Improving Science Education

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Understand Your Role in Science Education

Improving Science Education

Scientists bring their personal science experiences into the classroom, supplementing and enhancing standard education.

Beyond the Classroom

There are many ways that you can contribute to improving science education.

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Plan the Process

Research has identified factors that influence students in selecting courses in mathematics and science, particularly among young women and members of minority groups. In addition to achievement in previous educational experiences, individuals are more likely to continue their mathematics and science education if they have general interest in "things," rather than primarily in "people." Students need exposure to "things," that is: they need to manipulate objects in the laboratory or classroom if they have not had that experience at home. It is this experience that gives them the self-confidence to succeed in the sciences.

You can be the resource that brings students in contact with objects of science either by relating experiences to them or by arranging to bring items directly into the classroom for the students to handle.

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Leave an Impression

People learn through involvement. Learning is not passive in nature. People do not learn from words; they learn from experiences that pay off. Therefore, opportunities should be provided for the person to be actively involved in the learning process. If learning is to be retained, one must have an opportunity to repeat what has been learned. There have been many different studies on how much a person retains after a learning activity. Although the results may vary slightly from one study to another, they are always startling. The general loss, which occurs in one hour, is about 55 percent of information learned and in one week the loss increases to 75 percent. As a result, if learning is to be effective, it must be put to use. Any information that you wish the student to retain should have a mental, physical, or emotional activity attached to the learning process. Keep this in mind when preparing the lesson to be learned and remembered.

People learn in small doses; therefore, presenting information in simple steps in sequence allows students to absorb information in small bites. Observe changes in thinking and behavior, to evaluate your success in reaching your intended audience.

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Reach the Intended Audience

Your subject matter must be presented at a level the students can understand. It must appeal to the gender and makeup of the audience and be sensitive to the multicultural background of the students to maintain their interest.

Readability Level

The reading level of written material to be presented to students must be at an appropriate level of difficulty. The reading material can also be used to evaluate the level of vocabulary for an oral presentation.

To test written material for the level of vocabulary, take three 100-word samples from the beginning, middle, and end of the printed material. Count the number of sentences and divide into 100. Count the number of words that have 3 syllables or more and add that number to the above. Multiple that number by .4 to get the vocabulary grade level of the material.

Example

Geneticists study all aspects of genes. The study of the modes of gene transmission from generation to generation is broadly called transmission genetics, the study of gene structure and function is called molecular genetics, and the study of gene behavior in populations is called population genetics. These form the three major subdivisions of the field of genetics, although, as with all categories invented by humans, the subdivisions are to a certain extent arbitrary and there is considerable overlap. It is the knowledge of how genes act and how they are transmitted down through the generations that has unified biology; previously, specific sets of biological phenomena had each been regulated to separate disciplines.

In this sample you can see that there are only four sentences in the 100-word passage and 26 words with three syllables or more. (100 ÷ 4 = 25; 25 + 26 = 51; 51 x .4 = 20.4) this calculates to be above college level. The thing to remember when preparing either written or oral material is to keep the sentence structure simple and the three syllable words to a minimum.

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Have the Goals of the Interaction Clearly in Mind

What the learner should:

  1. Know (i.e., information, facts, principles)
  2. Apply from the knowledge gained (i.e., work habits, or skills)
  3. Develop or change about her/his attitude (i.e., feelings about things and people)

These goals should be reachable in the time allowed.

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Last Updated: April 19, 2012