Tag Archives: behavioral and social sciences

Perspectives on Higher Education for the New Academic Year

21st century careers require highly skilled workers with strong technical knowledge as well as the ability to solve problems, think creatively, work collaboratively and function as lifelong learners. Recent National Academies studies dive into some of today’s most urgent higher education issues. We asked the Study Directors of each of the publications featured below to highlight actionable recommendations for universities and other stakeholders.

 

“The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded nationally in computer and information science and support services has surged in recent years, increasing by 74 percent between 2009 and 2015, compared to a 16 percent increase in bachelor’s degrees overall. At the same time, interest in computer science courses among majors and non-majors alike has also grown, reflecting the increasing importance of CS skills across disciplines and occupational fields, and in daily life. This report explores the drivers of and potential strategies for responding to this increased demand, noting that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Academic institutions should respond with urgency to the current demand while planning for the future role of CS institution-wide, taking deliberate actions to support diversity in their programs.” — Emily Grumbling, Study Officer

Assessing and Responding to the Growth of Computer Science Undergraduate Enrollments

The field of computer science (CS) is currently experiencing a surge in undergraduate degree production and course enrollments, which is straining program resources at many institutions and causing concern among faculty and administrators about how best to respond to the rapidly growing demand. …

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“The U.S. system of graduate education for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has long served as an international gold standard by preparing researchers to advance the frontiers of discovery. Given major global challenges such as the rapid innovations in the conduct of research, the role of STEM in the workforce and the economy, and the increasingly diverse backgrounds of students seeking advances degrees, how prepared is the system of graduate education to respond to these changes? The report Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century calls for cultural change in academic research, which requires adjusting the incentive systems driven in large part by federal and state funding agencies. The incentives often lack alignment with the ideal, student-centric vision of graduate education called for by the committee, which includes support for diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environments; a system that provides training for mentors and advisors; time and resources for broad career exploration; and increased mental health services. The committee addressed these critical issues, as well as drawing attention to the need for increased data collection in and research on graduate STEM education programs, and provided a series of recommendations to ensure that all stakeholders in the system understand their role in driving change.” — Layne Scherer, Study Officer

Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century

The U.S. system of graduate education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has served the nation and its science and engineering enterprise extremely well. Over the course of their education, graduate students become involved in advancing the frontiers of discovery, as …

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“The ‘Branches from the Same Tree’ study explored the impact on students of educational approaches that integrate the humanities and arts with science, engineering, and medicine in higher education. The title of the study is based on a quote from Albert Einstein in which he describes the unity of human knowledge, stating ‘all religions, arts, and sciences are branches from the same tree.’ The study committee found that integrative educational approaches are associated with positive student learning outcomes, including increased critical thinking abilities, higher-order thinking and deeper learning, content mastery, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills, improved visuospatial reasoning, and general engagement and enjoyment of learning. The committee found an incredible groundswell of enthusiasm for integrative educational approaches and catalogued over 200 interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary programs and courses at a diverse array of colleges and universities.” — Ashley Bear, Study Officer

The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree

In the United States, broad study in an array of different disciplines —arts, humanities, science, mathematics, engineering— as well as an in-depth study within a special area of interest, have been defining characteristics of a higher education. But over time, in-depth study in a major …

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“There is a growing concern that the biomedical research enterprise, for all of its many strengths, is beset by several core challenges that undercut its vitality, promise, and productivity and that could diminish its critical role in the nation’s health and innovation in the biomedical industry. This is not a new problem – in fact, reports addressing vulnerabilities in the biomedical research workforce have been issued over the last two decades. The committee for the Next Generation Researchers Initiative investigated conclusions from these earlier reports and identified several impediments to progress over the years. A key impediment has been an absence of shared responsibility for the biomedical research system. Many stakeholders in the system tend to hold the federal government responsible for this system, placing blame for failures at the feet of NIH, the principal funder of biomedical research. Doing so, however, obscures the important role that other organizations, particularly universities, must play in developing and implementing solutions. The committee therefore offered several recommendations specifically for universities, as well as a mechanism for shared oversight of the system.” — Lida Beninson, Study Officer

The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through

Since the end of the Second World War, the United States has developed the world’s preeminent system for biomedical research, one that has given rise to revolutionary medical advances as well as a dynamic and innovative business sector generating high-quality jobs and powering economic output …

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“More than 50% of female faculty and staff in higher education and between 20-50% of female students have experienced sexual harassment. Even when the sexual harassment consists of sexist insults or crude behavior, without any unwanted sexual attention or sexual coercion, it can undermine women’s professional and educational attainment and mental and physical health. To stop the pattern of harassing behavior from impacting the next generation of women, a change to the culture and climate in colleges and universities is needed. This report reviews the research on sexual harassment in academia and details how system-wide changes in higher education can be implemented to prevent and address sexual harassment in education and research settings.” — Frazier Benya, Study Officer

Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Over the last few decades, research, activity, and funding has been devoted to improving the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine. In recent years the diversity of those participating in these fields, particularly the participation …

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Intelligence Analysis in the 21st Century: Contributions from the Behavioral and Social Sciences

In countries half a world away, major changes are happening that will challenge our nation to define or redefine our policies. Keeping pace with a fast-changing world where events can require a rapid, knowledgeable response requires excellent intelligence analysis for decision-making. The U.S. intelligence community (IC) is a complex human enterprise whose success depends on how well the people in it perform their work. Although often aided by sophisticated technologies, these people ultimately rely on their own intellect to identify, synthesize, and communicate the information on which the nation’s security depends. Their role is the pivotal middle point between gathering information and policy making. The IC’s success depends on having trained, motivated, and thoughtful people working within organizations able to understand, value, and coordinate their capabilities. Intelligence analysts serve our nation well in a challenging field. The behavioral and social sciences can make significant contributions to support these people, thus improving their already good work in a demanding area.

For a century or more, the behavioral and social sciences have studied how individuals and groups perform fundamental intellectual processes. That research has found that people perform some of these tasks much better than others. In some cases, the research has demonstrated ways to overcome weaknesses (e.g., through training or structuring analytical processes); in other cases, the research has identified problems that reflect limits to analysis that are important for decision makers to understand as aspects of the uncertainties that they face. Intelligence Analysis for Tomorrow: Advances from the Behavioral and Social Sciences recommends that the U.S. intelligence community adopt methods, theories, and findings from the behavioral and social sciences as a way to improve its analyses.

A companion book, Intelligence Analysis: Behavioral and Social Scientific Foundations, is a collection of individually authored papers, which presents the more detailed evidentiary base for the authoring committee’s conclusions and recommendations. The papers in this collection represent the individual work of committee members summarizing research on topics central to the IC’s mission.

Tom Fingar, a member of the committee and former Deputy Director of the Office of Director of National Intelligence, gave his perspective on this topic and these reports.

“More money, more collection, and more analysts will not enable the IC to satisfy 21st century requirements for intelligence support. Throwing money at the problem, even if that were affordable, and telling analysts to “work harder” cannot provide the insights and accuracy needed to reduce uncertainty about developments affecting US interests. We must “work smarter” by applying insights and scientific findings from the behavioral and social sciences. The lessons and recommendations summarized in these studies are timely, address both universal and unique aspects of intelligence analysis, and will be invaluable to IC analysts and managers alike.”

These titles and others from the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education show the contributions that the social and behavioral sciences can make to evaluations and improvement of our national security processes.

Intelligence Analysis for Tomorrow Intelligence Analysis for Tomorrow: Advances from the Behavioral and Social Sciences

The intelligence community (IC) plays an essential role in the national security of the United States. Decision makers rely on IC analyses and predictions to reduce uncertainty and to provide warnings about everything from international diplomatic relations…
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Intelligence Analysis Intelligence Analysis: Behavioral and Social Scientific Foundations

The U.S. intelligence community (IC) is a complex human enterprise whose success depends on how well the people in it perform their work. Although often aided by sophisticated technologies, these people ultimately rely on their own intellect to identify,..
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Field Evaluation in the Intelligence and Counterintelligence Context Field Evaluation in the Intelligence and Counterintelligence Context: Workshop Summary

On September 22-23, 2009, the National Research Council held a workshop on the field evaluation of behavioral and cognitive sciences–based methods and tools for use in the areas of intelligence and counterintelligence. Broadly speaking, the purpose of the…
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Behavioral Modeling and Simulation Behavioral Modeling and Simulation: From Individuals to Societies

Today’s military missions have shifted away from fighting nation states using conventional weapons toward combating insurgents and terrorist networks in a battlespace in which the attitudes and behaviors of civilian noncombatants may be the primary effects…
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Human Behavior in Military Contexts Human Behavior in Military Contexts

Human behavior forms the nucleus of military effectiveness. Humans operating in the complex military system must possess the knowledge, skills, abilities, aptitudes, and temperament to perform their roles effectively in a reliable and predictable manner, and…
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