- Year 2017
- NSF Noyce Award # 1339939
- First Name Paul
- Last Name Heideman
- Discipline Other: Biology, Chemistry, Geosciences, Physics, and Mathematics
Meredith Kier, College of William and Mary, firstname.lastname@example.org
R. Heather Macdonald, College of William and Mary, email@example.com
Marguerite M Mason, College of William and Mary, firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew D Stelljes, College of William and Mary, email@example.com
Paul D. Heideman, College of William and Mary, firstname.lastname@example.org
The importance addresses a need for teachers to apply behavioral and cognitive science to improve both their teaching and the learning skills of students (‘How People Learn’ at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/9853/how-people-learn-brain-mind-experience-and-school-expanded-edition and many subsequent publications). There is a major gap between exciting new findings on learning and the approaches teachers can use to apply these findings. This course is designed to bridge the gap between findings on learning and methods teachers can use to apply these findings. The one-credit add-on course is intended to improve teachers by introducing them to these findings in behavioral and cognitive science and offer them strategies that can improve the metacognitive skills and study skills of their students. The benefits are to STEM teachers through improved teaching and their students through developing improved skills for learning.
The goal of the add-on course is to show pre-service teachers how to use research findings on learning to improve their teaching and the learning skills of their students. The key activities begin with two books on learning and teaching, one of which is a free online text developed for this course. Students prepare weekly by making decisions about elements of the readings to use, developing materials, and practicing their use. In class, students present their ideas and materials, discuss the relevance of research findings, and develop assessment strategies. Assessment strategies are a key feature of the course. At the end of the course, a goal is for each pre-service teacher to have applied research findings to develop materials they could use in their own courses, to have plans for implementation of their ideas, and to have a framework to assess the effects on the learning skills of their students.
The goals are achieved when pre-service teachers successfully apply ideas from the course to develop their materials, including practicing the skills to critically evaluate and assess their applications. The framework involves critical review of findings in behavioral, cognitive, and sensory sciences applied to education. Critical review is essential because of the many unfounded claims for brain-based teaching. It is critical that teachers learn how to assess whether the methods they employ are improving teaching and learning. The framework includes a critical application of any new approaches to teaching.
Key outcomes include positive course evaluations from students upon completion of the course, reports on application of their new methods in teaching, and reviews of the course from our external evaluators, some conducted through interviews or surveys years after Noyce Scholars complete the course. When taking the course, Noyce Scholars report that it forms a useful complement to their courses in education, particularly because of the opportunities to critique and reflect different approaches. After completing the course, Scholars report that they have gained methods that they can apply successfully in their teaching. As teachers, many former Noyce Scholars report successful application of the ideas and skills they developed during the course.
What is coming next is a manuscript for publication on the course and its outcomes.
The broader impacts have been to extend the new approaches to teaching, metacognitive skills, and learning skills to the many students served by our former Noyce Scholars. Dissemination has been through workshops at professional conferences.