Occasional Paper I: What Works, 1993

A Research-rich Environment

Given that numerous reports have documented serious problems confronting undergraduate science and mathematics, this report argues for a research-rich undergraduate environment and suggests creating lab-intensive, interdisciplinary classrooms that are strongly supported by faculty, their institutions, and shareholders on a national level.

Table of Contents

Shaping a New Educational Philosophy

Setting an Action Agenda

A Focus on Students

A Focus on Faculty

A Focus on Partnerships

A Focus on Context

This information follows from a PKAL Invitational Colloquium held at the National Academy of Sciences on February 1 and 2, 1993. This event brought together persons with different experiences, representing a wide range of government agencies and private foundations, scientific and educational associations, and colleges and universities from across the country to develop a vision of a research-rich undergraduate environment.

Our purpose for coming together was threefold:

  1. to clarify the dimensions of a research rich environment
  2. to understand the economic and cultural issues that must be addressed in developing such an environment
  3. to explore how such an environment can be adapted to different academic settings.

Our goal was to produce a draft set of recommendations to stimulate further dialogue and activities.

At the closing section of the Colloquium, Dr. Luther S. Williams (Assistant Director- Directorate for Education and Human Resources, National Science Foundation) and Dr. James L. Powell (National Science Board Member) spoke about the national context in which our work should proceed. They reminded us of the difficulty and urgency of our task, and of the value to be gained from open and wide-ranging discussion of the issues.

Included in these pages are some questions which served as a catalyst for the February Colloquium discussions, and some of the points raised during our intense twenty-four hours together. Excerpts from What Works: Building Natural Science Communities provide further context for this dialogue.

Jeanne L. Narum, Director
Project Kaleidoscope