This issue of New Directions for Teaching and Learning pre–sents research from a collaboration between learning scientists, assessment experts, learning technologists, and domain experts as part of a project with the vision of transforming education (specifically in bioengineering, but eventually in all fields) to produce adaptive expertise in students. This research is based on the model proposed in the National Research Council book, How People Learn. This model proposes a sequence of learning activities drawn from learning research that are designed to maximize the degree to which students understand and can use what they learn in meeting discipline–based challenges.
The chapters in this volume illustrate how learning scientists, assessment experts, learning technologists, and domain experts can work together in an integrated effort to develop learning environments centered on challenge–based instruction, with major support from technology. While the strategies and research illustrated in these chapters were developed in one discipline (engineering), they are applicable across disciplines that have as their goal helping students learn to think about the process of problem solving.
PART ONE: COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE.
1. The Emergence of a Community of Practice in Engineering Education (Yifat Ben–David Kolikant, Ann McKenna, Bugrahan Yalvac)
This chapter explores how engineering faculty and learning scientists developed a collective wisdom in order to work together to develop course materials.
2. Desegregated Learning: An Innovative Framework for Programs of Study (Arturo A. Fuentes, Robert Freeman, Stephen Crown, Javier Kypuros, Hashim Mahdi)
Too often courses exist in a vacuum, with the learning segregated into small units. This chapter discusses the effort of one group to "desegregate" their curriculum into a flow of integrated learning experiences.
PART TWO: TAKING CONTENT SERIOUSLY IN LEARNING SCIENCE RESEARCH.
3. The Development of Adaptive Expertise in Biotransport (Taylor Martin, Anthony J. Petrosino, Stephanie Rivale, Kenneth R. Diller)
The authors describe how they studied a biotransport course as a mechanism for continuous development of adaptive expertise, the ability of students to use their knowledge creatively and flexibly.
4. Establishing Experiences to Develop a Wisdom of Professional Practice (Joan M. T. Walker, Sean P. Brophy, Lynn Liao Hodge, John D. Bransford)
The authors compare the performance of first–year and senior students′ perceptions of two types of instructional material focused on professionalism, with an eye toward understanding how materials may be tailored to meet the needs of first–year and advanced undergraduates.
5. Teaching Writing in a Laboratory–Based Engineering Course with a "How People Learn" Framework (Bugrahan Yalvac, H. David Smith, Penny L. Hirsch, Gülnur Birol)
This chapter discusses the effectiveness of a "How People Learn" framework used in a laboratory–based module designed to improve students′ written communication skills without compromising acquisition of content knowledge.
PART THREE: APPLYING THE MODEL TO OTHER POPULATIONS.
6. Learning Content Using Complex Data in Project–Based Science: An Example from High School Biology in Urban Classrooms (David E. Kanter, Melissa Schreck)
The authors explore the extent to which project–based science can help students make sense of complex scientific data and promote deep understanding.
7. The Effect of a Bioengineering Unit Across High School Contexts: An Initial Investigation in Urban, Suburban, and Rural Domains (Stacy S. Klein, Melissa J. Geist)
The authors discuss the degree to which innovative curricula such as those developed in the VaNTH project are effective with students in different situations.
PART FOUR: EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH IN UNIVERSITY SETTINGS.
8. Implementing Learning–Science Research in University Settings: New Research Opportunities (Ann McKenna).