Research on Learning: Projects in the Scholarship of Learning & Teaching
Prof. Trish Ferrett (Chemistry) taught a first-year seminar in fall 2005 (IDSC 100-01) on the integrative concept of abrupt change. On the science side, students studied what Thomas Kuhn calls "extraordinary science" by using historical climate data records and theories to investigate the emerging paradigm of abrupt change in global climate systems. This approach allowed students to explore the nature of complex natural systems and the dynamic human processes for knowledge building in science. The inquiry-based seminar circled through authentic questions that climate researchers are asking themselves today: 1) How fast can the global climate change? 2) Why does the climate change quickly? 3) How have past humans been affected by abrupt climate change? and 4) What about the possibility of abrupt climate change in our future?
Seminar students also learned about abrupt change in human networks. This was done through joint readings, discussions, and writing assignments with a second seminar under the common theme of paradigm shifts in science (taught by Larry Wichlinski, Psychology). Larry's seminar studied the ongoing paradigm shift regarding the mind-brain relationship in neuroscience. Jointly, the students read Gladwell's Tipping Point, Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and portions of Howard Gardner's Changing Minds and Jared Diamond's Collapse. This material allowed students to delve into abrupt changes of the human mind - at the level of individuals, small and large social groups, scientific communities, and civilizations. Trish and Larry also asked students to reflect on a past mind change and on their mind changes over the course.
With Carleton College support and a 2005 Carnegie Scholars Award (with partner Joanne Stewart, Hope College), Trish is doing a scholarly study on students' integrative learning in this seminar. Her research addresses this question: In what ways are students "going beyond" as they make integrative moves in this inquiry seminar that circled a single transdisciplinary concept - abrupt change - with richly related perspectives from science and social science?
Larry and Trish were supported by HHMI in summer 2005 to develop these linked seminars. Trish was also supported in summer 2004 with a Carleton Wallin Faculty Development grant and a Carleton curriculum development grant. She received one course release in fall 2005 as part of Carleton's contribution to her Carnegie Scholars Award.
Learning to Learn (Acrobat (PDF) 346kB Feb21 07), Karl Wirth (Macalester College) and Dexter Perkins (University of North Dakota)
MountainRise, an electronic journal dedicated to the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Getting started: Doing the Scholarship of teaching and learning, University of Wisconsin