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TIDES: Transforming Science Education

TIDES: Transforming Science Education

b2ap3_thumbnail_UTeach.jpgThe College of Natural Sciences is launching a home for its current and future programs in innovative undergraduate science education, the Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Science (TIDES).  TIDES was proposed in the CNS 2013 Strategic Plan (as the Texas Center for Science Discovery) as a way to continue and enhance the college’s leading role in STEM education.

"The Institute will be a sandbox for science education," says Erin Dolan, who is the inaugural director of TIDES.  Dolan comes to CNS from the University of Georgia where she was an associate professor of biochemistry.  She is editor-in-chief of CBE: Life Sciences Education, a leading research describing new approaches and analysis of STEM education.  Her group studies science research as a context for teaching, learning, and mentoring.

The three areas of TIDES’ focus will be experiential learning, professional development, and education evaluation. Dean Linda Hicke and Director Dolan intend for TIDES to serve as a laboratory for science education initiatives that align with these three themes, with the aim of producing innovations similar in impact to the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI).  TIDES is currently located on the third floor of Painter Hall and will have a new physical home upon the renovation of the Bio Labs building that is part of the five-year CNS Master Space Plan.

"When we drafted the vision for TIDES in our strategic plan, we dreamed big," says Linda Hicke, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. "We said we would transform the learning experience for our students, but also give our teachers the tools to be their best. By formally establishing TIDES, we're one step closer to that reality."

TIDES will be an important platform for experiential learning beyond FRI, such as entrepreneurial or internship opportunities. Through professional development programming, TIDES will work with science faculty and scientists-in-training to carry out their visions for innovative and effective forms of experiential learning. Education evaluation will be an integral element of all TIDES activities.

"We have to look at the data so we can figure out what's working, what's not, and what we need to do next," says Dolan. "We need to know the causal mechanisms underlying our effective education programs so that we can share that with others and they can replicate what we're doing."

TIDES will draw inspiration from the latest research on how people learn and cutting-edge science happening across the college to catalyze the next generation of science education, not just here at The University of Texas at Austin, but across the state and the country.

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Saturday, 18 November 2017

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