The purpose of science education is no longer simply to train that tiny fraction of the population who will become the next generation of scientists. We need a more scientifically literate populace to address the global challenges that humanity now faces and that only science can explain and possibly mitigate, such as global warming, as well as to make wise decisions, informed by scientific understanding, about issues such as genetic modification.
Moreover, the modern economy is largely based on science and technology, and for that economy to thrive and for individuals within it to be successful, we need technically literate citizens with complex problem-solving skills.
In Optimizing The University - Why We Need a New Educational Model For A New Century I laid out some of the issues facing post-secondary science education and how changing student demographics and modern faculty responsibilities have exacerbated the challenges of adapting science education to fill the educational demands of modern society. I also discussed how the new knowledge gained from advanced assessment techniques have shown us the extent of the shortcomings.
In Optimizing The University - Why We Need a New Educational Model for a New Century I discussed some of the issues facing post-secondary science education.
In particular, that piece focused on how changing student demographics, modern faculty responsibilities and the new knowledge gained from advanced assessment techniques showed us that we need to fix fundamental aspects of science education if students are to receive the high quality education that is becoming increasingly important to individual and societal success.
There are currently great needs and great opportunities for improvement in post-secondary science education. As world education improves, we need to provide more students with complex understanding and problem solving skills in technical subjects to allow them to be responsible and successful citizens in modern society.
Emerging research indicates that our colleges and universities are not achieving this. However, there are great opportunities to improve this situation using advances in the understanding of how people learn science and advances in educational technology.