The National Science Foundation has awarded a $1.8 million grant to the College Board to help the nonprofit organization with a redesign of the course description and exams for Advanced Placement classes in biology, chemistry, environmental science, and physics.
The changes are aimed at emphasizing depth of understanding in content, as opposed to simply covering specific topics, officials at the New York City-based College Board said in a statement.
The changes will promote a “less is more” principle in scientific study, emphasizing interdisciplinary understanding of topics, along with “inquiry,” generally defined as the process of asking students to learn through investigation and to use reason to evaluate scientific evidence.
Officials of the College Board, whose AP program enables high school students to earn academic credit at some colleges, say the overhaul is based on recent research into how students learn science. The long-term goal is to encourage more students, including underrepresented minorities, to pursue science in college and future careers.
The redesign will be conducted by separate committees covering each scientific topic. It is expected to be complete by the summer of 2007, according to the College Board. The NSF, an independent federal agency located in Arlington, Va., supports research in science and engineering, including projects in K-12 education.
A version of this article appeared in the May 10, 2006 edition of Education Week