March 28, 2003
Scholarly communities in STEM fields (both disciplinary and interdisciplinary) have been giving increased attention to the quality and character of student learning in their field over the past decade. The work of individuals, departments and professional associations is leading to significant improvement of undergraduate STEM programs on campuses across the country.
Even given a specific disciplinary 'root,' most of these efforts are adaptable across the range of disciplines and programs that serve undergraduate students. This is so because the catalysts for considering reform are common-- across campuses and fields. How students learn, how information technologies can strengthen student learning, and how undergraduate programs can be shaped to incorporate new directions in the field are among the questions being asked by leading agents of change. At their essence, most of these approaches to reform start with some basic questions about students:
- who are our students: what are their backgrounds, learning styles interests, motivations and career aspirations?
- as scientists, we have a passion for science (mathematics, engineering, technology); how can we get our students to share this passion?
PKAL is developing a series of portfolios on a decade of reform, capturing some of the interesting and adaptable ideas and materials emerging from the various scholarly communities. These portfolios present only the tip-of-the-iceberg of important efforts; they include-- but go beyond-- work of colleagues within the PKAL community.
Two portfolios are now posted:
Each includes a brief history, stories about transforming all aspects of the learning environment, from introductory courses through facilities. These two portfolios also highlight the work of the disciplinary society in advancing the field, including:
- American Association of Physics Teachers
- American Institute of Physics
- American Physical Society
- American Psychological Association
- National Taskforce on Undergraduate Physics
- Project SpinUp/TYC
These are works-in-progress, and we invite further submissions from the community.