History of PKAL

PKAL Phase I: 1989-1991

With support from the National Science Foundation, PKAL:

  • outlines an agenda for reform of undergraduate SME&T and presents this agenda, with its rationale, in PKAL Volume I: What Works-- Building Natural Science Communities and at the first PKAL National Colloquium at the National Academy of Sciences (1991).
  • joins the growing national effort to build and sustain undergraduate SME&T programs that serves students and society most effectively.

The challenge to PKAL in Phase I was to identify what works, to bring successful policies and practices to the attention of the larger undergraduate community, and to facilitate the adaptation of such programs in other settings. Although there was growing evidence about what works, successful reforms were often isolated instances of success, and were not available to serve as models for adaptation. PKAL Volume II presented data describing institutional productivity in SME&T.

PKAL Leadership Committees began their work by focusing on questions:

  • Scientists love doing science. How can the curriculum be organized so as to induce science and mathematics students to enjoy studying these disciplines from the very first day?
  • Real science is carried out by teams in settings where face-to-face communication and shared values create a common culture. How can students begin to develop a sense of membership in a science community from the very first day?
  • Science is a human enterprise, connected to other disciplines and ways of thinking. How can we teach science so that connections and consequences are visible and appreciated from the very first day?

Phase I funding also came from the Exxon Education Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc., and the Research Corporation.