Combining Research & Instruction: Instructive Subject for Research

Matt Kloser, director of the Notre Dame Center for STEM Education within the Institute for Educational Initiatives, received kudos recently when the online Stanford Teaching Commons posted a story about the integration of research and teaching.   The story cited his role in research that found real value in such integration.

Kloser, who was a doctoral candidate in Science Education at Stanford at the time, teamed with another doctoral candidate and two faculty members to study how an effort to integrate “inquiry-based instruction” into a professor’s course might stimulate student learning. Kloser, now serving Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education as a faculty fellow in the Institute, leads research and collaborations to increase interest among K-12 students in the STEM disciplines.

The Stanford story looks back several years to the research project built around Prof. Tadashi Fukami’s biology laboratory class.  He involved one group of his students in field work to gather data about microbial pollination, his own field of research. The rest of his students followed a more conventional syllabus for the course. Kloser and doctoral candidate Sara Brownell, under the guidance of Rich Shavelson, Professor Emeritus in Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, assessed the outcomes for the students who had become more engaged in the professor’s inquiries, compared with outcomes for the control group.

As the story reveals, Kloser and Brownell provided insights that led Fukami later to include his whole class in the higher level of research engagement. Kloser’s study found that “students in the research-based lab had a more positive attitude toward authentic research, higher self-confidence in lab-related tasks, and increased interest in pursuing future research” compared with students in the more conventional lab course.


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