College science lectures are a big bore to students and need to be replaced with hands-on classes where they can actually learn better, a team of experts said Thursday.
“Revolutionary” courses that mimicked the way real scientists actually work -- by doing science instead of reading about it -- actually helped students learn and encouraged them to take more science classes, the experts said.
Dr. Robert Beichner, a professor of physics at North Carolina State University, and colleagues said educators were still not aware that there are better ways to teach science.
“Active participation in lectures and discovery-based laboratories helps students develop the habits of mind that drive science,” they wrote in their commentary in the journal Science on the report they compiled, which was based on a number of different studies.
“However, most introductory science courses at research universities rely on ’transmission-of-information’ lectures and ’cookbook’ laboratory exercises -- techniques that are not highly effective in fostering conceptual understanding or scientific reasoning.”
If schools start to make the changes, they said, society will benefit as more and more graduates will be scientifically literate -- even if they do not go into the sciences themselves, Beichner and colleagues predicted.