|College Board Taps Two Science Profs to Help Redesign AP Courses
June 08, 2007
by Adam Martin '06
While scientific facts, such as the names of solar systems and genus-species, are eminently at students’ “Googletips,” Americans are slipping behind other nations in their ability to apply those scientific facts and skills in research and problem-solving activities, according to the College Board.
|(l-r) Campbell and Cain are helping redesign Advance Placement courses to be more relevant for today's high school students. |
This is one of the reasons why this not-for-profit agency, which administers Advanced Placement (AP) course testing and SAT testing for more than 23,000 high schools, is in the process of redesigning its AP curricula in the sciences.
As part of the broadly supported plan to improve science education in American high schools and universities, two Davidson professors are helping lead efforts to revamp the AP curriculum in their fields of physics and biology.
Larry Cain, professor and chair of the Physics Department, is co-chair of the AP Physics redesign committee. Composed of five high school teachers and seven college professors from across the country, Cain’s committee has proposed to split up the material currently covered in AP Physics B into two AP Physics courses, among other suggested changes.
Malcolm Campbell, professor of biology and James G. Martin Program Director of Genomics, is one of just six national college faculty members appointed to the committee for AP Biology. That group has trimmed the course material covered, and chosen new topics in biology, like genomics, to include in the course. Campbell, who wrote the first college textbook for genomics, hopes the updated curriculum will keep students excited about science.
The College Board, which is also redesigning three AP history courses, charged each redesign group to help AP classes give students a “deep conceptual understanding” of their subjects at the introductory college level and make the curriculum more relevant in their ever-evolving fields.
“The science classes are a mile wide and an inch deep,” said Campbell, referring to the amount of information currently covered. “Students are being forced to memorize and regurgitate organ systems and organelles, and are not focused on learning how to do science.” The College Board plans to implement newly designed science classes by fall 2009.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,700 students. Since its establishment in 1837 by Presbyterians, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked in the top ten libral arts college in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine.
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