Approaches to STEM Education

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A recent publication in Science is stirring up dialog around approaches to STEM education in K-12. The article, The Efficacy of Student-Centered Instruction in Supporting Science Learning, found that students not only performed higher on content knowledge exams than the teacher-centric control group, but also showed hither retention of that knowledge in the future. One thing that really stands out about this study is the thoroughness of methods. Occasionally in similar studies, results are often overlooked or de-emphasized due to the lack of rigor in methods. But the researchers in this study even went so far as to record each session of instruction, to make sure that the teachers held true to the student-centered or teacher-centered approach they were assigned. This reminds of me a Chinese proverb I recently used in several meetings:

Tell me and I may forget
Show me and I may remember
Involve me and I will understand.

Even when I think back to my own experiences in the classroom as a student, the most powerful learning experiences came when I was doing something, not when I was simply listening. One challenge with this student-centered approach is that it can be tougher to design activities to fill your class time vs. designing a lecture. Fortunately, we have a large number of resources that can help you. In collaboration with Education Technology Services, we're working with some faculty to flip their classroom, putting the burden on the student to consume content (reading, watch videos of lectures, etc) outside of class, while class time is used for more student-centered, active learning approaches.We have resources in inquiry-based learning, with strategies you can use to engage your students to deeply explore the concepts and ideas from your course. We also have resources, and can present workshops, on student-centered discussion. If you'd like to discuss possible strategies to actively involve your students during class, please do not hesitate to email us!

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