STEM Education Research
Discipline-based education research at the undergraduate level is the focus of established research programs of six faculty members in the College of Science & Mathematics at NDSU. More than the sum of the parts, these faculty members cross interdisciplinary boundaries to conduct transformative research in Quantitative Reasoning, Visual Thinking, and Scientific Cognition.
In a world 'awash in numbers', quantitative reasoning is an increasingly critical skill for undergraduate STEM majors. A contemporary approach to teaching and learning must necessarily challenge disciplinary boundaries and foster quantitative competency in all STEM disciplines, not just traditional mathematic contexts. Our research investigates students' development of quantitative thinking skills and their abilities to employ quantitative thinking across domains.
Scientists of the 21st century will need to be fluent in constructing, applying, and evaluating external representations (e.g., graphs, diagrams, drawings, images, etc) to make sense of and communicate about increasingly complex data sets. Research on visual thinking seeks to characterize the external representations used in STEM courses and to understand how students think and reason with external representations.
Calls to transform undergraduate science curricula seek to reform instruction to better reflect the tools and practices of science. Indeed, the ways in which scientists think about and engage in science are rapidly evolving. Technological advances have resulted in the proliferation of large data sets that address novel research questions, unanswerable even a century ago. Concurrently, technology has evolved such that creating and sharing complex data sets is almost as simple as a click of the mouse. How do we develop these complex skills in the next generation of scientists and citizens to prepare them for a world where technological and scientific advances are exploding? Research on scientific cognition attempts to understand students' information-processing, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills to answer this question.
Involved faculty: Dr. Lisa Montplaisir, Dr. Mila Kryjevskaia