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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Science Education
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Status Contributions and Future Directions of Discipline-Based Education Research





DBER Briefing Front Page

Report Brief



Discipline-Based Education Research: Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering, a new report from the National Research Council*, examines the emerging field of discipline-based education research (DBER) and how it could improve the teaching of undergraduate science and engineering.
DBER is a collection of related research fields that study how students learn the knowledge, concepts, and practices of a particular discipline. A DBER scholar in physics, for example, might investigate how students learn concepts such as force or acceleration and try to identify effective ways for instructors to teach these concepts. DBER has emerged in many scientific disciplines -- including physics, chemistry, biology, the geosciences, and astronomy -- as well as in engineering.
The new report examines the status and contributions of DBER in these fields, identifies directions for future research, and recommends greater use of DBER findings in undergraduate teaching practice.
*Supported by funding from the National Science Foundation


What’s next?

Based on the findings described in the report Discipline-Based Education Research, the National Research Council is developing a practitioners’ guide for higher education faculty and administrators.  The guide will describe teaching strategies for undergraduate science and engineering that research has shown to be effective. It will also offer many examples of what these approaches look like in practice.  This project is supported with funding from the National Science Foundation and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Natalie Nielsen, Study Director
Heidi Schweingruber, Deputy Director, BOSE
Margaret Hilton, Senior Program Officer, BOSE
Anthony Brown, Senior Program Assistant, BOSE

Project Background and Resources 



 Promising practices report cover



Background Papers




The study that produced the report Discipline-Based Education Research was built on two workshops held in 2008 to explore Promising Practices in Undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The study and workshops were sponsored by the National Science Foundation.










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