The improvement of teaching and learning is a dynamic and ongoing process, just as is research in any STEM discipline. At the core of improving teaching and learning is the need to accurately determine what students have learned as a result of teaching practices. This is a research problem, to which STEM instructors can effectively apply their research skills and ways of knowing. In so doing, STEM instructors themselves become the agents for change in STEM teaching and learning.
Teaching-as-Research involves the deliberate, systematic, and reflective use of research methods to develop and implement teaching practices that advance the learning experiences and outcomes of students and teachers.
Participants in teaching-as-research apply a research approach to their teaching practice. Conceptual steps in the teaching-as-research process are:
- Learning foundational knowledge. (What is known about the teaching practice?)
- Creating objectives for student learning. (What do we want students to learn?)
- Developing an hypothesis for practices to achieve the learning objectives. (How can we help students succeed with the learning objectives?)
- Defining measures of success. (What evidence will we need to determine whether students have achieved learning objectives?)
- Developing and implementing teaching practices within an experimental design. (What will we do in and out of the classroom to enable students to achieve learning objectives?)
- Collecting and analyzing data. (How will we collect and analyze information to determine what students have learned?)
- Reflecting, evaluating, and iterating. (How will we use what we have learned to improve our teaching?)
The application of teaching-as-research is meant to lead STEM instructors to a continuous process of discovery and change throughout their careers.
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