This volume collects the ideas and insights discussed at a novel conference, the Integrating Cognitive Science with Innovative Teaching in STEM Disciplines Conference, which was held September 27-28, 2012 at Washington University in St. Louis. With funding from the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the conference was hosted by Washington University’s Center for Integrative Research on Cognition, Learning, and Education (CIRCLE), a center established in 2011. Details on the individual chapters are below.
Mark A. McDaniel, Regina F. Frey, Susan M. Fitzpatrick, and Henry L. Roediger III
This volume collects the ideas and insights discussed at a novel conference, the Integrating Cognitive Science with Innovative Teaching in STEM Disciplines Conference, which was held September 27-28, 2012 at Washington University in St. Louis. With funding from the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the conference was hosted by Washington University’s Center for Integrative Research on Cognition, Learning, and Education (CIRCLE), a center established in 2011.
Available for download as a PDF. Titles of individual chapters can be found at http://openscholarship.wustl.edu/circle_book/.
Robert A. Bjork and Veronica X. Yan
Increasingly, learning is happening outside of formal classroom instruction. As a consequence, learners need to make multiple decisions, such as what to study, when to study, and how to study, and computer-based technologies offer multiple options and opportunities for how to manage one's own learning. Knowing how to learn effectively has never been more important, not only during the years of schooling, but across one's lifetime-as careers change, new job skills are required, and hobbies and interests develop and change. Recent research suggests, however, that we are often prone to both mis-assessing and mis-managing our own learning. In this chapter we summarize the evidence that intuitions and standard practices are often unreliable guides to optimizing one's learning and that there exists the potential for learners and instructors alike to make self-regulated and teacher-regulated learning more efficient and effective.
Elizabeth J. Marsh and Allison D. Cantor
Multiple-choice tests are ubiquitous in the classroom; while typically used for assessment, our focus in this chapter is on how such tests can also serve as learning opportunities for students. We review evidence from cognitive psychology that multiple-choice tests can change what students know, helping them to remember forgotten information, boosting retention of recently learned information, and even promoting new learning. However, the educator needs to exercise care when using multiple-choice tests, because by definition multiple-choice questions pair correct answers with plausible but incorrect lures. That is, multiple-choice testing can also yield a negative testing effect, whereby prior exposure to multiple-choice questions boosts the likelihood that students will use multiple-choice lures to answer later general knowledge questions. We evaluate a number of solutions to this problem, with the goal of maximizing the benefits and minimizing any costs of multiple-choice testing. While a number of possible solutions involve changes to test construction (e.g., changes to the plausibility and number of lures), the best solution turns out to be a simple one: educators should make sure to tell students the correct answers after they complete the multiple-choice test. We conclude with a discussion of future directions for research, with an emphasis on the need for additional studies in classroom settings.
Chapter 03: The Knowledge-Learning-Instruction (KLI) Dependency: How the Domain-Specific and Domain-General Interact in STEM Learning
Kenneth R. Koedinger and Elizabeth A. McLaughlin
To enhance student learning it is necessary to identify the concepts and skills that need be required with the instructional method that best supports learning. The hypothesis that suggests the choice domain-general instructional approach depends on the domain-specific nature of the target knowledge the ÒKLI Dependency.Ó To produce theoretically motivated, successful educational interventions, consideration must be given to domain-specific details as well as domain-general principles of instruction. Successful use of general principles depends on a careful domain analysis such that a principle in one domain context may work completely different in another. An example of effective instruction that incorporates both knowledge analysis and instructional principles and offer recommendations for applying KLI to (re)design instruction and improve student learning is discussed.
Chapter 04: Bang for the Buck: Supporting Durable and Efficient Student Learning through Successive Relearning
Katherine A. Rawson and John Dunlosky
As students progress from primary and secondary school to college, they are increasingly expected to learn foundational information (facts, terminology, formulae, concepts, etc.) on their own outside of class. Doing so effectively is no small feat, considering the amount of material students are expected to learn within and across classes, the limited amount of time students have to spend, and that the goal is to learn information well enough to retain it across time. Unfortunately, students are often not effective at regulating their own learning, and thus educators can further support student learning by teaching students how to effectively regulate their own learning outside of the classroom. Herein lies an important challenge for both educators and researchers: What strategies should students use to get the biggest bang for their buck (i.e., the most learning out of limited time)? This chapter describes and prescribes successive relearning as a highly potent strategy for efficiently achieving durable learning.
Brian H. Ross, José P. Mestre, and Jennifer L. Docktor
Physics courses often assess understanding in terms of problem-solving performance. However, many students who do well in a physics course do not understand the underlying concepts and principles, leading to poor retention and transfer. The students’ problem solving relies on superficial aspects of the problem and chaining of possible equations. We propose an intervention to integrate the conceptual understanding with the problem solving, forcing the problem solving to be guided by the underlying principle(s). More specifically, the approach requires students to identify the principle, justify why this principle is appropriate, plan how to solve the problem, and, finally, implement the plan in terms of equations. Initial results with this intervention in high schools are encouraging: Students gain greater understanding and also perform better on the usual problem-solving tasks. We suggest some improvements that might be made to the approach and consider its generality for other STEM disciplines.
Mark A. McDaniel and Henry L. Roediger III
The chapters in our purview have many important implications for instruction and learning, for both faculty and students. In our commentary, we pull out and summarize some key points for both faculty and students to keep in mind when teaching and when studying, respectively.
Stephanie V. Chasteen and Katherine K. Perkins
The Science Education Initiative (SEI) is a university-funded project to with a goal to achieve highly effective, evidence based education for students by applying the latest advances in pedagogical and organizational excellence. To achieve these goals, the SEI supports work at the departmental level to establish what students should learn, determine what students are actually learning, and improve student learning. The outcomes of SEI work are diverse and include the transformation of a specific course, addressing department and institution cultural issues, researching the impact of pedagogical techniques on learning, and dissemination of course and related materials. In the chapter an example of an SEI course transformation in physics is discussed in detail.
In a POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) learning environment, students work cooperatively in self-managed small groups of three or four. The group work is focused on activities that are carefully designed and scaffolded to enable students to develop important concepts, or to deepen and refine their understanding of those ideas or concepts. In addition, the learning environment is structured to support the development of process skills - the important learning skills and interpersonal skills that will promote life-long learning and be of great value in the workplace and in life. The instructor’s role is to facilitate the development of student concepts and process skills, not to simply deliver content to the students.
Diane Ebert-May, Terry Derting, and Jan Hodder
Ongoing Professional Development (PD) of faculty is necessary to increasing faculty knowledge and developing materials and techniques that help engage students and foster learning. While workshops are a popular format of PD, little is known about the efficacy of workshops due to the reliance on self-report data alone. Development programs should employ mixed approaches that include both objective and self-reported data from faculty and students, direct observation of faculty teaching by external experts, analysis of course material, as well as surveys of student and faculty beliefs and approaches to teaching and learning. The Faculty Institutes for Reforming Science Teaching (FIRST II) and the National Academies Summer Institutes (SI) are examples of PD evaluation discussed in detail.
Robert A. Linsenmeier, Jennifer Y. Cole, and Matthew R. Glucksberg
Design is an important outcome in the engineering curricula and profession. Design courses may first appear to students as freshman or late as seniors depending on universities. With the goals to solve the design process, enhance teamwork, and enhancing communication within and between the team and client, design is integrative, requiring students to engage in a more holistic kind of thinking and resourcefulness. Students are familiar with the domain and the logical progression in textbooks from concept to concept, but the design problem is often not well formulated requiring students to formulate both the problem and consideration before working toward a solution. Teaching design can also be difficult as it requires moving students out of their comfort zone into self-directed and independent world of design. Mathematical modeling is an important aspect of design, and scaffolding appears to be helpful in improving students' abilities to generate and use mathematical models in biomedical engineering senior design. A study of student capabilities followed by a classroom intervention in biomedical engineering design is discussed.
Thomas A. Moore
Six Ideas That Shaped Physics is a comprehensive set of text materials, instructor resources, and web-based tools whose goal is to enable professors to pursue an innovative, activity-based approach to teaching introductory calculus-based physics course (even in situations where large classrooms are the norm). This chapter will describe what makes the Six Ideas approach distinctive, with special emphasis on why (in any STEM discipline) choosing appropriate instructional metaphors and constructing an interlocking, self-consistent course design is essential: all course elements (the textbook, class activities, homework, and exams) must work coherently together to produce genuine learning. I will also describe how this course design was adapted for use at Washington University in St. Louis and report on student outcomes there and elsewhere.
Chapter 12: The Benefits of Cross-Talk: Cognitive Psychologists and STEM Educators from Multiple Disciplines Can Enrich Their Research and Enhance STEM Education Through Shared Knowledge
Regina F. Frey and Susan M. Fitzpatrick
The inaugural 2012 CIRCLE conference and this accompanying book come at an important time when there are many national calls to transforming STEM education. The 2012 report from President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology [(PCAST, 2012)] and numerous other reports [(e.g., National Research Council, 2012; [Brewer & Smith, 2011; National Science Board, 1996)] have issued a variety of recommendations that emphasize several key proposals including the following: implementing empirically-validated teaching methods, engaging students actively in their own learning, exposing students to research thinking and problem solving, and providing students with opportunities to engage in research and hands-on activities and to study real-world problems. These various types of active exposure lead to the development of key process (or professional) skills such as information processing, problem solving, and critical and analytical thinking [(Michaelsen et al., 2002; Prince, 2004)] that are needed for success in the workplace. These experiences also affect persistence of students in STEM majors; some studies show that such exposure can reduce or eliminate the achievement gap between majority and minority students [(Haak et al., 2011; Rath et al., 2007).] Hence, using evidence-based active-learning teaching practices in multiple STEM courses could result in diversifying STEM majors, in increasing retention of students in STEM majors, and in increasing the likelihood more students will consider STEM careers after graduation.