Every year, tens of thousands of non-science major undergraduate students enroll in introductory science courses. For many of these students, these courses represent the last formal science education experience they will ever have. Even though students may patiently listen to lectures, copy detailed notes, observe demonstrations, carry out the necessary experimental exercises, perform the required calculations with formulae, and reach predetermined conclusions, they all
too often emerge from their general education, elective science courses without becoming intellectually engaged at a level sufficient to obtain a fundamental understanding of the phenomena under investigation (McDermott & Redish 1999). If we want our students to develop an interest in science and to emerge with a fundamental understanding of science concepts, it is necessary to treat the teaching and learning of science as a complex and interconnected process rather than a one-way transfer between the curriculum and the student. In particular, we must work to create more effective instructional environments that take into account student needs including their pre-instruction conceptual and reasoning difficulties.