published June 20, 2012

Speakers to Offer "Master Class in Sustainability," Lead Discussions on Assessment Techniques


In a recent eNews, we announced that the director of the Board on Science Education, Dr. Martin Storksdieck, will open the SENCER Summer Institute 2012 with a discussion on the next generation science standards and their effect on undergraduate students and education. Today, we are pleased to announce that we have also confirmed Dr. Barbara Tewksbury, Dr. Jay Labov, Dr. Stephen Carroll, Mr. Christopher Lazzaro, and Dr. Cathy Middlecamp as plenary presenters.

A joint session by Dr. Middlecamp and Dr. Labov will reprise an approach we took last year of using a topic of civic concern to teach science and illustrate how to apply the best practices recommended in national reports. Building on the new undergraduate course incorporating SENCER ideals that she has developed at the University of Wisconsin Madison, Cathy will offer a master class for SSI 2012 participants on the topic of sustainability. Focusing on the question, "How do you teach once you know how students learn?" Dr. Labov will use Cathy's presentation as an occasion to provide a national policy perspective and a commentary of how Cathy's presentation manifests recommended pedagogical practices.

Continuing another important SENCER tradition of collaboration with the On the Cutting Edge project and Dr. Tewksbury, Barbara will help us think about how to move from setting goals for what students know to achieving goals for what students can do with what they have learned. How do we move from knowing to doing something with what we know is as important an intellectual challenge as it is a civic one. "How would we assess our success?" will be just one of the questions Barbara's plenary will engage participant in answering.

Assessment will be the focus of a third all-institute session featuring Dr. Carroll, PI of the SALG, and Mr. Christopher Lazzaro, director of science education at College Board. New assessment initiatives being planned by both organizations and their connection to the SENCER project will be explored. Participants will work together to consider how to assess for "enduring understandings" that enable both scientific literacy and civic engagement.

We always have to remind ourselves to "walk the walk" of active learning, so all plenary session speakers have been asked to find ways of engaging participants in the "knowledge production" leading to what Dr. Myles Boylan, our NSF program officer, once referred to as SENCER's "empowerment" approach.


Photograph of Dr. Barbara Tewksbury