Author Profile

Science Education Resource Center (SERC)

Engaging teaching activities. Effective pedagogy. Transformative workshops.

Director: Cathryn A. Manduca (
Carleton College
Established: 2002

Vision and Goals

The Science Education Resource Center (SERC) aims to help undergraduate faculty be better teachers; promote learning about the Earth; engage in research that illuminates geoscience teaching, learning and faculty professional development; be leaders in the use of the web and evaluation in education; be a strong partner to Carleton College; and develop and support an on-going geoscience education community.

Center/Program Structure

SERC is an office of Carleton College. The office is led by the Director, Dr. Cathryn Manduca, who reports to the Dean of the College. SERC's fourteen staff include administrative, evaluation, technical, and project support professionals. Sean Fox is the Technical Director. Ellen Iverson is the Evaluation Director. All funding for the office is provided by grants and contracts. These are currently dominated by grants from the National Science Foundation either to Carleton, or to other institutions that sub-contract for SERC services. SERC engages in four major professional development activities:

Description of Programming

SERC works to improve education through projects that support educators. Although our work has a particular emphasis on undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, we work with educators across a broad range of disciplines and at all educational levels. The office has special expertise in effective pedagogies, geoscience education, community organization, workshop leadership, digital libraries, website development, and program and website evaluation.

SERC's services to the education community lie in four primary areas:

Successes and Impacts

SERC has been a major contributor to a culture among faculty teaching undergraduate geoscience education that supports learning from one another and sharing resources. The SERC Teach the Earth Portal which aggregates resources across all of our Geoscience collaborations contains more than 4000 teaching activities developed and contributed by faculty. Through the On the Cutting Edge project this community is successfully reviewing these activities to make the best resources more easily identifiable and to recognize the contributions of their creators. Multiple professional development workshop programs in the geosciences make use of the model pioneered by On the Cutting Edge for engaging faculty in learning from one another and sharing resource through workshop websites.

SERC now hosts one of the largest on-line collections of resources on teaching methods. Aimed primarily at undergraduate STEM faculty, these resources were visited by more than 4 million users last year demonstrating their value well beyond geosciences or higher education. Evaluation studies show that the website increases instructors knowledge of and confidence in using pedagogies that actively engage their students in learning. The fact that these resources are authored by faculty, for faculty, is a major contributor to their impact. The SERC website and its content management system allow faculty-authored resources to be aggregated and organized into searchable collections both within and across disciplines. By making these tools widely available, SERC has developed a model to that sustains its work while providing needed dissemination of materials and practices developed across the disciplines.

Elements Contributing to Success

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