RESEARCH
Dr. Bob Tinker, Concord Consortium
Papers and Presentations, Mathematics and Science Initiative
Archived Information


  1. At all grade levels, when trying to address the science needs of all students, we try to teach too many disconnected concepts. There are over 1,000 science benchmarks! The standards provide little guidance to educators about which are more important or what the core concepts are.

  2. Science has changed enormously in the last few decades and education needs to catch up. The advances in biology, biotechnoloy, and nanotechnology cry out for new materials and new instructional goals, not only in advanced instruction in fields but across all science fields and levels. Science education also needs to incorporate advances in mathematics (e.g. complexity theory), technology (instrumentation), and computers (a supercomputer on every desk).

  3. Science education is far behind the current state of science and losing ground. We need to create a system that can fundamentally change instructional practice much faster in response to science advances. This cannot be done by scattershot "materials projects", "activity packages", and exciting websites. Substantial, well-tested, thoughtful, scalable, technology-rich curricula are needed.

  4. Science education relies too little on student investigations of real and simulated systems, and too much on memorization and formal methods. The use of labs is declining alarmingly. The excessive number of standards, the culture of standardized tests, and the encyclopedic texts all push teachers to "cover" large numbers of topics superficially. Students need more time to explore fewer core topics in depth.

  5. Far too few qualified teachers are teaching science. Massive teacher professional development efforts are needed as well as strong incentives for schools to hire available well-qualified teachers. Opportunities for advanced science is severely limited in urban and rural schools.

  6. Better use of Information and Computer Technologies (ICT) could alleviate many of these problems: online delivery of new materials with built-in guidance and assessments, better and more sophisticated simulations, more use of probeware for real-time data acquisition, and online courses for teachers and students.

  7. Science content standards need to be re-thought. The new standards should be based on 10-12 content areas, should incorporate recent science, math, and engineering advances, and make far better use of ICT.

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Last Modified: 03/24/2004