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About VaNTH


The VaNTH Engineering Research Center for Bioengineering Educational Technologies aims to integrate learning science, learning technologies, and the domains of bioengineering in order to develop effective educational resources to prepare for the future of bioengineering.

The center teams the bioengineering and learning sciences faculties of Vanderbilt University, Northwestern University, the University of Texas at Austin and the Health Sciences and Technology Division of Harvard and MIT to develop a better understanding of bioengineering students as learners and the methods that help them learn. This understanding will lead to development of teaching materials in bioengineering that will be learner centered, knowledge centered, and assessment centered.

The developed materials will ultimately be disseminated to undergraduate and graduate programs in bioengineering, to middle and high schools, and to the industrial and practitioner communities through continuing education programs.

Research Areas

Intersection of learning science, learning technologies, and the domains of bioengineering
Determination of range of knowledge encompassed by bioengineering
Structure of knowledge in major bioengineering domains
Principles of modular design for teaching materials
Development of assessment methods to determine the effectiveness of new learning materials


Undergraduate and graduate training and research in learning science and technology
Undergraduate and graduate training and research in development of domain projects
Summer "Research Experiences for Undergraduates" program


Industrial and practitioner partners participate in research, instructional module development, governance, and advisory boards
Industrial and practitioner partners receive access to university facilities, continuing education courses, and student internships


The VaNTH ERC accomplished an ambitious and comprehensive agenda in its first year. The National Science Foundation Center, the first in the nation dedicated to bioengineering education, has developed a strategic plan aimed at bringing a new system of bioengineering education into being. Our strategy is based on recent work in the learning sciences, which has been summarized by a report entitled "How People Learn" (HPL) from the National Academy of Sciences. During its first year, the VaNTH ERC has brought learning scientists, learning technology specialists and bioengineering domain experts together to formulate and perform new research on how bioengineers learn, how technology can support the HPL framework and how knowledge in bioengineering is structured. We are implementing our strategic plan by concentrating our activities in four specific thrusts: Bioengineering Domains, Learning Science, Learning Technology and Assessment.

Bioengineering Domain Thrust-The four participating institutions are developing an organized knowledge base for bioengineering, focusing currently on biomechanics, systems physiology, optics, and biotechnology. From this knowledge base the team will determine the facts, theories, methods, skills, and reasoning that should constitute a bioengineering curriculum and will ultimately produce and disseminate teaching materials that motivate and stimulate students to become more adaptive learners.

Learning Sciences Thrust-The center is adapting recent research into the learning sciences to design the next generation of bioengineering curriculum materials, learning technology, and professional development strategies.

Learning Technology Thrust-The center is developing and extending learning technology tools for bioengineering and has established an information system for the four academic partners in the ERC.

Assessment-The center assesses and evaluates all its activities through a system that supports continuous improvement.

MIT/Harvard Chapter Officers

President--Ragu Vijaykumar

Vice President--Jonathon King

Secretary--Johanna Gaiottino

Webmaster--Aadel Chaudhuri




Copyright 2003 VaNTH ERC