The centre's aims and vision
The Centre for Computing in Science Education (CCSE) aims to become an international hub for the research-based integration of computational methods in science educations.
The centre will:
- Develop material, approaches and study programs for CSE teaching and learning
- Initiate, support and disseminate research into effective learning and assessment methods
- Implement practices in educations across disciplines in collaboration with key partners
Computing has changed the practice of science
The growth in computer power has radically changed the practice of physics and other sciences - and is expected to affect all aspects of society. Problem solving using computers – computing – is now an integrated and central part of research, development, business and industry. To prepare students for a lifelong career, computing must therefore be an integrated part of science educations. Surprisingly, most education programs have not been updated to integrate computing.
Integration of computing will change science education
In physics nature is described using mathematics, and examples and exercises rely on solving mathematical problems. Therefore, physics and mathematics are taught in a coordinated and sequential manner. With only traditional mathematics at our disposal, only a few carefully selected, simplified physics problems for which we know the mathematical solutions can be solved. These limitations have shaped the contents and form of the education and teaching practices, and have contributed to the view that physics has little or no relevance in the real world.
Now, the growth in computing power has provided us with robust mathematical methods that allow us to solve practically any physics problem. Thus, we are no longer limited by traditional mathematics. Students can learn robust, powerful and adaptable solution methods - computing methods - in which they write computer programs to solve problems using workflows similar to that of research or industry.
Contents and approaches can be chosen for pedagogical or motivational reasons instead of mathematical limitations. Examples can be based on real data, and realistic and research-inspired problems can be introduced from day one. This calls for a redesign of the contents and form of the education to integrate the use of computing - opening new pedagogical challenges and opportunities.
Computing in Science Education at UiO
We have initiated a project to integrate Computing in Science Education (CSE) in a systematic and unified manner across different subjects. The goal is for students to learn computational tools as part of their introduction to mathematics and then reapply and adapt the approaches in physics and other sciences. We have coordinated courses in mathematics, numerical methods, and programming in the first semester to form a basis in skills and methods.
Full integration of computing has been achieved in some physics courses, with changes in curriculum, learning materials, teaching approaches and assessment methods. However, most courses in mathematics and physics have only partial or no integration of computing, and in other programs, such as in life sciences, computations are absent.
Establishing a world-leading centre
Our ambition is to transform the CSE project into a world-leading Centre for Computing in Science Education (CCSE). The centre will unleash the potential of CSE by implementing it fully in physics and by extending the approach to other disciplines and institutions - opening for interactive, creative, and collaborative learning approaches and providing students with essential skills.
Since the research evidence for CSE methods is sparse, we need to build a CSE educational research activity to provide a research basis. Effective dissemination requires professional educational material. Integration in other disciplines with students with weak backgrounds in mathematics demands novel approaches through cross-disciplinary collaborations.
This requires a coordinated and substantial development and research effort that can only be achieved through a centre for excellence. The centre will:
- develop research-based educational material and approaches in physics and other disciplines
- build a CSE educational research activity
- nurture a culture for cross-disciplinary teaching and learning in partnership with students
- adapt and extend CSE to schools, colleges and universities, nationally and internationally
The centre will use CSE to transform practices and immerse undergraduate students in complex problems that motivate, foster creativity and prepare them for a lifelong career.
The vision of the centre is to develop a research-based foundation for the integration of computing into basic education and to become an international hub for this activity. The centre will lead research-based development of new learning materials, methods and practices, study their effects and how they transform student learning and teaching culture, involve students deeply in the development of new practices and methods, and disseminate and adapt the practices and results across disciplines in collaboration with key partners.