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We Were Never Taught to Teach: Knowing Better, Doing Better

Tuesday, April 24, 2018
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Talk by Shirley Malcom, Caltech Trustee

Introductory Remarks by President Thomas F. Rosenbaum
Reception: 3:30-4:00 PM


As students, many people who have become successful research university faculty in science, engineering, and mathematics experienced a limited range of teaching methods, and the vast majority were never formally taught how to teach. Now, though, we know a tremendous amount about how students learn, and have access to a much wider range of well tested techniques. Now that we know better, we will explore how to actually do better—how to take Caltech learners' experiences into account, how to best engage their curiosity and potential, and how to bring the nature and culture of doing science into courses and labs.


Dr. Shirley M. Malcom is director of education and human resources programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), where she oversees programs in education, activities for underrepresented groups, and public understanding of science and technology. Nationally recognized for her leadership on issues facing underrepresented minorities and women in the sciences and engineering, she has published numerous research articles and monographs on diversity challenges in scientific and engineering fields, including the 2016 National Academies book, Barriers and Opportunities for 2-Year and 4-Year STEM Degrees: Systemic Change to Support Students' Diverse Pathways, which offers key perspectives on the current culture of undergraduate education in the sciences, and the landmark 1976 report, The Double Bind: The Price of Being a Minority Woman in Science.

Malcom received a bachelor's degree with distinction in zoology from the University of Washington, a master's degree in zoology from UCLA, and a doctorate in ecology from Pennsylvania State University. She served on the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation from 1994 to 1998 and was a member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology from 1994 to 2001. Malcom also served as assistant professor of biology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, as a high school science teacher.

Dr. Malcom is a trustee of Caltech, an honorary trustee of the American Museum of Natural History, and a regent of Morgan State University. She also serves on several boards, including the Howard Heinz Endowment, and is currently co-chair of the Gender Advisory Board of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development. She has chaired multiple national committees addressing education reform and access to scientific and technical education, careers and literacy. Dr. Malcom is a fellow of the AAAS and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a former trustee of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and holds 17 honorary degrees. In 2003, she received the Public Welfare Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, the highest award bestowed by the Academy.

PART OF TeachWeek Caltech, a campus-wide celebration of teaching and learning, featuring events and discussions with Caltech faculty and students, as well as distinguished guest presenters. All events are open to the entire Caltech community.

Thanks to the Twenty-Seven Foundation for supporting this TeachWeek panel discussion, as well as sponsoring other events engaging Caltech faculty and students in new perspectives on teaching and learning.

For more information, please email [email protected].