The National Experiment in Undergraduate Science Education (NEXUS) is part of an increasingly active national conversation about how best to teach undergraduate science. With its focus on improvements to the pre-medical curriculum, the NEXUS project is guided by recent recommendations outlined in the 2009 report Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians, and responds to upcoming revisions in the MCAT.
The project brings together four universities with an ambitious goal: create and share effective models for teaching interdisciplinary science. Working together, the universities will create new courses, course modules and ways of assessing how well they work, as part of a four-year, $1.8 million commitment from HHMI.
Each institution will work on creating a different aspect of a new curriculum:
Integrating biology into chemistry
|The University of Maryland, Baltimore County:
Infusing math into biology
|The University of Maryland, College Park: Teaching the physics of life
|The University of Miami: Using case studies to integrate scientific disciplines
The schools will connect biology with physics, math, and chemistry using interdisciplinary modules that can be dropped into an existing course or integrated into the redesign of an entire curriculum.
By using competencies to measure student success, NEXUS aims to move beyond testing students’ knowledge of facts to assessing their ability to use information, such as analyzing a problem and creatively arriving at a solution.
NEXUS’ biggest challenge may be finding out what students are learning. The four schools, working with an evaluation specialist, will design a common assessment strategy and work to develop new tools to measure competency.
NEXUS is an active participant in the conversation about how to improve science education. To help, HHMI has appointed an interdisciplinary advisory board of leaders in education reform. Tell us what you think about NEXUS.