Despite being called institutions of higher learning, universities are often lacking in teaching quality, especially in the sciences.
Our system rewards research prowess over teaching ability. There is now a movement to scientifically study and improve science and engineering
education at the university level.
These scholars combine a technical background with cutting edge cognitive science research to figure out how people learn science. They then find effective methods to help students gain these skills. Some researchers even eshew the word teaching, in favor of a student-centric phrase like facilitating learning.
The time of the professor lecturing before a silent room of students is ending, and the time of students being actively involved in their learning is coming. Studies show that students retain information better when they are challenged to think and give feedback during the learning process.
It also turns out there is a lot more to learning then just collecting scientific facts. The connections between things and decisions involved are equally important in the problem-solving process.
Our group studies how experts organize their scientific knowledge and how they approach problem solving. By finding the path from novice to expert we hope to better be able to teach others. There are even implications for artificial intelligence research and teaching robots these skills.