Tuesday, September 4, 2012

University Outreach: Higher Education Supporting Basic Education

Teachers in both elementary and high schools barely have the time to innovate and explore. Teachers at these levels, however, especially the experienced ones, know a lot regarding classroom management. On the other hand, faculty in universities as well as graduate students are generally quicker in finding resources for learning in primary and secondary schools. Graduate students and faculty in the sciences are likewise expected to be more enthusiastic regarding their fields of study. Although scientists in universities are expected to have a greater and deeper mastery of their subjects, they are not expected to be as aware as the  teachers in basic education are of the basic education curriculum. Thus, a complementary relationship holds between higher education professors and basic education teachers. However, university outreach, even in the United States, where there are plentiful graduate programs in the sciences, still requires institutional support. Although it is obvious that higher education needs to support basic education, outreach activities supporting basic education need to be incorporated in tenure and promotion decisions in universities for these to become rewarding and not punishing especially to starting faculty members. In the United States, the National Science Foundation has been emphasizing for some time now broad impact in its funding decisions. This has led to a significant increase in outreach activities of scientists. Barbara M. Moskal and Catherine K. Skokan of the Colorado School of Mines have recently described an example of an outreach activity that is based on recommendations of experts in basic education. In this example, though the university brings its expertise into the classrooms, the respect and recognition towards elementary and high school teachers is evident. Providing 15 hours a week of direct classroom support throughout the academic year is not a token effort. The abstract of the paper is as follows:
The entire paper is available online at http://openjournals.libs.uga.edu/index.php/jheoe/article/view/506

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