Separating Facts from Fads: How K-12 Educators’ Choices Impact Students' College Performance and Persistence in STEM

Philip Sadler, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Twenty thousand college students’ histories taking critical college “gatekeeper” courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus have been mined, putting to the test K–12 educators' beliefs about the kinds of preparatory experiences and key resources that impact both college grades and students’ career choices. In this session, the presenter will share findings on the value of lab experience, graphing calculators, computerized labs and simulations, demonstrations, content coverage, Advanced Placement courses, project work, teacher professional development, and mathematics preparation.

About the Presenter:
Philip Sadler, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Science Education Department, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Philip Sadler’s varied background spans authoring mathematics and science textbooks; teaching middle school science, engineering, and mathematics; and offering science and education courses to Harvard’s undergraduate and graduate students. As director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics’ Science Education Department, his research program includes assessment of students’ scientific misconceptions and how they change with instruction, computer technologies that allow students to engage in research, curriculum development, the transition to college of students pursuing STEM careers, and enhancement of the skills of teachers. Sadler won the Journal of Research in Science Teaching Award for work on assessing student understanding in science, given yearly for “the most significant contribution to science education research.” He won the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Brennan Prize for contributions to astronomy teaching in 2002 and has been awarded the Computers in Physics Prize by the American Institute of Physics three times. Sadler was awarded the 2010 American Astronomical Society Education Prize. In 2012, he won the Millikan Medal of the American Association of Physics Teachers for his “notable and intellectually creative contributions to the teaching of physics.” He is the originator of the MicroObservatory network of robotic telescopes, with which nearly a million pictures have been taken by pre-college students for their projects. He is the executive producer of A Private Universe. He is the inventor of the Starlab Portable Planetarium and many other devices used for the teaching of science worldwide. Materials and curricula developed by Sadler are used by an estimated 15 million students every year. Sadler received his BS in Physics from MIT and earned his EdD from Harvard University.