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Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) — Advancing what works in STEM education

20th Anniversary Essays

January 2011 marks the 20th Anniversary of Project Kaleidoscope, from its beginnings with a National Colloquium at the National Academy of Sciences and the presentation of PKAL’s seminal report: What Works: Building Natural Science Community. January 2011 also marks the one-year anniversary of PKAL’s partnership with AAC&U. This partnership was forged, in part, because of our shared belief that a liberal education (from PKAL’s 1991 report):

  • Encourages curiosity and intellectual adventure in an environment that espouses quality and integrity.
  • Aims to develop a sense of the whole, of the interconnections between fields of study and the world around us.
  • Opens students to both the unity and diversity of human knowledge and guards against the narrowness of outlook that arises from concentrating exclusively on one subject.
  • Promotes diversity, skepticism, and debate, and is dedicated to the intellectual and personal growth of its members.

A major thrust of discussions at the 1991 colloquium was on partnerships and collaborative efforts, including within the communities of practice that are national disciplinary and professional societies. The potential impact of these societies as agents of change was recognized, but there was little evidence that they were making a difference or making a significant contribution to the national need to rejuvenate and reconstruct the undergraduate learning environment in science and mathematics (the acronym of STEM was not on any one’s radar screen).

But even a cursory review of journals and reports from professional societies over the past decade provides compelling evidence of how these communities of practice have taken a leadership role in shaping the agenda, facilitating informed action, and building a sense of purpose grounded in a common vision. Thus we inaugurate celebrations of PKAL’s 20th Anniversary with essays from the community of disciplinary and professional societies. These essays will be posted throughout the spring, announced through regular notices via PKAL email alerts, Tweets and other electronic messaging.

No matter your discipline or your sphere of responsibility for undergraduate learning in STEM fields, these essays—in reviewing the past and anticipating the future—will inform and inspire.

April 22, 2011

American Psychological Association
From Partnership Projects to Blueprint Design: Enhancing Teaching and Learning in Psychology
By: Robin Hailstorks (American Psychological Association)

Council on Undergraduate Research
From Transforming the Curriculum to Tackling Global Grand Challenges – The Role of Undergraduate Research in the 21st Century
By: Diane Husic (Moravian College) and Nancy Hensel (Council on Undergraduate Research)

March 31, 2011

Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience
The Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience: Learning Lessons since 1991
By: Eric P. Wiertelak (Macalester College), Julio J. Ramirez (Davidson College), and Jennifer R. Yates (Ohio Wesleyan University)

February 28, 2011:

American Association of Physics Teachers
Undergraduate Physics 1990 - 2010: The Role of Disciplinary Societies
By: Robert C. Hilborn (University of Texas, Dallas) and Warren W. Hein (American Association of Physics Teachers)

American Chemical Society
Chemistry Education: Transforming the Human Elements

By: Jodi L. Wesemann (American Chemical Society) and Mary M. Kirchoff (American Chemical Society)

Mathematical Association of America
Challenges and Traditions: Undergraduate Mathematics, 1990-2010

By: Lynn Arthur Steen (St. Olaf College)