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SITS Philosophy of Teaching Science: A Three-legged Stool

Multiple summers of SITS participation are intended to address the three main areas that support student learning as well as to give time for further course development.

  • Clear-thinking Teachers
    The first summer is primarily designed to affect the thinking of the teacher. If the teacher doesn't think clearly about his subject, then nothing else he does really matters. During the first summer of SITS the focus is on helping faculty to learn how to think clearly about their subject in terms of principles.
  • Clear Classroom Communicators
    The teacher may think clearly and yet have significant difficulty communicating in the classroom. Thus the second aspect of SITS is learning how to communicate principles in the classroom in an effective manner that engages the mind of the student. This crucial component of student learning is the focus of the second summer of SITS.
  • Substantive Student Assessment
    A clear-thinking teacher can clearly communicate principles in the classroom and still compromise student learning by rewarding recall of information rather than understanding of principles in tests and other forms of assessment. Thus, the third summer of SITS is focused on principle-driven assessment to complete the triad of principle-driven learning.

After several summers of participation in SITS, faculty will have a good grasp of the SITS approach to learning. In future summers of involvement faculty will then be expected to help teach other, less-experienced SITS participants, as part of their continuing education in principle-driven instruction. Seasoned SITS members will also be operating at an optimal level in thoughtful revisions of one of their own courses. Most faculty teach several different courses each semester with both a lecture and a lab component. Only the lecture or lab component can be addressed in a single summer. By the time all of the courses have been subjected to a SITS revision, it will likely be time to start over again because of the rapidity with which science is moving. Thus we expect the need for SITS involvement to continue indefinitely.