High School Science Courses: Rows (broad) or Columns (deep)?

April 21 2009

If you're like me, your intuition probably tells you that overview science courses for high school students (covering a broad range of science topics) better prepare them for success in college science than courses focusing on fewer topics but in greater depth.

It made sense to me that if you introduce 15 scientific topics, there is a greater chance that at least one of the topics will hit a resonant chord in each student than delving into 3 or 4 topics on a deeper level. That's my "spreadsheet theory" of ROW topic coverage winning out over COLUMN.

Researcher Robert Tai begs to differ, however, and offers compelling proof through his study of 8,310 high school students and their grades in college science.

So, the "renaissance man" (or "renaissance woman") approach to science education apparently does not produce the scientific enlightenment one would hope. I guess the old adage of "Jack of all trades, master of none" holds particularly true when it comes to science education.

If you're a science educator, you need to read this article.

Category: Need to Know
Filed under: K-12 (education)