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Different Way to Teach

A program at the University of Colorado Boulder aims to shake up how science is taught, NPR reports. It further is encouraging science majors to consider a career in education.

Steven Pollock, a physics professor there, notes that lectures don't really work as many students then leave the classroom even without an understanding of basic concepts. While the school still has lectures, science and engineering classes also include weekly small group discussions, labs, and demonstrations. These smaller meetings are led by learning assistants — undergraduates who have been trained and are paid to help teach — and perhaps a graduate student.

This, NPR says, not only gets the learning assistants interested in education, it also forces the professors to reassess how they teach.

Greater interest in teaching science is needed, NPR notes. Few undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors go into education, even as STEM fields are increasingly touted as important to the competitiveness of the US. That means, NPR says, that many science teachers don't actually have a background in the subjects they teach and may even be intimidated by them.

"When I tell somebody that I'm going into education but I studied biology, their first response is, 'Why aren't you becoming a doctor?' or 'You're too smart to go into education!' or 'There's no money in education,'" Carissa Marsh tells NPR.

"This is my passion. I don't think anybody can be too smart for education," she adds. "I want my kids to have first-rate teachers who know the science and aren't going into it as a backup plan."