Effective Teaching Should Create Students Who Think Like Scientists

Approximate Reading Time: < 1 minute

I was alerted to this article by Mark Guzdial’s blog: Carl Wieman on Effective Teaching « Computing Education Blog. (Mark’s blog almost always has something I find interesting – thanks Mark!)

There are a few things that really jumped out for me:

The goal should be to have “all students think about and use science, mathematics, and engineering more like scientists do,” Wieman said. “The most valuable metric” for evaluating effective teaching should be creating patterns of scientific thinking.

Expertise, Wienman says, is characterized by:

  • Extensive factual knowledge of the subject area. Gee, I guess that means that simply being able to Google something ISN’T enough. You’ll get no argument from me here. Of course, which facts we need to keep in our heads and which ones we can safely leave “out there” to look up is an open – and probably ever-changing – question.
  • A mental framework for organizing that knowledge so that it can be effectively retrieved and applied to solve problems. Yup again.
  • The ability to monitor one’s own thinking and learning in the areas of expertise,” he said. It includes “self-checking or sense-making, of examining one’s thinking and coming up with ways to check if their answers make sense.”

I found this bit on memory particularly significant:

A new item is anything that is not in the learner’s long-term memory, he continued. “Anything you can do to reduce unnecessary demands on working memory will improve learning.”

Among them is elimination of unnecessary jargon.

The thought that immediately jumped into my head is how fond Educationists are of creating new jargon. THIS deserves it’s own post so as not to get buried in talk about science.

AAAS – AAAS News Release – “Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman: Effective Teaching Should Create Students Who Think Like Scientists”.

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