NCSCE Welcomes Formal and Informal Educators to SSI 2014
Following a competitive application process, 34 teams and nine individual representatives have been invited to gather in Asheville, North Carolina for the 2014 SENCER Summer Institute. We welcome 17 new institutions to our community with this latest cohort. Fifty-six percent of the attendees will be "new" to National Center initiatives, while a strong group of alumni will return to share results of their implementations and lessons learned and advance their work.
SSI 2014 participants express diverse interests in course and program applications, as well as a strong interest in formal and informal education collaborations. Civic issues at the focus of participants' future planning include cyber security, local water quality, cancer research, invasive species, and more. A few examples highlight the imagination and diverse interests of our SSI 2014 participants:
- -Butler University has initiated a multidisciplinary, community based partnership with nursing home using music to aid dementia patients.
- -Dr. Keith Miller of the University of Denver will launch a collaboration with a local library and involve students in course and activity design regarding physical and earth sciences.
- -Eastern Maine Community College students will help to design a storm water plan for the campus and provide the community partner, the city of Bangor, with useful data on the streams studied.
- -Dr. Kelsey Bitting of the University of Kansas plans to apply SENCER to DNA to Dinosaurs, an introductory-level geology class for non-majors.
- -At Northern Virginia Community College, the concepts of food chemistry, metabolism, enzymes, photosynthesis, genetics and evolution will be incorporated into a course to encourage students to dissect the scientific components of food.
- -Staying on a food-related topic, the University of Southern Maine team will use "the chicken" as entry point for an exploration of production of meat and eggs, providing a window into the dramatic changes in the food industry and in kitchen literacy over the past century.
Future issues of the eNews will include profiles of participants representing the SENCER-ISE, Engaging Mathematics, and other NCSCE initiatives and partnerships.
Team and group leaders are denoted with an asterisk.
Dr. Krishna, a first time SSI participant, is based at a liberal arts and science college in Ohio and has a history of applying problem based learning and case studies to curricula. She is particularly interested in exploring the applications of innovative and effective teaching pedagogies other small, community-based colleges have used with the aim of creating a civically engaged society. Dr. Krishna is also interested in learning from the teaching experiences of informal educators. Complex issues to be incorporated in future courses include race, gender, and cultural barriers. Student self-evaluations will be implemented to monitor growth resulting from the use of new methods and applications.
Arkansas State University
Kari Harris, Tracy Klotz, John Pratte*
For the past seven years, teams from Arkansas State University have been attending SENCER Summer Institute for help in revising a variety of curricular issues ranging from overhauling the Chemistry bachelor's and Environmental Sciences doctoral degree programs to making slight changes to general education physical science. One of the developments from their visit to Asheville in 2010 was the Experiential Learning Fellowships (ELF) Program, which funds a diverse set of undergraduates' involvement in research projects based on local issues. One of those projects has been research on digitizing the University's herbarium collection and educational materials to be used by the local Master Gardeners program in educating the regional population on the use of native plants.
This year, the team has three distinct goals: First, they plan to instill the idea of scientific engagement in civic issues in all ASU science and math clubs. Secondly, they seek to inspire other teams to digitize research to be of wider use. Finally, the team invites feedback from the SSI community to improve their planned digitization project.
Paul Bobrowski, Robert Holm*, Ann Knipschild, Giovanna Summerfield
Attendance at SSI 2013 was "an enlightening and energizing experience" for the Auburn team. The year's team has chosen to attend SSI 2014 to further the understanding of the SENCER program and to enhance the involvement of the College of Liberal Arts in STEM disciplines and civic engagement. The team will use information gathered from colleagues and mentors at SSI 2014 to further apply SENCER's interdisciplinary approach, to identify opportunities for curriculum development, and to begin to craft proposals for external funding. Team members are also interested in furthering their understanding and use of the SALG assessment tool. They look forward to networking with colleagues who have a broad knowledge of SENCER concepts, methods, and applications.
Peter Bower*, Saugata Datta, Tamara Graham, Bess Greenbaum Sewald, Joe Liddicoat
Brownfield Action is a web-based, interactive, three dimensional digital space and learning simulation in which students form geotechnical consulting companies and work collaboratively to explore and solve problems in environmental forensics. Created at Barnard College in conjunction with the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL), Brownfield Action has been used for over ten years at Barnard College for one semester of a two-semester Introduction to Environmental Science course that is taken by more than 100 female, undergraduate, non-science majors. Brownfield Action was selected in 2003 as a National Model Curriculum by SENCER, an NSF science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education initiative. The Brownfield Action network is planning a pilot project to create a massive open online course (MOOC) utilizing the Brownfield Action simulation and curriculum. This project would involve collaborative work with the CCNMTL and with the Brownfield Action faculty network, and would be a project leading to larger initiatives in years to come.
Margaret Brabant, Donald Braid, Tim Brimmer, Lacey Echols, Donald Hay, Joe Kirsch*, Jessica McCormick, Alison O'Malley, John Plewes
Butler University continues to have a strong commitment to civic engagement as an institution, as a community, and as a vital part of its curriculum. The 2014 SENCER team is a diverse group of faculty, staff, and associates. The team plans to share the elements of the civic engagement culture at Butler University. Reciprocally, the team hopes to learn from other participants and carry that learning back to Butler University to improve its curricula, programs, and civic engagement with the surrounding community.
Three members of the SSI team are currently working on a university/community project titled "That's My Music: An Inter-professional, Non-Pharmacology Intervention for Nursing Home Residents with Dementia." These team members represent a larger group of ten faculty from diverse departments and colleges, including music, psychology, the physician's assistant program, the College of Communications, and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences who are involved with the project.
Carolina Day School
Joanne Bartsch teaches at an independent college preparatory high school in Asheville. Over the past two years, Carolina Day School faculty have seriously investigated changing the direction and focus of their program to incorporate more progressive ideas in their curriculum. This year, for example, two-week intensive courses will be offered to students. The goal is to combine multiple disciplines in an overarching course that moves beyond normal classroom walls. Dr. Bartsch is expanding the use of project based learning, especially in upper level courses. For the last two years, her juniors and seniors have conducted short- term independent projects and have presented posters about their work. Dr. Bartsch looks to SSI attendance to broaden her perspectives on and understanding of progressive pedagogies and to seeing what post-secondary institutions are doing, so as to better inform secondary school educators about what their graduates will experience once in college.
The College of Staten Island, CUNY
As an alumnus of previous SSIs, Dr. Schanker reports that he has encountered many new ideas and developed new tools to help improve both STEM and non-STEM students' interest and learning in the field of technology. As a result, the College of Staten Island's science general education course and accompanying web site (a SENCER 2013 National Model) now include increased hands-on work, group activities, assessment resources, and examples of civically challenging approaches to STEM learning. Some of the civic challenges covered in his course are privacy, freedom of speech, intellectual property protection, and surveillance, the increased use of location detection technologies. Dr. Schanker's goals for SSI 2014 include planning strategies to develop students' social responsibility and civic engagement, facilitating a more positive attitude towards STEM, increasing information literacy, and interesting more students in becoming STEM majors. As he has at other SENCER Summer Institutes, Dr. Schanker hopes and expects to pick up new ideas that will also help him fine-tune his teaching.
Eastern Maine Community College
Jeff Melmed, Deanna Prince, Pamela Proulx-Curry*, Sheuli Zakia
Eastern Maine Community College's team will build on the past experience of SENCERizing the general education Introductory Biology course and apply it to a general education Introductory Chemistry course. Both courses will be designed around the study and monitoring of urban impaired streams in the city of Bangor. In their envisioned course, students will help to design a storm water plan for the EMCC campus and provide the community partner, the city of Bangor, with useful data on the streams studied. Team members aim to devise strategies to improve student engagement, increase retention, and positively affect attitudes toward science. The chemistry and biology instructors will collaborate with the GIS and mathematics instructors (both past attendees of SSI) to analyze the data obtained from the project.
Jason Aloisio, Janna Heyman, Amy Tuininga*
At SSI 2014, Fordham faculty and administrators look to gain a strong set of tools to begin envisioning and implementing a new cross-disciplinary approach to solving problems that will engage students and faculty at Fordham and its partner institutions. Through building an integrative and inter-institutional approach, the team hopes that a greater breadth and depth of coverage of the identified issues will be examined. The team plans to involve the Bronx community in identifying research topics of interest and of need, and intends that the research results from interactive teaching strategies will be of immediate use to the local Bronx community. The team hopes that their project will serve as a model for other consortia and collaborations.
Caleb Kersey, Rachel Stevens Salmon*
The biology department is currently incorporating SENCER ideals into an introductory cell biology course for majors. The goal of this course is to produce compassionate and informed advocates for cancer research while teaching the fundamental concepts of cell biology. During SSI, the team hopes to receive feedback regarding its approach and to incorporate new ideas to improve the pedagogy. The team is also interested in exploring how the SENCER ideals can be incorporated into the department's upper-division cell biology, biochemistry, and genetic courses, since most of the students taking the introductory class will take one or more of these upper-division courses for their major. Freed-Hardeman University is promoting an initiative that supports transformative approaches to undergraduate education. Drs. Kersey and Stevens Salmon plan to share the ideas gathered at SSI 2014 with colleagues in anticipation that others will be receptive to these approaches as a way of aligning the curriculum with the university's academic initiative.
Guilford College and North Carolina A&T State University
Kelsie Bernot, Julia Beveridge, Randall Hayes, Melanie Lee-Brown*, Kayla Mayes, Maura Nsonwu, Daniel Rhodes, Andrew Young
This team includes faculty and students from multiple disciplines (biology, justice and policy, game design and technology, sociology and social work) at two institutions, each with its own unique history for addressing social inequalities (Guilford College, a private Quaker liberal arts college, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCA&T), a land grant Historically Black University / College). Against the backdrop of the vibrancy of mission and legacy of service of the partner institutions, faculty members have consistently observed that STEM major students have difficulty with recognizing how lessons learned in the classroom can be applied to address the real-world problems of diverse population of immigrants, refugees, and other underrepresented groups who are facing many difficulties, including health disparities/inequities, housing and transportations problems, facilitating acculturation and navigating social services, employment and educational resources. The team's overarching goal is to create a framework in which students will work with community members from these groups to develop projects that simultaneously engage the students in using science outside of the classroom, while serving the community by addressing real world problems. The team plans a tiered approach to the course it will design. First, a small cohort of college students will be identified, recruited, engaged, and trained to serve the minority community. These students will then serve as leaders in the program as the project moves to engage the general population students within Social Science and Biology classes to work in the community. Students from both disciplines and both institutions will work together in meetings with the community. The goal for the Institute is to design the framework for implementing and assessing a pilot project in Spring 2015.
Harry S. Truman College
Christine Aguila, Mahesh Gurung, Geoffrey Martin, Pervez Rahman, Raymund Torralba*, Joy Walker
In Spring 2012, Truman College launched the "Learning Communities Program (LC)" in order to improve the success and retention rates of the most at-risk students, particularly those in developmental education. As a result of the initial successes in offering first-semester learning communities to those students in need of remediation, the program began to pair college-level courses together, which allows both experienced learning community students the option of a second semester in the program and extends the learning community benefits of curricular integration to arriving freshmen who are college-ready. The successes in pairing science courses with those in other disciplines, particularly in Communications, through integrating course materials and assignments and wrapping them around current, unresolved issues relevant to the students in Chicago, has created the desire to share what has been accomplished in an appropriate forum. At SSI, the team hopes to learn from those with more experience in developing and delivering interdisciplinary courses. Team members also aim to build capacity at Truman. In the year following the Institute, the team plans to (1) enhance the associate's in Environmental Science program by creating an academic pathway that includes learning communities involving the required science and non-science courses in the program; (2) develop a Literature and the Environment course that can be added as a Humanities elective in the program; (3) form partnerships that could provide field-based learning and research opportunities for our students; and (4) continue to solicit feedback from SENCER (including SCI-Midwest) and other experts in order to share and monitor progress towards overall goals.
Hofstra is currently considering redesigning the curriculum for its mathematics majors. As it is set up now, mathematics is "a classic major that prepares students for graduate school." Although this foregrounds the mathematics that many mathematicians find beautiful, many of the majors do not go on to graduate school. Faculty and administrators at Hofstra are beginning to believe that they could better serve students by connecting their work to other disciplines and the outside world; a curriculum that made more connections between the mathematics they see and the world they will be living in. Dr. Silberger is interested in learning from colleagues who have made similar transformations in their colleges or universities. Secondly, her department would like to encourage mathematics majors to become more involved with the community around Hofstra and seeks to find ways to accomplish that objective. The goal of Hofstra's faculty is to have their students graduate from Hofstra with a sense of connection with their civic environment as well as a firm grasp of abstract mathematics. Dr. Silberger is interested in exploring ways to incorporate civic engagement into the curriculum in a way that doesn't sacrifice the depth of mathematics coverage, but does account for the demands imposed on students' obligations and limitations outside of the classroom. A third area of Dr. Silberger's interest is the redesign of mathematics courses for non-majors to include real-world, relevant issues.
Indiana State University
Tina Kruger*, Shelby McConnaughey, Scheyenna Mundell
The team plans to become more familiar with strategies and techniques utilized across the SENCER community. The team is currently focused on increasing the number of SENCER courses offered on the Indiana State University campus within various disciplines. Currently, Indiana State University has 35 courses that have been "converted to the SENCER mode" and this number is expected to increase within the next year. The SSI 2014 team has a strong interest in disseminating the SENCER model to other colleges within Terre Haute and surrounding areas, such as Ivy Tech Community College in AY 2014-2105. The team plans to finalize a new version of our SENCER rubric that will help to streamline the process of SENCER course evaluation, as well as help to identify the strengths and weakness of current courses. The team believes that a revised rubric could serve as a guide for other teams across the nation. The team intends to use what it gains from SSI 2014 to help foster professional growth within university's larger SENCER leadership team, as well as other faculty and students.
Kingsborough Community College
Teaching at an urban community college involves working with a student population from widely diverse socioeconomic, educational, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, who have equally diverse educational motivations and career goals. Many of Dr. Rozenboym's biology students aspire to enter careers in healthcare professions. Teaching these students presents the additional challenge of "delivering exceedingly dense course material, while maintaining a motivational, student-centered framework that contextualizes the required [course] content." In the past year, Dr. Rozenboym led a team of inspired biology faculty in developing curriculum emphasizing student learning of biology through relevant public issue of food availability and justice. Currently, she is piloting a redesigned course to address student learning of concepts of anatomy and physiology by building an explicit link between course content and food issues related to human health and healthcare. As an alumnus of SSI 2013 and a team leader representing the biology department from Kingsborough Community College, Dr. Rozenboym plans to share her experience in developing curriculum for SENCER-inspired biology courses and learn innovative pedagogy from her peers. Following SSI 2014, she plans to disseminate new approaches to integrative and student-centered learning and to conduct a formal assessment of students' gains, as well as general attitudes towards civic engagement and service learning at Kingsborough.
Todd Gary, Ben Hutchinson*, Tammy Klingbyll, Autumn Marshall
Long time participants in the SENCER program, Lipscomb University has created three programs incorporating SENCER ideas and ideals. The most recent SENCER effort, started in 2013, is the integrated physics and nutrition course focused on energy and matter that was introduced to the LIFE (Lipscomb Initiative for Education) program, which provides courses leading to an associate's degree for inmates at the Tennessee Prison for Women. The inmate ("inside") students examine scientific content that intimidates many students, physics, with a subject that appears more welcoming, nutrition. This integration of science topics and disciplines puts a human face on the process of science. The team's SSI 2014 goals are to plan the continued expansion and integration of the three programs, with a special interest in preparing science-related courses for prison population that will also including traditional Lipscomb University undergraduate students ("outside" rather than "inside students") in the prison classroom.
Laurie Bragg*, Jennifer Dinham, Andrea Littlefield, Vicki Nemeth
In July 2009, Maine EPSCoR received an NSF EPSCoR award for its "Sustainability Science Initiative" project that seeks to connect knowledge with action in ways that promote strong economies, vibrant communities, and healthy ecosystems. Using the SENCER approach, faculty from the University of Maine system and partner institutions plan to create opportunities for students to be engaged in science research projects that are addressing real word problems currently facing Maine's communities. By the end of their coursework, these students will find themselves learning to be effective science communicators, leaders, and advocates for their communities' pressing scientific issues. Using the framework of SENCER, Maine EPSCoR will support faculty to develop locally-relevant, university-level curricular and pedagogical innovations (revising undergraduate and community college STEM courses to engage community issues and activities). SENCER team members will lead statewide SENCERized courses scheduled for the fall of 2014 and spring of 2015 for pre-service teachers, community college faculty and graduate students.
Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee Solar Conversion through Outreach, Research and Education
Samantha Brown, Keying Ding, Jackie Eller, Kaylene Gebert, Angela Gilley, Caleb Hough, Judith Iriarte-Gross*, Drew Sieg, Martha Weller
Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee Solar Conversion have been working together as a team through Outreach, Research and Education (TN-SCORE - TN's NSF EPSCoR RII Track I award) since a partnership was forged via an outgrowth of TN-SCORE participation in the Strategic Synergies initiative of the 2012 SENCER Summer Institute. The goal this year is to work as a team to expand current collaboration with other MTSU faculty and students. Concerns about STEM recruitment, retention and graduation of both STEM and non-STEM major students are driving this initiative. Inspired by the SENCER ideals and the growth of the MTSU and TN-SCORE team, the team proposes to build on the work that has been done on the design and testing of renewable energy modules to enhance strategies that incorporate renewable energy and sustainability themes into undergraduate and graduate courses featuring service learning components. SSI 2014 is expected to help new team members to identify opportunities to incorporate best practices into their classrooms and a planned consultation with a SENCER is envisioned for new and veteran team members to plan to apply the framework to other disciplines across the MTSU campus and community.
New Hampshire EPSCoR and New Hampshire Campus Compact
Cyndy Carlson, Doug Earick*, Rachel Whitaker, Katharine York
Through a series of statewide workshops and with the support of individuals representing the collaborative who have attended both national and regional workshops representing the collaborative, SENCER has provided model and opportunity for the development of collaborations between New Hampshire EPSCoR and NH Campus Compact around faculty professional development and student outreach. The SSI 2014 team proposes to plan and develop an integrated curriculum focused on existing NH-EPSCoR Ecosystems & Society datasets and to align instruction using these data to a SENCER instructional planning model. The team expects that this effort will lead to improved learning and instruction in team member courses and the development of opportunities for student research within these course settings. The team anticipates that the research and other opportunities for student engagement within impacted courses will lead to increased interest in study in the STEM fields, thus promoting EPSCoR goals of workforce development. To promote the incorporation of SENCER methodologies that focus on the involvement of faculty and their students in civic engagement and studies of public issues, SSI 2014 "alumni" are expected to share their experiences and new understandings with colleagues from their individual institution and within Campus Compact/NH-EPSCoR network through workshop presentations. The network is especially excited about providing an opportunity for faculty from two-year and four-year institutions to work together in developing a shared curriculum and enhancing statewide collaboration among institutions.
New York City College of Technology
Marianna Bonanome, Juanita But, Rebecca Devers*, Davida Smyth
The NYCCT team's main purpose for attending SSI 2014 is to find ways to advance the goal of engaging students in sustainable community awareness. The team wants to find ways to address the socioeconomic and geographic realities that present challenges to many students and limit student retention, graduation rates, and success beyond college. Related goals include a multi-course, multi-disciplinary implementation of learning activities and assignments that focused on nutritional. The goal is to increase learning while assisting students in preparing a personal or family budget that accommodate healthier food options. The biology labs will be used to analyze the biomolecules in various natural and processed foodstuffs. Field trips to community gardens within New York City will be designed so that students can participate in active learning within their communities. Following SSI, the team plans to implement activities in English, biology, and math classes that promote students' environmental consciousness, as well as their physical and financial wellness. Students will be expected to share their work at a college-wide poster session and via the college's Open Lab, an online platform for classes, clubs, projects, and ePortfolios. Team members also anticipate offering a workshop for faculty across the college aimed at disseminating these curricular innovations.
Normandale Community College
Mark Ahrens, Anthony Dunlop, Rick Dunning, Martin Jones, Cary Komoto, Victor Padron*
SSI 2014 will be the second opportunity for Normandale Community College to participate in a SENCER Summer Institute as a team. The first time was in 2010, during which the team initiated a collaboration, led by Tony Dunlop, to develop a SENCER version of the Mathematics for Liberal Arts course. This course has since been implemented three times as a pilot and it is one of the projects under development within the NCSCE Engaging Mathematics initiative. Individual participation other Summer Institutes was the germination for the development of other SENCER curricular material for courses in mathematics and geology. Expanding on these experiences, the team would like to use SSI 2014 participation to strengthen Normandale's SENCER community, continue its work within Engaging Mathematics, and nurture the continued development of effective teaching and innovative curricula.
North Dakota State University
Jeff Boyer*, Ron Degges, Rob Gordon, Jenni Momsen, Erika Offerdahl, Scott Wood
The overall goal for attending SSI 2014 is to broaden the impact of the SENCER Ideals within NDSU's College of Science and Mathematics (CSM). Previously, a CSM team participated in SSI 2013 with the goals of revising an existing general education science course for non-majors (UNIV 150: Foundations of Science) and increasing the UNIV 150 teaching team's knowledge of teaching practices, strategies, and techniques that engage students and promote civic engagement. Faculty members who attended SSI 2013 have shared their experiences with colleagues, and this has led to increased interest in the SENCER Ideals. To broaden the impact within the College, the department plans to send additional faculty members, who teach large enrollment courses for science majors, to SSI 2014. Previous redesign effort focused on a course for non-science majors. By targeting faculty members, who teach large enrollment courses for science majors, the team hopes to broaden the impact of the SENCER Ideals within the College by redesigning existing courses for science majors that will impact a large number of students, especially those in STEM fields. A secondary goal for this implementation project is to continue to refine UNIV 150 that was previously redesigned to reflect SENCER Ideals. The teaching team realizes that there is still more work to be accomplished. In future offerings, the team plans to integrate game-based learning as a strategy for science learning, student engagement, and civic engagement. Specifically, the team plans to integrate "games for social change" such that students will reinforce science learning and civic engagement while playing games. In addition, students will brainstorm and design new games that promote science learning and civic engagement.
Northeastern Illinois University
Caleb Gallemore, Anui Mubayi David Rutschman*, Jennifer Slate, Emina Stojkovic
NEIU has developed SENCER-inspired interdisciplinary Environmental Science (ENVI) program over the last several years, with much of the work done at the past Summer Institutes. The program is now awaiting state approval. The program is the result of the collaboration of members of the departments of biology, chemistry, earth science, geography and environmental studies, math and physics. The proposed attendees to SSI 2014, from three of those departments, are key participants in the ENVI program and, with the exception of the team leader, have not previously participated in a Summer Institute. There is a keen interest in strategies for the inclusion of civic engagement and interdisciplinary collaboration in the ENVI program. At the Institute, the team will lay the groundwork for the implementation of the program. This will involve planning for detailed curriculum development, for developing a network of local agencies and organizations for internships and projects, as well as for working on student recruitment.
Northern Virginia Community College
Gillian Backus*, Lucinda (Cindy) Miller, Diane Mucci, Malvika Talwar
BIO101 is the most commonly taught basic science course at Northern Virginia Community College, with sections are brimming to capacity. Although 74.4% of students pass the course college-wide, the recent community college survey of student engagement (CCSSE, 2011) revealed that only 47% of NVCC students are engaged in class, as measured by the indexes of active and collaborative learning, student effort, academic challenge, student-faculty interactions, and support for learners. The team believes that biology students can be engaged from day one by reassessing the way syllabus, learning goals, and objectives are presented. The team will work to carefully craft realistic goals and assessable objectives that better capture what the team hopes to accomplish in BIO101. To do this, the team will use the essential tenets of SENCER to plan a course around the theme of food. The team will incorporate concepts of food chemistry, metabolism, enzymes, photosynthesis, genetics and evolution as students dissect the scientific components of food. The team will also create opportunities for students to consider the economics, business, politics, and availability of food. To help disseminate this new approach, the team's next step will be to create a comprehensive series of learning modules by sharing "best practices." By sharing case studies, interactive activities, worksheets, websites, and stories, the team expects to "flip" BIO101 classrooms into learning environments that will engage and enrich students. The team aims to create a more learner-centered syllabus that will encourage student responsibility, and will help students become better-informed, healthier citizens.
John Cramer*, Lynn Gieger, Humayan Kabir, John Nardo, Brian Patterson, Michael Rulison, Karen Schmeichel
The SENCER Summer Institutes function as retreats for the Oglethorpe University SENCER team, a time to think together as a team about what is being done and what can be done on campus and in the community to further the goals and ideas of SENCER. More than a retreat, the Institute allows participants to immerse in SENCER's broader context and collaborate with other teams engaged in similar projects through sharing and feedback. Institute's workshops, plenary sessions, and team time narrow the focus of broader goals brought by the team to the Institute. The team has taken on quite a few SENCER initiatives in the past decade. Currently, the immediate goal is the continuation of the ongoing Engaging Mathematics project. Beyond that, the team hopes to plan and offer SENCERized Honor Seminars, work with Wofford College toward strengthen SENCER on both campuses, and dedicate time to strategic planning for the future of the science division and for STEM programs general at Oglethorpe University.
Penn State York
Jorge Santiago-Blay*, Suzanne Shafer
The Penn State York participants want to make the learning of sciences more accessible to all. This team believes that this is particularly important in view of the "wholesale assault on the sciences in our country, the relative low levels of scientific literacy of the citizenry, and the generally less than ideal job that many scientists do in bringing intelligible science to non-scientifically trained people." The team has experience in teaching paired courses (Environmental Science and College Reading) and is hoping to improve and expand this practice. Specifically, for this Summer Institute, the goal is to redesign the Environmental Science course to include SENCER practices and to fit the College Reading course better. The team proposes to measure the success of this redesigned Environmental Science course by measuring scores in: (1) Environmental Science assessments, including exams and quizzes, (2) adaptive learning technology (LearnSmart) for Environmental Science, (3) aptitudes and attitudes towards learning through the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory, as well as (4) pre- and post-semester surveys of students' attitudes towards the sciences. Scores will be compared with those from previous semesters with the goal of improving the courses and their outcomes.
Cathy Evins, Barbara Gonzalez, Wanwan Huang, Melanie Pivarski, Michael Ruth, Robert Seiser*, Susan Weiner
The 2014 Roosevelt University team will be comprised of alumni with one to nine years of involvement with the SENCER project. Two team members, Barbara Gonzalez and Cathy Evins, are participants in the Engaging Mathematics initiative and have been instrumental in redefining how mathematics is taught at Roosevelt. Michael Ruth, representative from computer science, is interested in innovative instruction in that discipline and in community engagement through summer programming for middle school students. Susan Weiner, from biological science, brings her interests in SENCERizing the anatomy and physiology sequence by incorporating case studies as active learning tools through the curriculum. Bob Seiser is interested in core biology curriculum redesign, assessment practices and expanding the scope and impact of the SENCER project. "Big picture" issues that are planned or already in use by the team members include "our aging population," testing and overtreatment, and exploring health disparities. These are addressed in various settings ranging from introductory college classes and upper-level majors classes to summer programs. Following SSI, the team plans to share what it learns with alumni who will not be able to attend SSI this year and other colleagues at Roosevelt. The team will also carry on with projects already underway and get the results out through publications and connections to colleagues at other institutions, particularly at the regional level through the activities of SCI-Midwest. Roosevelt's goals, "as always, are to maintain connections with the SENCER community, help and give back in every way possible, recruit new people to join the project, and keep working to improve the quality of teaching and learning."
Rutgers – New Jersey Medical School
On July 1, 2013, seven schools of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) became part of Rutgers University as its new Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) program. These units include New Jersey Medical School, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Jersey Dental School, School of Nursing, School of Public Health, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and School of Health Related Professions. The collaboration has presented opportunities to initiate new educational programs that did not exist within the schools of the new RBHS. As a result, a sub-award application to develop a plan to initiate collaborative programs related to interprofessional education among the faculties and students of the RBHS was submitted to develop the "Interprofessional Healthcare Seminars" that will be taught by faculty members from different health related disciplines, and attended by students drawn from the various schools mentioned above. The course will have 3 major sections: introduction, investigation and discussion of patient-based clinical scenarios, and assessment of knowledge gained and reflection by students. This is the first SENCER course to be offered within the newly formed academic medical center. Time at SSI 2014 will be used to refine the course idea, add new components, and develop an evaluation plan.
Southern Connecticut State University
Hyi-gyung Clara Kim, Aaron Clark, Nicholas Edgington, James Kearns, Winnie Yu*
The goal for the academic year 2014-2015 is to explore factors that will improve STEM student retention and graduation rates by engaging students with their learning. Institutional and programmatic factors that can be amended to bring improvement in learning outcomes for STEM students will be identified and addressed. The team plans to foster a broad perspective in science, technology and math, emphasizing on the STEM subjects as inter-related disciplines.
To achieve this goal, team members will utilize their time at SSI and afterwards to create a curricular map for each STEM discipline so that students are clear on course requirements and the sequence of coursework should be taken, ensuring that at each level they have the appropriate foundational knowledge to succeed. They will also plan ways to reinforce STEM learning by highlighting the interrelationships among science, technology and math subjects. In the spirit of aligning University resources in the service of STEM learning goals, the team will will coordinate with University tutoring center to provide skilled student helpers at appropriate levels. Team members will also plan ways to connect STEM students with the campus career and placement office, local internship programs, etc. to help students gain situational experience. Finally, the team hopes that exemplary student work will be selected for presentation at the SENCER Washington Symposium and/or at other appropriate academic professional societies events.
Suffolk County Community College
Candice Foley, Nina Leonhardt*, Sharadha Sambasivan, Troy Tucker
Climate change and sustainability are regular headline features in Long Island's leading newspaper, Newsday, which exposes students at Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) to these timely issues of environmental and global import. The college's faculty and administration are becoming more cognizant of these topics as one of SCCC's faculty, Professor Scott Mandia, has become a nationally recognized climate-change expert who contributes frequently to the discussion in the media and at the College. The 2014 SENCER team is leveraging this foundation, building on our faculty's preliminary work on citizen science topics in engineering, chemistry, pre-calculus, meteorology and physical geology. The team will work with interested faculty to re-design courses across the curriculum, based on SENCER ideals. These courses will incorporate inquiry, hands-on, and community-based activities that address strategies to mitigate the deleterious effects of human activities on climate and the environment. Examples will be drawn from locally relevant topics including the overuse of fertilizers, impacts of septic systems on the Island's aquifer system, greenhouse gas sources and the breathable atmosphere. Students will be encouraged to participate in research projects related to these topics at Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory. These activities complement our work under an ongoing award from the National Science Foundation Advanced Technical Education program to develop a green energy option in engineering science and electrical technology and to infuse understanding about energy use in general education courses. The team plans to share its work with colleagues at Long Island University, a large, multi-campus university serving all of Long Island that maintains space and offers courses on two of SCCC's three campuses. The SCCC team will also offer a session on SENCER as part of SCCC's Professional Development series, as well as present a paper or poster at national and international science education forums and at a future SSI.
St. John's University
Marilyn Dono-Koloris, Roberta Hayes
Uniquely situated in the NYC metropolitan area with four separate campuses, from urban to suburban, St John's University has a diverse and rich student population. St. John's offers its incoming freshmen students an opportunity to immediately become immersed in core courses through the Institute of Core Studies, which includes English, Scientific Inquiry, and Discover New York. Each course offers a multitude of ways to become involved in the community through academic service learning and experiential learning. Scientific Inquiry strives to foster the use of the scientific method to develop analysis, critical thinking skills, evidenced based reasoning, scientific literacy, and an appreciation of the scientific "issues" that all empowered citizens need to understand. Over the past two semesters, students in Scientific Inquiry and Discover New York were grouped into learning communities in which they participated in on-campus events and focus groups. They also conducted a common assignment that focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, for which they studied various affected areas and the storm's effects on the inhabitants of those communities, the plant life, and the underlying principles of evolution. St. John's University's participation in the SSI will bring to light what faculty members have been doing with students, and foster a greater sense of awareness with other educators.
University of Denver
Dr. Miller has integrated civic-engagement opportunities into his chemistry courses over the last ten years at the University of Denver (DU). He reports reasonable success in these efforts. So, SENCER captured his interest when listening to speakers present outcomes and results of SENCER programs during a symposium at the August 2011 American Chemical Society meeting in Denver. Dr. Miller's efforts in civic engagement scholarship have increased with a new project and he feels strongly that attending SSI 2014 will help him prepare for and direct this upcoming project. The collaborative project between Dr. Miller and the public library proposes to develop and test a series of interactive STEM learning activities that will be used for library programming during the 2014-2014 academic year. With the help of undergraduate and graduate students, Dr. Miller will design and pilot activities based on physical and earth science with the library. After refinement, DU undergraduate students will facilitate the learning activities at the library during the academic year as part of their coursework. A framework for these learning activities will also be developed to provide opportunities for other DU faculty as well as student science clubs to participate in this and future collaborations with other public libraries. At SSI, Dr. Miller expects to become better equipped to design and assess the proposed activities for the project, to receive constructive feedback from colleagues with SENCER experience on how to make improvements to the proposed activities, and to join a group of science educators passionate about integrating engaged scholarship into science courses and curriculum. He also hopes to leave the Institute with a better understanding of how to work effectively with informal science educators.
University of Hawaii Native Hawaiian Initiative
Hokulani Aikau*, Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, Ulla Hasager, Valli Kalei Kanuhe, Denise Konan, Kanaloa Schrader, Ty Kawika Tengan
Based on collaborations at SSI 2013, the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (UHM) College of Social Sciences (CSS) has launched the Native Hawaiian Initiative (NHI), an engaged student-learning initiative based on SENCER principles, civic engagement, and indigenous knowledge. NHI is intended to improve Native Hawaiian undergraduate student engagement and retention, because, despite increases in enrollment and graduation rates, Native Hawaiians continue to be underrepresented at the university. At SSI 2014, the team will share its research, experiences, and further develop course plans in order to be ready to recruit the inaugural cohort in Fall 2014 to pilot the NHI program during Spring and Summer 2015. The goals for participating in SSI 2014 are: (1) to continue to educate and strengthen UMH's core team of social sciences faculty in practicing the SENCER principles grounded in traditional Hawaiian values such as kuleana (responsibility/civic engagement), ʻohana (family/community) and ahupuaʻa (traditional land division, environment, sustainability); (2) with SENCER help, to work together to develop and implement a work plan for the coming academic year including to continue to expand network of faculty cooperating across disciplines; and (3) to seek inspiration and support for research and teaching strategies that strengthen learning, science literacy, critical thinking and assessment and build strong civic engagement among students and faculty.
University of Kansas
As a Teaching Postdoctoral Fellow for the recently-initiated University of Kansas Course Redesign Initiative, Dr. Bitting is tasked with working with faculty to transform existing introductory level geology courses to be more active and learner-centered, and to take advantage of evidence-based teaching methods. The SENCER model of structuring courses and content around current societal issues is one such evidence-based practice that has the potential to increase student motivation and engagement by connecting with students' everyday experiences and real world concerns. By participating in the SSI 2014, Dr. Bitting hope to begin a process of transforming multiple courses around modern concerns. For example, the course DNA to Dinosaurs (an introductory-level geology class for non-majors) will use the current mass extinction and human impact on the environment as the center point for a semester-long conversation about the relationship between organisms and our planet. Participants will explore the ways in which scientists understand those connections through the geologic record. Courses in which faculty might implement the SENCER ideals in the coming years include Environmental Geology, with an emphasis on sustainability; Earthquakes and Natural Disasters, focused around tornadoes and preparedness; and Energy and Climate Change, to be developed around concerns of diminishing fossil fuel resources and the climate response to burning them.
University of North Carolina at Asheville
Rebecca Hale*, Angeldeep Kaur, Caroline Kennedy, Jennifer Rhode Ward
Four members of the University of North Carolina at Asheville biology department will attend SENCER's 2014 Summer Institute, where they will work to reform the curriculum in core majors' and non-majors' courses. To increase the depth of student understanding and interest, the department is reorganizing courses around civic engagement themes, including biomedical research, genetically modified organisms, invasive species, threatened species, and climate change. One of the main goals is to create a scientifically literate student body that is able to evaluate data presented in the public sphere and draw appropriate conclusions about supported and unsupported claims, a skill central to the engagement of any citizen. To accomplish this, the team will deliver content knowledge set within these broader thematic contexts. The aim would be to instill in students a concern for the role biology has to play in their lives and society while equipping them with both the appropriate language in which to discuss it and theoretical context in which to critique it. The goals are to affect students' learning of concepts and procedures, and to improve their attitudes towards biology, research, and public communication. If successful, the reorganized courses will help students appreciate the role of science and scientific inquiry in civic conversations resulting in students' recognition of how different disciplines intersect to inform our society on important civic matters. The plan includes components focused on public communication of science, with the theme-based approach applied to majors as well as non-majors courses. Recalibration of the courses will have to be paired with a revision in course objectives as well as assessment criteria. At SSI, the team will work to develop specific objectives for each goal mentioned above and write rubrics to assess these objectives. The team will then redesign lab exercises around each objective and supplement course material with additional items to prompt conversations centered on the role of science in public issues.
University of Southern Maine
S. Monroe Duboise, Robert Kuech, Cheryl Laz, Rob Sanford*
The USM team intends to refine and improve a course developed for university's general education core, titled The Chicken. Chicken is the tour guide for exploration of production of meat and eggs, providing a window into the dramatic changes in the food industry and in kitchen literacy over the past century. Production and consumption of chicken is at the center of local and global debates. At the local level, municipalities in Maine and elsewhere regulate the keeping of chickens as well as poultry and egg production through law and local ordinances. At the global level, bird flu and fear of contagion have generated a variety of national and international responses. In the second part of the course, chicken becomes a window on the intersection of policy and politics with science, epidemiology, and ecology. In the third part of the course, the students explore humans' love affair with chickens in the realm of culture—in sport and story—to examine what chickens and our relationships to them have to say about us as humans.
University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Todd Kostman, Tammy Ladwig, Martin Rudd*, Bob Stelzer, Teresa Weglarz, Younis Zaidan
A multi-institutional team representing Fox Valley and Oshkosh will join the Institute to explore issues critical to the success of all students, including transfer missions and civic engagement requirements. Most recently, the focus has been on the civic engagement requirements of UWO's University Studies Program (USP). The team looked at how they can build courses into the two-year curriculum that meet the requirements of the transfer institution. Through a policy change, UWFox can now offer courses that are designated as service-learning, either as a stand alone or after course redesign. The team plans to explore the scope of inter-institutional service learning courses within a department, and interdisciplinary service learning courses. During the 2014-2015 academic year, the team will host two professional development workshops to allow faculty from both institutions to outline how they will co-develop outcome based civically engaged courses that will be accepted as part of Oshkosh's USP. Part of the focus will also be on first year learning experiences that engage students in civic-minded experiences as freshmen and allow them to persist in their degree.
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Elizabeth Hachten*, Sasha Karnes, Brandi Niemeier, Michael Oldani, Heather Pelzel, Daryle Waechter-Brulla
The 2014 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater team is focusing on integrating SENCER principles into a campus-wide initiative to expand offerings in the public health area. The multidisciplinary team includes faculty from anthropology, biology, history, psychology, health promotion, and history. The team intends to use SSI learning in developing new courses, planning new minors or majors, and revising existing courses in the health area. Upon returning from the Institute, the team will lead a workshop to disseminate SENCER principles to a larger group of faculty who teach health related courses. Throughout the 2014-2015 academic year, the team, along with colleagues in several departments, will map out new academic programs, design new courses, and explore ways to revise existing courses using SENCER principles. The team intends to incorporate the principles into several courses at both the introductory and intermediate levels. To make the relationship between their academic learning and life-long civic engagement more transparent to students, the students' classroom and laboratory learning experiences will be connected to both larger public health debates and to specific health concerns of nearby Wisconsin communities.
Emily Chamlee-Wright, Rebecca Fox, Karl Kehm, Doug Levin, John Seidel*
The interest in SENCER and the SSI was stimulated by attendance at a SCI-Chesapeake Bay meeting in Front Royal last September. SENCER's aims align remarkably well with Washington College's new strategic plan and the growing emphasis on engaged citizenship and the power of interdisciplinary inquiry. Team objectives in attending SSI 2014 include gaining a better familiarity with SENCER and the successes of other institutions, learning from examples and through discussion. The team is especially looking forward to the orientation session and team consultations. The conversations at the 2013 Front Royal meeting were stimulating and produced a high energy level creating high expectations for productive thinking and conversations in Asheville, this time engaging a larger team from Washington College. The team is particularly interested in learning more about the successful pedagogies employed by others, in exploring how to improve and expand partnerships in the larger community, and working to further cultivate a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration and civic engagement at Washington College. The objectives for the year following SSI 2014 will be aligned with the new strategic plan, but heavily shaped by what will be learned at the Summer Institute. An immediate post-Institute objective will be to produce a plan for enhancing SENCER-related programs at Washington College. The team is especially excited to develop better models for team teaching across disciplines and for making community engagement and civic responsibility central components of these efforts.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Michael Buckholt, Constance Clark, Laura Hanlan, Jill Rulfs*
In an increasingly science and technology based society, there is a clear need to educate a scientifically literate general populace as well as a qualified STEM work force, including STEM teachers. The recent "Engage to Excel" and "Vision and Change" reports both advocate a change in our instructional approach (PCAST 2013, AAAS/NSF 2011). In particular they endorse a shift to one, hands-on and discovery based, that will help encourage and maintain underrepresented groups such as women and minorities in the pursuit of STEM careers (Hunter 2007, Russell et al 2007, Pope et al 2011). It is clear that students would benefit from a pedagogical change that allows them to practice discovery-based science and at the same time see science in its historical context. As a step toward a solution to these linked issues the team will initially develop a hands-on discovery based course integrating the teaching of biology and the history of biology. By developing an interdisciplinary course that uses laboratories representing the kinds of conditions in which scientists and naturalists worked in the past, the team hopes to provide a way to help students discover for themselves the contextual complexity of science, and to help them understand science as a wonderfully messy, complicated and creative social process, grounded in particular times, places, and material conditions, and in which people learn from "failures" as well as from successes. The team believes that this method for integrating the teaching of biology and its history with laboratories simulating the actual processes of science at a variety of times and places would take advantage of the hands-on, participatory learning that WPI continues to develop in a variety of innovative interdisciplinary programs, and could ultimately serve as a model for use at other institutions.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute: Great Problems Seminar Group
Marja Bakermans*, Geoffrey Pfeifer, Derren Rosbach, Lisa Stoddard Kris Wobbe,
This SSI 2014 team consists of faculty members and a librarian working together in the first year Great Problems Seminars (GPS) program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The courses in this program are co-taught by an interdisciplinary set of faculty and are an introduction to WPI's problem-based curriculum. Students in GPS classes work in small teams to solve problems in food, health, resource, energy, environment, and water sustainability. Learning objectives for the GPS program include improving information literacy, developing evidence-based writing, preparing and delivering effective presentations, collaborating effectively on a team, and identifying complex problems and selecting and evaluating suitable solutions. In particular, the information literacy learning outcome aims to improve students' abilities to find sources, assess their relevance, and evaluate their claims. The goal for SSI is to develop and evaluate library research instruction in course curriculum that can be applied across all of the Great Problem Seminar courses. The team will accomplish this goal by creating assignments or modules that can be applied to each course and Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) instruments as tools of assessment. Following SSI, the team will implement these modules in several GPS classes (e.g., The World's Water; Food Sustainability; Power the Word; Biosphere, Atmosphere, and Human Fears) and evaluate how these activities improve student learning.
Young Harris College
Paul Arnold, Robert Campbell, Karyanne LM Kleine*, Christopher Sass
Young Harris College is a small, independent liberal arts institution in north Georgia that only recently transitioned to being a baccalaureate granting college. The team's immediate goal is to use SENCER participation as a platform for encouraging a more holistic approach to teaching and learning at the college. Team members intend to apply SSI learning on three fronts by sharing what they gain with other YHC faculty through a presentation in faculty lecture series or at a workshop as an offering by the College's Center for Excellence in Teaching or Learning. Team members also plan to design one or more modules to "try out" the SENCER principles in the 2014-2015 academic year; and, as an institution that recently approved a new, more flexible, and appealing general education core, explore the possibility of creating a cross-disciplinary course to be offered at the 1000 level for the 2015-2016 academic year that focuses on the Appalachian region. The team will judge their success by offering a workshop or a presentation to faculty; creating and implementing one or more modules; and convening an exploratory task force that includes SENCER participants and others to create a new general education core course.