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Old 09-26-2008, 07:13 PM
 
Location: Leaving fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada
3,976 posts, read 7,257,705 times
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I think studying the history of science, like they do at Oxford University, might help. Reading A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson taught me more than any science class I ever attended.
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Old 09-26-2008, 08:01 PM
 
3,648 posts, read 7,959,889 times
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Originally Posted by coldwynn View Post
If you look at most natural science (especially chemistry and physics) curricula in high schools and 1st- and 2nd-years in colleges, I think you will agree that you will find that students are being taught how to solve problems. In this sense they are being asked to apply already known knowledge to specific problem sets. This is deductive reasoning. We're teaching them to go from the general (the fundamental knowledge) to something specific (the problem to be analyzed).

However, science is not about being deductive. Science is inductive. The practicing scientist goes from the specific experiment or phenomenon and generalizes to some overarching theory. And yet, we are not training our students to be able to come up with their own ideas or have the kind of critical thinking necessary to be good scientists.

No doubt, the current crop of students may become good applied scientists or engineers, but if they become good scientists - it would be despite (not because of) the way we've taught them.

Worse, there is a growing body of evidence that shows that students who are taught to solve problems - and are successful at solving such problems, generally do not even understand the underlying concepts that were necessary to solve those problems in the first place. All they've done is learned to apply a protocol, an algorithm, a step-by-step process. They've memorized the way to solve a particular problem - that's not even really thinking.

This is an issue with many variables: textbooks that are written this way, standardized tests, how gradeschools prep for higher learning, current teachers who have been taught this way and therefore tend to teach this way, the socio-polical climate . . . but what's to be done???
I for one just want to know why you took my name, or an analogue thereof.
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Old 09-26-2008, 10:41 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
96 posts, read 415,130 times
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Originally Posted by SaratL View Post
I think a lot has to do with how science/maths is introduced and taught in the elementry and middle school. I live in one of the "best" county and volunteer at the local public school and am appalled at the attitude of teachers towards science/maths and how they shut the kids up (or label them as trouble makers) when they ask curious science questions. IMO, The weak science/maths curriculum, disinterested and mostly unqualified teachers are the reason why kids are not motivated to develop a passion towards science at an early age. The high school students is another story..I come across so many who cannot apply concepts they learnt in junior classes to a high school problem, esp. in Maths where the knowlege tends to be cumulative.
I used to teach in a district that believed in providing a ton of training and professional development for teachers. It was highly encouraged and many times required. I took a 2 credit graduate course about how to use our science program on top of the hours of training throughout the school year. When I switched districts, I was happy to know that my new school had the same science program.

The program, along with good teachers, made science come alive for the kids. I saw amazing things happening with my students. This was not the case at my new school. The science kits were apparently dropped off with the teachers, and the district provided no training. The teachers feel like there's too much to prep in order to teach the lessons, so instead they have the kids fill in the blanks on worksheets to "learn" science concepts. They also complain that the program doesn't cover all of our state standards. Inquiry is a big state standard, and I am positive that most of the teachers don't teach this standard.

The dropping off of materials with little to no training on how to use them is what happens to teachers a lot. It happened this year with our math program. The good teachers, however, will delve deep into the program and work hard to learn how to use it. They do this on their own time, though. We aren't given much time to collaborate, and learning a new way of teaching/ new curriculum on your own isn't easy when there are so many other requirements and responsibilities.

Okay, that was a lot to simply say teachers need more professional development and more time to collaborate.
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Old 09-26-2008, 11:22 PM
 
Location: Maryland not Murlin
8,248 posts, read 23,117,203 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coldwynn View Post
However, science is not about being deductive. Science is inductive. The practicing scientist goes from the specific experiment or phenomenon and generalizes to some overarching theory. And yet, we are not training our students to be able to come up with their own ideas or have the kind of critical thinking necessary to be good scientists.
Science is about using the Scientific Method to come to reasonable conclusions to life, the Universe, and beyond. No where in there is some individual identity to "think outside of the box". You observe, you question, then you form a testable hypothesis of that question. Test it. Repeat numerous times. Publish in a journal. Your colleagues test your hypothesis. They form their own. Hundreds, thousands of other tests are performed. More writing in journals. Maybe, at the end, a theory is evolved.
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Old 09-28-2008, 07:38 PM
 
268 posts, read 983,134 times
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I've just been to some Charter Schools here in WNY which have been trying to address this issue. While they agree that the Regency Exams (kind of a No Child Left Behind Testing) is skewed toward applied science and deductive reasoning, they have instituted some discovery learning activities, exploration sets, and guided-inquiry. Their kids still test well on the standardized exams since these special activities only occur once a week. But they report a much more engaged and critical thinking group then traditional counterparts.

My own research indicates that students who, for example, can write and complete a chemical equation (based on some stated protocols), would not be able to do the same, if the chemical symbols were replaced with squares and circles (symbolizing atoms and molecules). This and many other paired-questions truly indicate that students are learning to apply protocols and algorithms and not really learning how to think science.
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Old 10-03-2008, 09:35 PM
 
17 posts, read 779,833 times
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I was sitting in biology and then got into a conversation with the class about biology. Then while pndering a thought, I asked how many people in the class were CPR certified, only I was. Then realized more that hardly anyone knew any sort of emergency first aid, let alone advanced.

I now wonder why the charge to teach biology (or other science), when basic things like first aid are left out? Sure a student will know what the inside of a pig is and how it relates to humans, but how is that going to help someone in need? Imagine if all students had to receive two semsters worth of first aid training and how beneficial that would be to society?

The other thing that left me wondering is I was an electrician for many years, but yet had to take three semesters of science classes.

Science depends on the teachers a great deal. Unfortuntely for me, I had some lame teachers, did not teach and I did not learn. Anyone could have picked up a book and learned definitions. The scientific method was a five minute subject in biology and even less in astronomy.

I have encountered from others about the same attitude towards science. With the teachers it seems many times its all or nothing; either the teacher is just a degree mill type or the teacher beleives everyone is Einstein and should be just as excited about science. I think it really turns a lot of people off of the subject all together.
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Old 06-10-2020, 08:20 PM
 
8,211 posts, read 4,637,665 times
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OK, I know this is an old thread, but it popped up on my recommendations and it fits very well with something I've observed as a manager and hiring official.

I believe the basic premise of the OP is correct. Been running into this more and more with recent graduates on the job and in interviews -- what I call "cookbook engineering." That is they have been taught to solve the same problems that have already been solved thousands of times using the same techniques that have been used before.

The problem is we work in a field beyond the bleeding edge. We need creative solutions to problems that haven't even been thought of. But as our older scientists and engineers retire or sometimes pass away, many of the younger ones aren't able to step into their shoes.

You can see this in their resumes when hiring. Some do research, publish, become leaders of their professional society. But the vast majority simply take their classes. So for you current college students in science and engineering, don't just got to class and follow the basic curriculum. Find a research group to be part of. Do research. Join your professional society and become a leader in it. Attend conferences in your field. Prepare for something other than being a cookbook engineer.
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Old 06-11-2020, 08:55 AM
 
Location: Texas
38,779 posts, read 21,627,146 times
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Lower level science classes aren't going to produce scientists.

They're meant to teach an appreciation of science and some confidence in its ability to address problems. They'll also from a base for future scientists, engineers and researchers to build on in more specific courses at the upper undergrad and graduate levels.
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Old 06-11-2020, 09:01 AM
 
8,643 posts, read 4,002,675 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Gringo View Post
Lower level science classes aren't going to produce scientists.

They're meant to teach an appreciation of science and some confidence in its ability to address problems. They'll also from a base for future scientists, engineers and researchers to build on in more specific courses at the upper undergrad and graduate levels.
Yes.


That's why elementary school math classes that focus on "discovery" rather than drilling students in arithmetic end up producing not mathematicians, but kids who can't divide 6 into 72.
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Old 06-11-2020, 10:19 AM
 
6,199 posts, read 2,740,005 times
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Originally Posted by turf3 View Post
Yes.


That's why elementary school math classes that focus on "discovery" rather than drilling students in arithmetic end up producing not mathematicians, but kids who can't divide 6 into 72.
I had classes that did both. Kids need to see how math relates to them. If they don’t, they lose interest in it. As an example, I sat through AP calculus in high school with no real idea of what a limit was. If you can guess that I did very poorly in that class, you would be correct. No one thought to give me any practical explanation of here is what a limit means irl and why it might be relevant to you. They just told me to look at my book and the explanation (which was not helpful). So just drilling something without an explanation can still result in kids not actually doing well or learning the material.
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