Report on Reports

11. Shaping the Future... 1996 - National Science Foundation



To faculty

  • Believe and affirm that every student can learn; recognize that different students may learn in different ways and with differing levels of ability; and create an environment in each class that both challenges and supports.
  • Be familiar with and use the results of professional scholarship on learning and teaching.
  • Build into every course inquiry, the processes of science (STEM), a knowledge of what STEM practitioners do, and the excitement of cutting-edge research.
  • Devise and use pedagogy that develops communication skills, teamwork, critical thinking, and lifelong learning in each student.
  • Build bridges to other departments, seeking ways to reinforce and integrate learning.
  • To departments

  • Set measurable departmental goals in collaboration with other departments and with prospective employers for undergraduate learning that include clear expectations about what all students should learn in STEM courses.
  • Provide a curriculum that engages and motivates the broadest spectrum of students, enabling every student to learn and providing reasonable flexibility for students to move onto or off various career-preparation paths without undue penalty.
  • Create and support learning communities for students and faculty.
  • Use instructional technology effectively.
  • To institutions

  • Re-examine mission in light of needs in undergraduate STEM education.
  • Hold accountable and develop reward systems for departments and programs, not just individuals, so that the group is responsible for effective student learning.
  • Support faculty who effectively help students learn in hospitable environments that recognize student differences and that provide reasonable opportunities to address those differences.
  • Ensure that there is a supportive climate across the campus for student learning, including sound academic advising and effective career development services.


    The necessity for strengthening science education in the United States has been widely acknowledged. Although the most powerful argument for improving the science education of all students may be its role in liberating the human intellect, much of the public discussion has centered on more concrete, utilitarian, and immediate justifications. Ultimately, reform is more about people than it is about policies, institutions, and processes. And most people– not only educators–tend to change slowly when it comes to attitudes, beliefs, and ways of doing things. Sensible professionals do not replace their strongly held views and behavior patterns in response to fiat or the latest vogue; instead, they respond to developing sentiment among respected colleagues, to incentives that reward serious efforts to explore new possibilities, and to the positive feedback that may come from trying out new ideas from time to time–all of which can take years.

    – Science for All Americans. American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1990.