This document may be too large for your printer buffer to handle. We suggest downloading this document to a disk if printing difficulties are encountered or e-mailing the author for a hard copy by clicking on his/her name.
"Education is not a neutral activity."1 Since it is designed to affect the way students look at the world, education will have some effect on their character. Even those students who end up poorly educated in the subject matter learn many things from their instructors that transcend the lessons found on a syllabus. Every decision we make and every action we take as educators contains an ethical lesson. Decisions about course content, pedagogy, even scheduling, involve a choice of competing priorities and therefore communicate a sense of values. How we relate to the students in class, how we relate to the subject matter, how we respond to issues from other disciplines, and how we respond to questions in class, all provide lessons that are powerful insights into our own character because we are providing them "by example" rather than "as examples." As Coppola and Smith so compellingly argue, "Like it or not, we are all moral philosophers."2
Because ethics is pervasive, the crucial question is how to keep the moral dimension in balance with the intellectual training that is usually considered the main purpose of the university. The answer has at least three parts: instructional goals, appropriate pedagogy, and administrative structure and practice. While we cannot claim to have developed a complete and coherent answer, we offer some ideas to stimulate a discussion of what a morally reflective educational practice might look like. Our perspective is that of long-time chemistry educators, but we will try to make connections with other disciplines where we can. C. P. Snow's "Two Cultures" notwithstanding3, we believe that the basic principles of a morally reflective educational practice transcend disciplinary lines.
By morally reflective educational practice we mean more than just discussions of the moral implications of a subject or the inclusion of professional ethics in a course. Both are important. The first, however, is both obvious and a widespread practice, particularly in the humanities and social sciences. The second has received considerable attention recently, and materials for the teaching of professional ethics are increasingly available.4 Our concern is with education as a relational human activity that has a moral dimension. All decisions about educational practice have both a technical and an ethical component. Examples include setting curricular goals, designing courses (both content and pedagogy), standards for promotion and tenure of faculty, and allocation of funds. Our main concerns in this essay are curricular and course decisions made by faculty. What are the ethical questions that arise?
The experience of students in a contemporary university education is dis-integrated.5 Instruction has fragmented along disciplinary and even sub-disciplinary lines, mapping perfectly onto the intellectual dis-integration of the academy that is a hallmark consequence of the rapid progress that has been seen in almost all areas of inquiry. Decisions to create even smaller units are often made from the narrowing perspective of justifying one's own existence within the financial structure of the institution. Coppola and Daniels6 have also pointed out that the world is inescapably integrated and that it is only the structure of formal inquiry that has led to dis-integrative tendencies. They suggest that the occasional trend toward integration in pedagogy would be better termed as re-integration. We propose that a re-integrative perspective is also necessary in the value-based dimensions of formal education, a perspective from which the moral component is re-integrated into a college education. Further, a re-integration of knowledge is necessary to provide the broad perspective required to appreciate moral complexity.7
A first step in re-integrating the moral dimension is the development of broad instructional goals. The design of courses and curricula ordinarily focuses on the intellectual goals which are of three general types: (1) professional technical goals, the specialized knowledge that majors in the field need to learn, (2) professional intellectual goals, the broad themes and skills of the discipline, and (3) general intellectual, the broad goals of a liberal arts education.8 In chemistry, for example, the American Chemical Society Committee on Professional Training has produced excellent guidelines for the technical training of professional chemists. While these guidelines address the professional technical and professional intellectual goals of an education in chemistry they are silent on the issue of development of intellectual and professional integrity. Neither do they consider the general intellectual goals nor relationship between chemistry and other disciplines other than to discuss prerequisite courses in subjects such as mathematics and physics and to present a few options for upper division electives to broaden the traditional major slightly.
College curricula are always prefaced with statements that outline the intellectual goals of the various requirements. Such statements ordinarily leave both the moral dimensions of education and the re-integration of knowledge untouched except perhaps in a single "capstone" course. The instructional goals we propose are an attempt to address this imbalance.
The core of the re-integrative philosophy is a morally reflective pedagogy. Intellectual honesty mandates consistency between instructional goals (both intellectual and ethical) and practice. As teachers we must be examples of the kinds of scholars and people that we expect our students to become. Since education is a relational human activity, our pedagogical practice must consider the legitimate needs and self-interest of students as well as those of faculty. We illustrate these principles below with examples from our own teaching.
Finally, the re-integrative philosophy must extend to administrative policy and practice. The policies of the institution must reflect the balance between ethical and intellectual goals of education. Administrative policies and decisions must also consider explicitly the moral dimension of each decision. Policies that affect students and faculty must support the re-integrative philosophy so that it may flourish. We address these administrative issues at the end the essay.
Coppola and Smith have outlined three broad instructional goals for science education to keep the moral dimension in balance with intellectual training. While it is possible to think of these three goals as a subset of the professional intellectual and general intellectual goals described above, we fell that it is important to state them explicitly since they are rarely addressed. We have modified them slightly to make them more broadly applicable and added a fourth goal concerning the re-integration of knowledge. The goals begin with the personal, the development of character. The second goal relates to the cognitive skills common to both the intellectual and moral dimensions of education. The third focuses on individual disciplinary skills again in both the intellectual and ethical realm. The fourth addresses the broad re-integration of knowledge which embeds individual disciplines in a larger perspective. These goals can be incorporated into educational planning at all levels from the individual course to overall curriculum development.
1. The Development of Character. In the nineteenth century the primary goal of a liberal arts education in the United States was the development of character.9 Most colleges were controlled by churches and the presidents were upright and often erudite clergymen. Most of the faculty were not scholars and the education was at a fairly low level. The capstone course on "moral philosophy" or "ethics," usually taught by the president, concerned how a "Christian gentleman" should conduct himself in a sinful world. In the twentieth century, the demands of an increasingly industrial and technological society changed the nature of American higher education dramatically. The need for technical and professional training took precedence over the cultivation of virtue. The German model was adopted and colleges and universities became places to receive a specialized education leading to a career in such fields as engineering, law, medicine or science. Faculties became populated by scholars rather than young college graduates aspiring to be clergymen. The teaching of the important human virtue of character, once thought to be the hallmark of the educated gentleman, was largely left to others: parents or religious institutions. To bring the moral dimension back into balance with the sophisticated intellectual training of the modern university we need to once again address the question of character.
Our concept of character includes at least the following:
* Understanding the relevant standards and ideals that govern moral decisions, both in personal and professional situations.
* Awareness of the moral complexity of real-world situations. As nicely stated by Caroline Whitbeck, many practical ethical problems call for coping rather than solving.10 Problems in practical ethics rarely have clean solutions; usually some moral principle or rule is compromised. Learning to see priorities for what they are, to balance them, and to design solutions to complex moral problems should be a major goal of college education.
Character is incomplete without the strength to act on these three passive skills so we add a fourth characteristic,
* Moral courage. The willingness to make difficult decisions, act on them, and publicly to state those decisions and the reasons for them.
These four characteristics are similar in substance to the definition of integrity developed by Stephen L. Carter.11 For Carter, integrity requires three steps: discernment of right from wrong, acting on what is right, and openly stating that you are acting on your judgment of what is right. The word integrity derives from the same root as integer and suggests a wholeness of character, a coherence of thought, values and action.
2. The Development of Cognitive Skills. Higher order thinking skills such as deductive and inductive logic, problem solving, and analogical and synthetic thinking are essential both to disciplinary learning and to moral discernment.
3. The Development of Disciplinary Skills. Each discipline has at least an implicit code of professional practice. This code has been discussed in detail by Kovac.12 A slightly different approach of was presented by Coppola and Smith who outlined three categories for goals for educational practice. Implicit in both formulations is the responsibility that the members of a discipline or profession have to their peers, to the discipline itself, to the academy and to the public.
* Responsibility to the Process. It is important that students understand the process by which knowledge is acquired and verified within the discipline. The study of the history and philosophy of the discipline is useful in this context.
* Responsibility to the Academy. By this we mean the responsibility that members of the discipline have to the broader university community including collaborators from other disciplines and students.
* Responsibility to the Public. Each discipline or profession has a relationship with the larger society which implies an accountability for the scholar. In some disciplines, such as science, the large public investment in research demands regular accountability. There has recently been considerable discussion of the public perception of the irrelevancy of much of the current scholarship in the humanities and social sciences and the consequences of that irrelevancy.13
4. Re-integration of Knowledge. Individual disciplines and sub-disciplines have developed powerful, but specialized, methods for discovering and verifying knowledge. The moral dimension, however, requires a broader perspective. Understanding the interrelationships among the various disciplinary "ways of knowing" is essential to an appreciation of the moral complexity of real-world problems. Re-integration can also both lead to intellectual insights not possible in a narrow disciplinary context and to the development of character.
While instructional goals are important, particularly in course and curriculum planning, they often only affect "first day" activities of courses. The first day is usually filled with grand rhetoric about the larger purposes of the course such as development of critical thinking skills, exploring interdisciplinary connections, and even exploring the ethical perspective on the course material. On day two, however, experienced faculty often revert to old habits, teaching the same material in the same old way.14 We know of many curricular reforms where innovations simply do not survive the innovator, and the difference between an old course and a reformed course ends up being only the course number. Fulfilling the expectations of the first day, which only requires an intellectual commitment, is challenge enough. The changes in personal behavior that must begin on day two are much more complex, both for faculty and students. The core of a morally reflective educational practice is in the example set by faculty in their teaching.
In the following paragraphs we will lay out some principles of a morally reflective pedagogy. These principles are mainly drawn from recent developments in chemical education and our own efforts to improve our teaching. Although these ideas originate from our experiences in teaching science, they are quite general and can inform teaching practices throughout the academy.
Dis-Integration and Re-integration15
While the world is prima facie an integral whole, the structure of intellectual inquiry has become increasingly dis- integrated over the last 100 years. Under the guardianship of its faculty, the academy has divided again and again into specialized disciplines and sub-disciplines. The seemingly inexorable historical process of division followed by separation, which is usually termed progress, has had extensive benefits in expanding our knowledge of the world. Research and scholarship are increasingly deep and sophisticated. In science and engineering, specialization has led to enormous advances in both fundamental knowledge and technology. On the other hand, dis- integration also leads to isolation. Our own field of chemistry began to separate from natural philosophy in the late eighteenth century and was a well established separate discipline by the middle of the nineteenth. At this point in the twentieth century the sub-disciplines have matured to such a degree that today it is sometimes difficult for a "physical" chemist to communicate with an "organic" chemist on scientific questions.
As teachers of chemistry our major task is to help students understand the world through the powerful lens that chemists have developed, but it would irresponsible for us to forget that this is only one perspective. Unfortunately most science teaching has relegated the obvious connections to disciplines outside of science to occasional textbook "sidebars" of historical, environmental or other societal interest. Philosophical discussions, including discussions of the important questions of scientific and professional ethics, are nonexistent. While science education is notoriously narrow, we suspect, for example, that a student could take a college course in English history and not hear of Newton, Faraday or Maxwell, three of the greatest minds in history. How many American history courses even mention that Benjamin Franklin was a scientist of a stature comparable to Newton, not just an eccentric who flew a kite in a thunderstorm?16 The dis-integration of knowledge within the university is virtually complete.
A morally reflective pedagogy demands that we attempt wherever possible to re-integrate knowledge by helping our students see connections between disciplines and exploring common themes. As Coppola and Daniels17 point out, there are three kinds of intellectual objectives in any course. The most detailed and specialized objectives are the professional technical, the things we want our majors to learn. Professional intellectual objectives are the overarching themes and skills of the discipline. These are the fundamental questions that the discipline asks. It is also important for a course to address the general intellectual objectives that are the broad goals of a liberal arts education.
The traditional solution to the problem of dis-integration is distribution requirements: force students to take courses in a variety of disciplines and let them make the connections. While it is hard to disagree with the general strategy for a broad education (both of us benefitted from such distribution requirements in our own college educations), it is not safe to assume that students will make the connections without guidance. Neither is it safe to assume that the proliferation of isolated "non-majors" courses will be representative of the disciplines themselves. As faculty advisors we ask students to assimilate information across disciplinary boundaries at the time when they are least able to do so. Most students are not expert learners! A morally reflective educational practice requires faculty to provide students with guidance in making those connections. Two examples from our own teaching will illustrate what we mean.
In several articles we have discussed the integration of scientific ethics into the teaching of chemistry.18 One convenient pedagogical technique is what Kovac has called the "ethics moment," introducing a technical subject by discussing its connection with professional ethics. For example, one can introduce the rather boring topic of significant figures in the reporting of data as an issue of truth telling and professional trust. Such a cross-disciplinary discussion connects the professional technical level to both the professional intellectual and the general intellectual. Following this with a discussion or writing assignment using the case study method would make the connection even more secure.19
Certain skills, such as writing, transcend disciplines. Since writing is important in science, it is essential that it be included as a course requirement either as informal "writing to learn" assignments or as more formal professional writing: proposals, research papers, and the like.20 This is a general intellectual objective that cannot be left to the English department. In the Structured Study Group program that comprises the Honors option for introductory organic chemistry at the University of Michigan, Coppola and Daniels have provided a "performance studio" format for reading and reporting on the primary chemistry literature. Assignments are structured around the peer review of both the content of the literature and its expression. After the students have experience with analyzing and discussing case studies in research ethics, they then write and review their own cases which generally reveal insights into their complex and integrated worlds.21
Knowledge is constructed
Modern learning theory holds that knowledge cannot be transmitted, but instead is constructed by the learner.22 We are not referring to a radical social constructivist view of knowledge,23 nor to one where the mind is viewed as an "empty attic" (the Sherlock Holmes view) in which knowledge is stored like so much old furniture. Instead, learning is viewed as an active process in which learners must reconstruct knowledge for themselves. The crucial questions for a morally reflective educational practice are (1) how should courses be structured to allow students to construct for themselves the knowledge that forms the content of the course, and (2) how can instructors know that students are constructing knowledge in correct or appropriate ways, in other words, know that we are being understood?
Those of us who become professors were good learners as students, or more accurately, good learners within the context of the instructional practices in which we found ourselves. Usually on our own, we learned to construct knowledge within that context. We figured out how to do well on the assignments and examinations that are the measure of success in the university. The techniques we developed were highly personal and intuitive. Probably only the most reflective faculty can actually describe the methods they use. In fact, as expert learners, we use a variety of strategies, moving from one to the other as the situation demands. Our best students do the same, but most students need more guidance than we give them. The usual advice, study more, work more problems, take good lecture notes, etc., does not give students a workable strategy for constructing knowledge. A morally reflective educational practice requires that we provide explicit strategies to guide students in the construction of knowledge and the development of skills because it is our responsibility. Two strategies for facilitating student learning are to promote active learning and to teach with trust.24
Student active learning techniques are designed to decrease passive (hence, disengaged) observation as the main classroom activity, particularly in large classes.25 An extensive menu of engaging activities has been developed with the intention of extending the classroom learning process by having students apply their understanding to various tasks during class time. In advanced courses taught in small sections, it is fairly easy to engage students in dialogue although many science (and other) faculty still give formal lectures even to a few students. In enormous sections of introductory courses, actively engaging students is challenging, but far from impossible. Techniques such as informal writing (the "five-minute" essay), list and example creation, think-pair-share, and ConcepTests (informal cooperative learning) have been used successfully to create a Socratic dialogue between instructor and student, even in the largest courses.26 Scheduled discussion meetings can be used for cooperative learning workshops led by teaching assistants.27 Semi-structured study groups28 can be organized and provided with suggested tasks; cooperative assignments and take-home exams can be given to encourage (require) students to engage in active learning.
These examples show that innovative teaching and learning strategies are accessible; but the willingness to devote the time and energy to trying them is hard to find. In science teaching, a major barrier is the perceived need of most faculty to cover content. The progress of science and technology in the twentieth century contributes to enormous pressure to cram more and more material into science courses. Most current textbooks for introductory chemistry are about 1,000 pages long. The one that Kovac learned from in an honors general chemistry course in 1967 was 650, of which only the first 450 or so were covered. The organic chemistry text used by Coppola in 1975 was 1,240 pages, the majority of which was covered. Similar pressures to cover increasing amounts of factual content exist in other natural sciences. Faculty feel that they cannot "waste" precious lecture time on active learning techniques. Coppola and Daniels29 have pointed out that this attitude is based on a false dichotomy between content and process, which are actually synergistic variables. Content without process results in the "encyclopedist," a person who knows lots of things but cannot use them; process without content results in the "intellectual amnesiac," a person who knows how to think, but has nothing to think about. A morally reflective educational practice must combine the two, re-integrate them. Even if they are given less factual content, students who are taught the process by which it is constructed will become more capable of learning without being shown. When we facilitate the development of expert learning skills our students will be able to learn any additional content as needed.
If students are genuinely to construct knowledge, their points of view must be respected. Faculty must learn to "teach with trust." Despite our best efforts, students will make their own, occasionally idiosyncratic constructions.30 Our ability, as faculty, to help them to better (correct) constructions in the context of the broader knowledge base requires that we understand exactly what they have learned.31 Coppola has presented the following example to show that a casual interpretation of what a student has done can lead to completely inappropriate advice.
What advice do you give to the student who presents the following examples of multiplication problems?
|2 x 2 = 4||-1 x 0.5 = -0.5||1.1 x 11 = 12.1|
|3.5 x 1.4 = 4.9||2 x 4 = 6||-3 x 0.75 = -2.25|
To save the reader the trouble of working out the solutions, we will point out that five of the six answers are correct as multiplications (2 x 4 is obviously not 6), but that all six are correct as addition problems. At first glance, the student's error appears to be not knowing that 2 x 4 = 8, but a more detailed examination reveals that it was in confusing multiplication with addition.
Teaching with trust means really listening to students, taking them and their understanding seriously and working with them to construct a better (more correct) understanding of the subject or to show how the more correct understanding fits with larger enterprises.
The Hidden Curriculum
Sheila Tobias, a well known student and critic of contemporary science education, has recently turned her attention to what she calls "the hidden curriculum": testing.32 She observes that unless testing (and, by implication, other assignments) accurately reflect the goals of the course, students will learn what the exams expect and ignore everything else. Put another way, changing the content and the pedagogy of the course will not be effective unless the exams and other assignments are also changed. Students are not stupid; they know what matters. At the recent Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, Tobias told the story of a physics professor who made significant changes in the content of his course, emphasizing broader issues, but soon found his students ignoring all the interesting historical, philosophical and societal issues that he raised. Since he had not changed the problem assignments or the tests, the students focused on the "old fashioned" material on the exams, judging that everything else was window dressing.
Because morally reflective educational practice requires a consistency between the course material and the methods of evaluation, professional intellectual and general intellectual objectives must be part of the course and part of the examinations. If development of critical thinking and expert problem solving skills are important objectives, then the exams should test those skills. John C. Wright, for example, has developed a course based on these principles at the University of Wisconsin.33 A major component of that course is cooperative take-home examinations that require expert problem solving skills. In summary, to make the hidden curriculum consistent with the rest of the course we should remember two of the principles for a liberal (arts) education in chemistry articulated by Coppola and Daniels: (1) Use authentic problems (or assignments) to elicit authentic skills, and (2) make examinations reflect your goals.34 Tests should also be vehicles for re-integration.
Educational Goals, Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences
All students are different. They come to the university and to our courses with different goals, different abilities and different disabilities. A morally reflective educational practice requires that we take those differences into account and try to accommodate them as much as possible. Hoffmann and Coppola have recently published some "heretical thoughts on what our students are telling us."35 Among other lessons. they point out that our students are telling us that they don't have to learn everything in our courses to function in their careers or as human beings. One can drive an automobile without any understanding of the thermodynamics of combustion and one can successfully use a calculator or a personal computer without knowing digital electronics or software design. Certainly it would be better if we understood these things, but life requires choices. A recurring phrase in educational philosophy is "need to know." If a practical use of a technology is required, then an operational understanding is generally sufficient. The matching between task-demand and learning was discussed in the section on examinations. If the need to examine a thing more deeply is required, then the tasks and the instruction must be adjusted accordingly. At some level, for the majority of technological applications on which we all rely daily, our operational (need to know) understanding is sufficient to the tasks we are expected to accomplish: driving to the store, turning on the television set, operating the microwave oven, or making contact with www.anywhere.com (a real URL, by the way). Students come to our courses with legitimate goals that are different from the ideal goals that we faculty hope they bring, goals that in many ways reflect our intellectual arrogance about our discipline's priority in describing the world.
Students also come to our class with different learning styles36 or, in Howard Gardner's formulation, different mixes of intelligences.37 It is possible to take these differences into account and design learning activities that allow students to succeed. The preferred learning style of most faculty involves passive acquisition and reflective processing of information. After all, we succeeded in learning through the lecture method. That happens to be Kovac's preferred learning style, but his wife is quite different. She wants to process information actively. She prefers to try out the new computer, rather than read the manual.
In a second round of "heretical thoughts," Coppola and Pearson38 have outlined some of the principles of "big picture" instruction learned in the context of their graduate education that have greatly affected their teaching of undergraduate chemistry. Some years ago Kovac, in his role as a soccer referee instructor, was required to attend a short course on basic pedagogical techniques given by the U. S. Soccer Federation. The content of the course was not difficult, but he found himself very frustrated and angry. He later realized that the course had not addressed one of his most important needs as a learner; instead of giving the "big picture" at the beginning, the instructors taught the material in disconnected small units. With no context, he had difficulty learning the material in the individual lessons. Only later, when he had time to reflect on the entire course did everything made sense. A brief discussion at the beginning of the course providing a context and a few words in each lesson relating it to the overall structure would have made the course very easy for him.
If our courses are difficult for some students perhaps it is because we do not provide appropriate entry points for students with a variety of goals and learning styles. Students ultimately must become comfortable with all learning styles; different subjects are best learned in different ways. On the other hand, providing different entry points and metaphors for learning will draw more students into the subject, giving them a chance to master the subject and, perhaps, a new learning style.
Reflective Research and Scholarly Practice
Perhaps the best opportunity to engage in morally reflective educational practice is in working with students on independent research and scholarly projects. In this context faculty can serve as role models by engaging in reflective practice and demonstrating a high standard of professional ethics. Engaging students in authentic scholarship brings together all the elements of a morally reflective educational practice in a human setting. It is the most powerful form of education mainly because it usually requires re-integration.
ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE AND PRACTICE
Most of the burden of developing a morally reflective educational practice will fall on faculty and students, but the administration at all levels must be supportive of faculty efforts, and administrative policies and practice must be consistent with the highest standards of academic and professional ethics. The instructional goals and the pedagogical principles outlined above have implications for university policy and administrative practice which we will discuss in the following paragraphs. Rather than give detailed recommendations, which will certainly vary from campus to campus, we will outline some general principles.
The university's commitment to the highest standards of professional and academic ethics for students, faculty, staff, and administrators should be clearly stated. Most colleges and universities publish codes of student conduct, and faculty handbooks often contain codes of faculty conduct. These documents, however, are rarely read or discussed other than in moments of crisis. Issues in academic and professional ethics should be part of the ongoing public discussion on a campus.
As in the teaching of scientific ethics, the discussion must confront the moral dimension of real-life day-to-day decisions made by faculty and administrator. Broad discussions of ethical principles and standards of conduct are usually not very effective. Real ethical problems both demand a solution and usually require a compromise of principles. We find the analogy between ethical questions and engineering design problems developed by Caroline Whitbeck to be very compelling in this context.39
Administrators (and faculty) can set an example by being openly morally reflective about the decisions that they make. In any explanation of a particular decision, the moral dimension should be publicly discussed, not just the technical considerations. If leaders engage in ethical reflection, they give others permission to do the same.
While faculty can re-integrate knowledge on a course by course basis, the academy as a whole can be re-integrated only if university policy and practice reflect the value of re- integration. Currently, broadly interdisciplinary work is generally considered an eccentricity at best and a waste of time at worst. A common metaphor for collaboration between disparate departments is a dysphemism, "getting into bed with one another."40 Our own wide ranging collaborations with colleagues in disciplines as different as English and education are not highly regarded by most of our chemistry colleagues. Even publishing a series of chemistry-oriented cartoons41 was viewed by some as a potential cause for concern because they would appear during the year when a tenure decision for Coppola was being made! Even though facilitating a dialogue among faculty in different fields is difficult in the dis-integrated university, administrative mechanisms must be found. Interdisciplinary centers like the UTK Center for Applied and Professional Ethics offer one solution, but participation in such activities also must be valued at the department level where the crucial decisions about tenure, promotion and salary are made. Just as tests tell students what is important in the course, the reward structure shows faculty what the institution values.
While re-integration efforts must be encouraged at the higher administrative levels, we think the crucial step is support by department heads or chairs and senior faculty within departments. If re-integrative scholarship and pedagogy are not supported at the department level, then the only people who attempt them will be the courageous eccentrics who are willing to risk professional success. Just as we demand re-integrative behavior from our students, who after all, are generally the only ones on campus who travel from department to department, even from course to course within a department, university faculty must demand this behavior from department and the academy at large.
University faculty, outside of schools of education, are notorious for their disdain of pedagogy. As scholars we seem to feel that knowledge of content is all that matters. If we provide a good course, full of the latest developments in our field, students will learn. We focus on teaching rather than learning, often with disastrous results. Lunch table conversations about how our courses are going are filled with destructive nostalgia about how much better students were "in the old days."
Facilitating a broad-scale conversation about pedagogy is a difficult task, particularly in a research university where faculty are engaged in exciting scholarship, but a morally reflective educational practice (which is a type of content) demands that pedagogy be taken as seriously as factual content. At least in the public eye, students are the reason for the existence of the university. Their interests in a high-quality education that prepares them to be effective participants in the society are paramount.
We must move beyond the views that (1) teaching is merely the organization and delivery of content, and (2) the primary goal of pedagogical innovation is the production of "artifacts" such as textbooks or, currently, interactive computer programs. As we have discussed at length, pedagogical innovation requires changes in faculty behavior, the most difficult change of all. It is the difference between knowing (intellectually) that a good diet and regular program of exercise are truly the right things to do and the observation that the world has plenty of overweight, sedentary physicians who also smoke.
Since we are talking about change at the core, we know that the process will be slow. The first step is to facilitate a public discussion of pedagogy among university faculty, initially at the department level, and eventually broadening so that ideas can be shared across disciplines. Such a discussion has begun among chemistry faculty nationwide. While the current discussion is stimulated in part by the systemic initiatives program for curriculum reform funded by the National Science Foundation as well as support for educational innovation provided by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, the core problems of sustained reform will not be solved unless the behaviors persist after the funding is removed. If conservative chemistry faculty can begin to think about (and act on!) pedagogical innovation, other disciplines can certainly do the same.
Education at its best is transformation. Any enterprise with a goal of human transformation must be concerned with ethics. We have tried to outline some elements of a morally reflective educational practice: instructional goals, pedagogy and administrative policy and practice. Two major themes have emerged, we think. First, all decisions about educational practice have a moral dimension, and second, the most important changes are not in goals and principles but in behavior of faculty, of administration, and ultimately of students.
1. B. P. Coppola and D. H. Smith, "A Case for Ethics, " J. Chem. Educ., 1996, 73, 33.
2. Coppola and Smith, see note 1.
3. This famous phrase describing the inability of scientists and non-scientists to communicate was introduced in C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures: and A Second Look, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1969.
4. See, for example, J. Kovac, The Ethical Chemist, The University of Tennessee: Knoxville, 1995. This casebook provides materials to teach scientific and professional ethics to chemistry students.
5. B. P. Coppola nd D. S. Daniels, "Mea Culpa: Formal Education and the Dis-Integrated World, " Science and Education, in press.
6. B. P. Coppola and D. S. Daniels, see note 5.
7. R. B. Perry, "Education and the Science of Education, " in I. Scheffler (ed), Philosophy and Education: Selected Readings, Second Ed., Allyn and Bacon: Boston, 1966; R. S. Peters, "What is an Educational Process, " in R. S. Peters (ed), The Concept of Education, Humanities Press: New York, 1967.
8. B. P. Coppola and D. S. Daniels, "Structuring the Liberal (Arts) Education in Chemistry", Chem. Educator, 1(2), S 1430-4171 (96) 02018-3. 9. M. Davis, "The Ethics Boom: What and Why", The Centennial Review, 1990 34, 163; C. Jencks and D. Riesman, The Academic Revolution, Doubleday: New York 1968; J. A. Reuben, The Making of the Modern University: Intellectual Transformation and the Marginalization of Morality, University of Chicago: Chicago, 1996.
10. C. Whitbeck, "Ethics as Design: Doing Justice to Moral Problems", Hastings Center Report, 1996, 26, 9.
11. S. L. Carter, Integrity, Basic Books: New York, 1996.
12. J. Kovac, "Ethics in Science Education", Proceedings of the 1996 Conference on Values in Higher Education.
13. D. Damrosch, We Scholars: Changing the Culture of the University, Harvard: Cambridge, 1995.
14. S. N. Ege, B. P. Coppola, and R. G. Lawton, "The University of Michigan Undergraduate Chemistry Curriculum: Philosophy, Curriculum and the Nature of Changes", J. Chem. Educ. 1997, 74, 74-83.
15. B. P. Coppola and D. S. Daniels, see note 5.
16. I. B. Cohen, Franklin and Newton, American Philosophical Society: Philadelphia, 1956.
17. B. P. Coppola and D. S. Daniels, see note 8.
18. J. Kovac, Scientific Ethics in Chemical Education", J. Chem. Educ., 1996, 73, 926; also see note 13.
19. J. Kovac, see note 4.
20. J. Kovac and D. W. Sherwood, "Writing Across the Chemistry Curriculum", STC Proceedings, in press.
21. B. P. Coppola and D. S. Daniels, "The Role of Written and Verbal Expression in Learning. Promoting and Improving Communication Skills for Students in an Undergraduate Chemistry Program", Language and Learning Across the Disciplines, 1996, 1,(3), 873-878.
22. G. Bodner, "Constructivism: A Theory of Knowledge", J. Chem. Educ. 1986, 63, 873-878.
23. There is a large literature in the philosophy and sociology of science based on a constructivist view of reality. Most of this literature traces itself to Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (University of Chicago: Chicago, 1970). A large amount of the recent literature is summarized in the anti-constructivist polemic, Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrel with Science, by P. R. Gross and N. Levitt (Johns Hopkins: Baltimore, MD, 1994.) For a more balanced view of the issues, see Stephen Shapin, A Social History of Truth (University of Chicago: Chicago, 1994).
24. B. P. Coppola and D. S. Daniels, see note 8.
25. See for example, J. M. Olmsted III, "Using Classroom Research in a Large Introductory Science Class," in T. A. Angelo (ed.) "Classroom Research: Early Lessons from Success, " New Directions for Teaching and Learning, No 46, Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, 1990, pp 71-82; D. W. Johnson, R. T. Johnson, K. A. Smith, Active Learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom, Interaction: Edina, MN, 1991.
26. See, for example, J. C. Wright, "Authentic Learning Environment in Analytical Chemistry Using Cooperative Methods and Open-Ended Laboratories in Large Lecture Courses, " J. Chem. Educ. , 199673, 827; A. B. Ellis, A. Cappellari, J. K. Lorenz, D. E. Moore and G. C. Lisensky, "Experiences with ConcepTests."; B. P. Coppola and D. S. Daniels, note 8; J. Kovac, "Student Active Learning Method in General Chemistry," unpublished manuscript.
27. D. M. Hansen, "An Instructor's Guide to Process Workshops," Department of Chemistry, SUNY Stony Brook, 1996.
28. B. P. Coppola, S. N. Ege and R. G. Lawton, "The University of Michigan Undergraduate Chemistry Curriculum. 2. Instructional Strategies and Assessment, " J. Chem. Educ., 1997, 74, 84-94.
29. B. P. Coppola and D. S. Daniels, see note 8.
30. R. Hoffmann and B. P. Coppola, "Some Heretical Thoughts on What Our Students are Telling Us," J. College Science Teaching, 1996, 25, 390.
31. B. P. Coppola and W. H. Pearson, "Heretical Thoughts II: These on Lessons We Learned from our Graduate Advisor that Have Impacted on Our Undergraduate Teaching," J. College Science Teaching, in press.
32. S. Tobias and J. Raphael, J. College Science Teaching, 1995, 24 , 242; The Hidden Curriculum: Faculty-Made Tests in College-Level Science, Plenum, forthcoming.
33. J. C. Wright, see note 26.
34. B. P. Coppola and D. S. Daniels, see note 8.
35. R. Hoffmann and B. P. Coppola, see note 30.
36. L. B. Krause, "An Investigation of Learning Styles in General Chemistry Students," Ph. D. Dissertation, Clemson University, 1996.
37. H. Gradner, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Basic Books: New York, 1983.
38. B. P. Coppla and Pearson, see note 31.
39. C. Whitbeck, see note 10.
40. B. P. Coppola and H. D. Daniels, see note 5.
41. B. P. Copploa, D. S. Daniels and R. G. Konsler, "Under the Hood," Chemical Intelligencer, 1997, 3(1), 51-53.
|Talk to the Conference Participants|
Questions and comments may be directed to the Conference Convenor, Alvin G. Burstein or individual authors by clicking on his/her name.
This page has been accessed times.
Last updated: July 22, 1997