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Undergraduate Education Subcommittee for Natural Sciences Strategic Planning at Rice University

Mission Statement

To prepare all Rice students to be leaders of the next century, by providing an education that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and the application of scientific reasoning to individual and societal decisions.

To prepare our majors for graduate studies and professional careers by challenging them with the important problems in science and technology and providing them with tools with which to address them.

THANKS to all those who participated in the workshop related to Undergraduate Education on Saturday, January 25. A summary of the comments and suggestions that emerged from this workshop is available.

Topics and Issues

  1. Enhancement of Student Interest in Natural Sciences
    How can we retain/generate interest in the sciences, both for majors and non-majors? Would a freshman or sophomore "Introduction to Natural Sciences" seminar, either as a semester-long course or as an O-week presentation, enhance interest in science? How can we improve academic advising and tutoring programs? How can we attract and retain minorities and underprepared students? Would core groups for study and socializing improve interaction and learning?

  2. Improvement of Introduction to the Natural Sciences
    How can we improve the "Big Three" introductory courses? How might we address problems with class size, diversity of preparation, communication problems, level of material, and sequencing? How can we prepare our infrastructure to meet the challenges of anticipated growth of the student body, aging of facilities, curricular changes, and increased interest in science and technology? How can we best communicate the scientific perspective and basic tools to students from other disciplines? What courses should be offered in science for non-majors?

  3. Degree Structure and Undergraduate Research
    Should we offer a B.S. degree option in the various departments of the Natural Sciences? Should undergraduate research be a requirement of that degree? How can we enhance and encourage undergraduate participation in research? Should all majors in Natural Sciences do some research?

  4. Improvement of Instruction in Natural Sciences
    What developments would improve instruction? Classroom/laboratory improvements? Lectureships for young faculty? Increased use of graduate students as TAs? A course in scientific thinking/analysis? Use of technology (e.g., using Rice cable TV channel to broadcast lectures, seminars, etc.)? A different schedule for meeting and/or testing (e.g., MWF one week, TT next week)? Should the faculty in Natural Sciences work with other divisions to integrate science instruction with other disciplines for the benefit of both majors and non-majors in other divisions?

Members of the Undergraduate Education Subcommittee

Other Subcommittees

Steering Committee for Natural Sciences Strategic Planning

Updated by Rachel Miller (rmiller@rice.edu)