to serve student learning in STEM fields for contemporary undergraduates.

Implications of Learning Research for Teaching Science