It turns out that you can study how people learn and develop better ways of teaching. This is what is known as "research." Surprising, the professors at "research universities" don't like it one bit.
“What drives advancement at universities is publishing research and winning grants,” said Marc T. Facciotti, an associate professor who will teach a revamped biology course here in the winter quarter. “Teaching isn’t a very high priority.”
In fact, there is no shortage of interested students, but failure rates in the beginning classes are high. At four-year colleges, 28 percent of students set out as math, engineering and science majors, but only 16 percent of bachelor’s degrees are awarded in those fields. The attrition rate is highest among women and blacks. “A lot of science faculty have seen themselves as gatekeepers,” said Marco Molinaro, an assistant vice provost here at Davis and director of its effort to overhaul science courses.
Thankfully, there are some who can be trained:
“Unlike the profs, we could tell the T.A.s what to do,” said Christopher Pagliarulo, an associate director of Dr. Molinaro’s team.