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In an effort to disentangle the many variables that account for failure and/or unwillingness of large numbers of college students to pursue mathematics and science, Sheila Tobias has engaged otherwise successful outsiders in a series of experiments across disciplinary boundaries. Her findings -- that barriers to learning are the result of "disciplinary cultures" -- puts students' "failure to thrive" in mathematics and science in an entirely new and different light. Her talk includes notes taken by faculty and graduate students from fields other than physical science as they encounter topics and entire courses in introductory chemistry and physics; also a report on how science and engineering faculty respond to the challenges of studying literature in the humanistic tradition - a single experiment conducted in 1989 at Cornell University.
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