Broadening Access to Science: Retreats & Workshops


Most recent events are at the top.

Broadening Access to Science Retreat: Where are we headed and why? (July 26, 2006)


Retreat documents:
Assoc. Dean John Ramsay
Trish Ferrett
Susan Singer
This retreat grew directly from the visit and advice by our consultant, Mark Schneider (with the Grinnell Science Project, below). Trish Ferrett and John Ramsay facilitated this retreat in late July of 2006; Susan Singer helped with planning the retreat. Our goals were two-fold:
  • Build collective understanding & consensus on the "galaxy of issues" related to broadening access to science. Use this to revise/create programs.
  • Talk about how to listen to and learn from students. Do a conceptual design of student interviews that gather information on the experience of students of color in the sciences.
We also discussed the report by Anne-Barrie Hunter (University of Colorado, Boulder) on the group interview of the students in the 2005 Science Scholars Workshop. We plan to use this kind of interview method and qualitative research as a model for future methods of formative assessment.

This retreat will result in a clearer articulation of where faculty want to move next in bringing up new programs and gathering data relevant to broadening access to science and math at Carleton.

A Day with Prof. Mark Schneider from The Grinnell Science Project (May 11, 2006)


Mark Schneider, Grinnell College
Grinnell Science Project students working in lab
Mark Schneider (Physics, Grinnell College) was invited to interact broadly with Carleton faculty and staff on May 11, 2006 with two purposes in mind as we look to revising our own programs and creating new ones. First, Mark talked at a well-attended lunch event about the The Grinnell Science Project, their freshman pre-orientation program to science at Grinnell. Second, we asked that Mark consult with us on how to move forward effectively with new programs for broadening access to science. In order to get a sense for the range of perspectives at Carleton, Mark met with various people around campus: faculty from Biology, Physics/Astronomy, Chemistry, and Geology, Hudlin Wagner (Dean of Students), Mark Gleason and Chris Tassava from Corporate & Foundation Relations, and the assessment team for the Science Scholars Workshop. Mark also facilitated a small afternoon discussion with faculty and staff where the following questions were addressed:
  • What's the problem(s) at Carleton?
  • Which problems can we collectively move on- the ones which are highest priority and enjoy the strongest consensus?
  • What action plans can we now begin to make together?
  • Which problems are currently being addressed by the new Science Scholars Workshop?
  • What are the impediments to action?
The notes from this afternoon discussion were made available to participants in the Broadening Access retreat on July 26, 2006 (above). Mark also recommended that we:
  1. Learn more about the issues from students (focus group interviews) and data gathering projects
  2. View ourselves as being in a "problem definition stage" for this work
  3. Focus mostly on formative assessment methods to help us move beyond the "problem definition stage", including for the Science Scholars Workshop
If you would like more information about Mark's recommendations to Carleton or the notes from the afternoon discussion, please contact Trish Ferrett.

Transitions Group Retreat, Winter Break 2004


Current members of the Transitions Group

February 2005 Scientific American article on stereotype threat

Claude Steele article on stereotype threat, Atlantic Monthly (1999) (Acrobat (PDF) 2.8MB Aug2 06)


Assoc. Dean Liz Ciner
Debby Walser-Kuntz

This two-day retreat (9am-1pm on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2004) involved over a dozen science and math faculty from five departments and college staff from several offices.
Assoc. Dean Liz Ciner and Biology Professor Debby Walser-Kuntz planned and facilitated the retreat, with some support from Trish Ferrett (Chemistry, CISMI). Discussion centered on issues of student transitions into science and math learning at Carleton from their diverse high school experiences. We read an article by Claude Steele on stereotype threat in order to understand issues faced by students under-represented in the sciences and how to deal with some of them. We discussed the broad pedagogical aspects of dealing with a newly developing diverse community of students at Carleton. The group ended up with a focused priority on better supporting students under-represented in the sciences at Carleton.


Claude Steele, Stanford University
The group articulated a three-pronged approach to our collective work in this area, connecting the student to the:
  • community (learning in diverse groups, climate, stereotype threat, interactions with faculty)
  • cognitive (critical thinking, problem solving, math skills, transfer of knowledge)
  • metacognitive (intentional and engaged learning, learning styles, identity issues, and more).

Four working subgroups emerged from this retreat. One group began design of the Science Scholars Workshop, a new winter break program to support students from under-resourced high schools. A second Pathways Group is working on articulating, within and among the science and math departments, a variety of successful pathways for students into the first two years of Carleton's science and math curricula. A third group is focusing on faculty development events related to student learning in diverse groups and teams. The fourth group is planning for a new Science Learning Center for students at Carleton. This group eventually became the Science Resource Committee and linked to another set of needs in the sciences (community commons space; shared space for instrumentation, computation, modeling, and visualization).