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Effective Practices in Undergraduate STEM Education Part 1: Examining the Evidence

Abstract

As a result of financial support and commitment from the public and private sectors, research into and implementation of numerous and varied promising practices for teaching, learning, assessment, and institutional organization of undergraduate STEM education have been developed in recent years. New practices have been implemented in vastly different grain sizes, and virtually all of these practices were developed independently from one another and have emphasized somewhat different goals.

Communications across the STEM disciplines and within their subdisciplines is often lacking. Thus, despite many years of effort and significant financial expenditure, surprisingly little is known about the collective impact of these approaches on the academic success of individuals and of different populations of students.

At the national level, how effective are these promising practices in changing the institutional culture of higher education toward acceptance and adoption of new approaches to undergraduate teaching, student learning, assessment of learning, and the balance of professional responsibilities of STEM faculty and within STEM departments? Given significant institutional differences in approaches and intended audiences, is enough evidence emerging to indicate that certain approaches to undergraduate teaching and learning "transcend" these differences? Can these approaches be adopted to engage the broad spectrum of undergraduate student audiences in the kinds of learning that will be required to address the large, complex problems that must be addressed in the twenty-first century?

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