What is the Summer Institute in Teaching Science?
The Summer Institute in Teaching Science (SITS) is an opportunity for faculty in the BJU Division of Natural Science to refocus their teaching on principles. A structured but flexible framework encourages faculty interaction and provides the tools needed to assess existing coursework and catalyze improvement. Time is provided to discuss ethical and philosophical issues, catch up on professional reading, prepare course materials, and engage in meaningful activities not permitted by the rigor of the school year.
The Summer Institute in Teaching Science exists to promote principle-driven curricula in the Division of Natural Science and to aid faculty in reaching their God-given potentials for teaching.
This effort began in the summer of 2004 with four science faculty. We are pleased with the past accomplishments.
The educational philosophy of SITS has been summarized in the SITS Master Plan. SITS participants are working hard to define the elements we think are essential in developing our curricula. These include the following:
- A firmly Christian worldview
In cooperation with the Bible Integration team at the BJU Press, we are implementing some guidelines for Bible integration in the classroom. Every class in the Science Division will eventually be evaluated according to these guidelines.
- A clear understanding of how a person in each discipline thinks
We are concerned that our science majors learn not just the facts of science, but also how to “think like a scientist.” However, thinking like a physicist is quite different from thinking like a chemist or a biologist or an engineer. We are developing a set of “Thinking like a…” documents to describe this high-level thinking.
- A view of our subject matter that is principle-based, not just conceptual or factual
We are developing “principle maps” for each course and for each discipline that seek to formally describe the content of that course or discipline. Since we view the principles as the tools for thinking clearly within each subject in the various disciplines, it is our intent to structure course design around a clear articulation of the principles.
- Strategies for teaching that facilitate communicating the course content to the students on a principle level
It is one thing for a teacher to have a good understanding of the principles of his field. It is another to communicate those principles within a robust conceptual framework to the students. We are working on teaching strategies that require active learning on the part of the students rather than just passive note taking.