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Open Access Publications from the University of California

This is a section of Leaders in Effective and Inclusive STEM: Twenty Years of the Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators, edited by Scott Seagroves, Austin Barnes, Anne J. Metevier, Jason Porter, & Lisa Hunter. See the introduction for a more complete discussion and outline.

Articles with international perspectives:

Two members of the ISEE PDP community provide an international perspective on STEM and education in this section. 

  • In his contribution, Sebastiano Cantalupo describes graduate-level astrophysics courses with an emphasis on scientific practices that he designed and taught at universities in Switzerland and Italy; he compares the emphasis on practice to classical approaches to teaching and learning.
  • The next essay from Barry Cense discusses his experiences using inquiry teaching and learning techniques in different cultural contexts.
Cover page of Rediscovering Practice and Inquiry in Academic Education: Experiences in a European University Environment

Rediscovering Practice and Inquiry in Academic Education: Experiences in a European University Environment


I describe the design and implementation of a series of university MSc courses in Switzerland and in Italy on the topic of “Cosmic Structure Formation” whose goal has been to provide to the stu-dents a formative experience using interwoven research practice and fundamental scientific con-tent. The course educational framework, which is based on the ISEE Inquiry Framework, empha-sizes science, as much in teaching as in research, as a set of practices, re-discovering and actualiz-ing in modern terms the original pivotal role which these practices had in education in ancient times. In particular, the courses focus on formative, intuitive, student-centered and dialogic learn-ing in opposition to the informative, mnemonic, teacher-centered and monologic teaching of frontal lecture-based instruction, which is still the dominant teaching framework in university edu-cation, at least in Europe. I describe how course activities are designed in such a way as to mirror authentic research, including all aspects which are usually not practiced in lecture-based courses and “standard” laboratories (e.g., generating and refining questions; making and testing assump-tions; developing one’s own research path; and sharing, explaining and justifying ideas and results with peers). Finally, I discuss the major outcomes of the courses and the main challenges which were faced in order to provide to the students a truly transformative experience which could allow them to improve both as learners and future scientific researchers, as well as members of a larger community.

Cover page of Aspects of Inquiry Applied in Japan and Australia

Aspects of Inquiry Applied in Japan and Australia


The author reflects on his experience as a participant in the Professional Development Program (PDP) in 2005 and 2006 and how he has implemented elements of inquiry learning in his curricu-lum. He taught courses in Japan and Australia and touches on his perception of how the students in his units learned, and what the effects of (learning) culture are on inquiry learning. Through his experiences, the author found that in the first stages of a learning process, inquiry learning can help to engage and motivate students. In the end stage of learning, inquiry learning can help stu-dents to demonstrate their ability to think and work independently. One should carefully consider the learning background of students before implementing aspects of inquiry learning, as it can be affected by the culture in which they grew up.