published January 1, 2007

SENCER E-Newsletter, January 2007, Volume 6, Issue 4

Capitol Hill Symposium and Poster Session Participants Selected


The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement will welcome approximately 60 faculty, administrators, and students from 24 colleges, universities, and high schools to Washington, DC in early March for the second Capitol Hill Symposium and SENCER Poster Session. This year's program will focus on STEM learning and SENCER in relation to the development of a 21st century workforce through distinguished plenary speakers, breakout sessions, and of course, through the work presented by the participants. The posters accepted for display address issues as

varied as urban health, identity development, traffic, and geology, and the approaches used to teach the science behind these civic issues are just as diverse. The poster topics and authors, some of whom will be representing their institutions at the symposium are listed below. In upcoming issues of the newsletter, distinguished speakers will be highlighted, and following the event, PDF versions of all posters will be available at SENCER


Capitol Building


Brigham Young University: Impact of Concept Mapping, Service Learning, and Assessment Strategies on Learning Outcomes in a Community-based Non-majors Biology course.

Julie Low, Gary M. Booth

Concept mapping and other pedagogical strategies were compared in two non-majors biology classes of Freshman Academy students. Both control and treatment classes were assigned pre- and post-assessments weekly surveys, and weekly recitation sections. The treatment cohort was also trained to use concept mapping strategies in making connections between and among biological concepts. Preliminary data analysis between the two groups suggests that learning outcomes may be partly or totally related to the connected understanding of the learner and how the learning environment is constructed.


Chapman University: Do We Do What We Say We Do? The Proof Is In The Doing.

M. Arredondo, Donna Cucunato

This poster examines the use of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) to analyze Liberal Studies students' attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors pre and post the experience of a SENCER infused project assigned within a senior capstone course. Between 2003 and 2005 Chapman University's senior capstone course in the Liberal Studies major underwent a major change as a SENCER infused project was implemented. Liberal Studies respondents not only rose in knowledge and skills need to engage in voting from 2003 to 2005, they also scored substantially higher than all other institutional respondents.


Chapman University: Connecting the Dots: Light Bulb Moments in the Science Education of Liberal Studies Students

M. Arredondo,Virginia Carson

This poster tracks the development of SENCER infused curriculum changes from 2004 to the present. Special focus is placed on connections between a Life Science course taken by Liberal Studies (LS) students and a LS senior level capstone course. Both courses include projects which begin with science issues chosen by students because of personal interest and proceed to examination of these issues through inquiry, data collection, analysis and discussion/conclusion. A high number of LS students reported experience at the institution contributed to knowledge, skill and personal development in voting in local, state, and federal elections.


Harold Washington College: Urban Asthma and Student Success

Donyel Williams, Dennis Lehman, Floyd Bednarz, and Will Kelley

The poster from the college will address the impact of civic engagement on the retention and success of remedial students as it relates to a program that focues on student health in an urban environment.


Hofstra University: Planet Earth, An Owners Manual: Scientific Literacy and Civic Engagement in an Introductory Geology Course for Non-science Students

J Bret Bennington, Janice Koch

Introduction to Physical Geology has been redesigned to develop scientific literacy in students who are not science majors by focusing on current scientific issues facing our society. The course examines the scientific method, relationships between systems, and issues such as groundwater management and coastal development. Instructing students in the science behind civic issues teaches geology in a context that is both compelling and meaningful to the students, while challenging them to think seriously about problems they will soon face as citizens in a global society.


James Madison University: A Space for Science

Cindy Klevickis, Kai Degner

Science teaching in elementary and middle grades requires more than just subject knowledge. Teachers need to understand unifying themes, big ideas, concepts, and interconnections. Perhaps even more importantly, they need to appreciate the value of science to society. To do this effectively, future teachers need space for experiential learning, the hands-on application of science through discovery. In response to the documented and serious national shortage of science educators, James Madison University has embraced the concepts associated with reform in elementary science teaching. At the center of our efforts is a facility that allows innovative teaching programs designed for both learning and experiencing science.


Kapiolani Community College: Early Birds and Night Owls: Analyzzzing Sleep in Society

John Rand, Robert Franco, Judith Kirkpatrick, Herve Collin, Veronica Ogata

Team taught courses in The Science of Sleep and Human Development allow students to engage in service-learning activities, such as tutoring and policy advocacy, that promote healthy sleep processes. A collaboration with Palolo housing to establish community-based research and service-learning components for the courses. Student use their research findings and a reflection on their work in their eportfolios. In addition, service-learning students will share their work with middle school students and their families in the Palolo Homes community.


Kent State University/Stark: Design and Implementation of a Multidisciplinary Course Addressing the HIV/AIDS Pandemic

Claudia Khourey-Bowers, Kim R. Finer, Lee Fox-Cardamone, Leslie Heaphy

Faculty members from biology, psychology, history and education designed a course framed around the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Course goals included critical examination of the virus and disease, application of scientifically valid research, and understanding of relevant published research. Students also applied critical principles to real world issues regarding public policy. Objectives were achieved by incorporating a variety of activities and assessments focused on different learning modalities. Activities included the production of a reflective portfolio, a viewing and discussion of the play Angels in America, conducting a personal interview with an HIV/AIDS-impacted individual, and group analysis of sex education policies in the United States.


La Salle University: Identity in the Emerging Adult

Margaret McManus, Diana Montague, Stefan Samulewicz, Jane Turk, Patricia Wilson

Identity in the College Age Student encourages connections between and among computer technology, psychology, and biology disciplines, the use of active and collaborative learning, and the incorporation of a civic engagement component. The goals include acquiring an understanding of the emerging adult by being able to synthesize the data on brain development, identity development, and development of decision making; understanding how scientists determine that the timing of puberty impacts identity in the emerging adult; and making informed decisions about the personal information that individuals give away and integrate into such decisions an awareness that such personal information may be collected with or without their consent. Students will learn about being open to information and develop the ability to interpret and evaluate the validity of the information.


LaGuardia Community College: Project Quantum Leap: A SENCER Approach to Teaching Mathematics in a Community College Setting

Paul Arcario, Prabha Betne, Gordon Crandall, Bret Eynon, Kamal Hajallie, Frank Wang, Jose Orengo

Project Quantum Leap is adapting the SENCER approach to a new setting and population: high-risk community college students in basic skills mathematics classes. We believe this model would be particularly appropriate for students who have generally had unsuccessful experiences with math and who are most in need of approach that can engage them more fully. Drawing on the strengths of the SENCER approache and with FIPSE support, LaGuardia is engaging our department of mathematics in transforming mathematics education for students college-wide, as well as for our on-campus high schools, directly serving over 3500 students during the course of the grant.


Loyola Marymount University: Using Group Projects on Community Issues to Develop Quantitative Skills

Thomas Zachariah, Suzanne Larson, Jacqueline Dewar

This poster describes the experience of using projects to incorporate a civic engagement component into a Quantitative Literacy course, a core requirement in mathematics for all students whose major does not require a mathematics course. The immediate goal is to engage these students in using mathematics to address problems in their campus or local community, while the longer-term goal is to prepare them to play active roles in addressing the problems and challenges of the larger society and world in which they live, using mathematics as tool.


Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts: Science Education for Pre-service Teachers: What Constitutes Adequate Preparation?

Adrienne Wootters, Michael Ganger

Most pre-service elementary teachers are underprepared to teach science when they graduate. A typical non-science major graduate has taken only two science courses, and it is unlikely that they will have either a clear understanding of the scientific method or an understanding of inquiry-based learning. It is also unlikely that they will have a firm grasp of the wide scope of basic physical, biological, earth, and space science considered fundamental in national frameworks. General science outcomes must be modified to address this situation. We are in the process of developing a proposal for changes in the outcomes for MCLA's science core curriculum courses to better meet the needs of pre-service teachers. Using the National Resource Center's National Science Education Standards as a guide, we will present a proposed set of revised outcomes.


Metropolitan College of New York: The New Urban Student: Using Science and Statistics for Insightful Decision Making

Heide Hlawaty, Richard Grallo

All citizens should know the risks to their health posed by living in an urban environment. Building upon the foundations of the Human Biology and the Life Sciences course in the core curriculum, this course delves into the public health issues faced by urban populations. Further questions regarding causes/diagnoses, physiologies, and implications of these challenges to vulnerable populations are discussed in the new SENCER course. Moreover, students learn the skills needed for civic engagement in addressing these community concerns. In addition to enhancing critical thinking and the interpretation of scientific and statistical information, course assignments include social action projects, promoting advocacy, social justice, and equitable education of underserved populations.


Rutgers University: Reinventing a Curriculum - The Catalyic Role of SENCER

Terry R. McGuire

I have been involved with SENCER for five years. SENCER gave me the tools and support to reinvent myself as a professor. As a consequence I have been restructuring courses within the Genetics curriculum to make them more interactive and to stress the connections between scientific disciplines and between science and society. It has taken five years but now my department and Rutgers University are approaching me for help in assessment and in teaching reform. The transformative power of the SENCER project is gradual. Small teaching reforms introduced over several years eventually reach a "tipping point" where rapid educational reform is possible.


SciTech High School: Project-Based Learning: Science, Technology and Civic Engagement in a High School Setting

Clint Mitchell, Erin Pittman, Jill Schiessl, Kimberly Simington, Kevin Varano

SciTech High School, a small learning community of the Harrisburg School District, is a college prep high school in Harrisburg, PA. A cross-curricular approach enhances students' educational opportunities using project-based learning. In one such project on agriculture, tenth grade students perform research by tracing scientific and manufacturing production steps, cost, and any surrounding controversy of a product of their choice. Public education has been showcased at the Pennsylvania Farm Show and at SciTech High as Presentations of Learning. The Genocide Museum uses projectbased learning to assist students in constructing a museum open to the public that educates citizens about genocide throughout history and throughout the world.


Stonehill College: Children as Urban Ecologists, a SENCER Program for Pre-Service Teachers.

Stephanie McNamara, Susan M. Mooney, Karen L. Anderson

Children as Urban Ecologists is a SENCER learning community that links a course in best teaching practices with a course in environmental science via a third course in which students design and implement science curricula in urban pre-K-2 classrooms. Students were required to gather and analyze data on environmental health problems in the schools where they taught. Students were also taught science concepts to young children, an experience that helped them realize how capable and enthused children can be about science.


University of Hartford, Hillyer College: Issues in Health & Society: Weighing In on the Obesity Crisis. Incorporating STEM Education in the Fight for a Solution

Marissa Cloutier, Alexis Lemieux

This poster explores the 2006 emerging SENCER model course, Issues of Health & Society: Weighing In (Obesity), highlights the impact of the obesity crisis on the local, national, and global level, and states the importance of undergraduate STEM education in the fight for a public health solution. Descriptions of student participants, their interest level in STEM, and how they plan to implement what they learned into their future personal and professional lives are included.


University of Montana: Doing Real Air Quality Research with a University/Public School Partnership

Garon Smith, David Jones, Amy Smith, Tony Ward, Earle Adams, Diana Vanek, Nancy Marra, Michael Leary, Jim Striebel, Melissa Henthorn

Irrefutable scientific evidence has prompted EPA to strengthen regulations regarding fine particulate matter in ambient air. The mountain West is particularly impacted by these regulations since wintertime residential woodstove use and summertime forest fires subject communities to heavy doses of fine particulates. UM's SENCER project has furthered a research alliance between the University and a consortium of regional high schools. High school teachers transfer their training in EPA sampling protocol to their students. The students then formulate local research questions and use portable air sampling units to gather data on both indoor and outdoor air quality. Students come together in the spring with professional researchers and health officials to evaluate the state of our regional airshed at a university-hosted High School Air Quality Symposium.


University of North Carolina at Asheville: Integrative Liberal Studies Topical Clusters at UNC Asheville: A SENCER Project in Liberal Arts Curricular Reform

Edward J. Katz, Keith Krumpe

The Integrative Liberal Studies Topical Clusters offer all undergraduates the opportunity to experience the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities in courses arranged topically on issues of contemporary relevance. Rather than complete their general education requirements in fragmented fashion through disconnected courses chosen from a vast menu of options, the Topical Clusters feature an integrative curriculum, encouraging students make connections across disciplines. Natural science courses in the Topical Clusters emphasize civic issues of local, regional and global significance so that students develop a more sophisticated science literacy and an ability to address complex problems in multiple dimensions.


University of Southern Maine: SENCER in Honors/Honors in SENCER

George Caffentzis, Dinah Crader, Robert Sanford, Blake Whitaker

The Honors Program at the University of Southern Maine has been in existence for more than twenty years, but as a result of participation in SSI 2003, three new courses that form the core of "the Body Strand" in the Honors curriculum have been created. Until the development of these courses, interdisciplinary Honors courses had been primarily humanities-based. The poster will track the experience of creating and implementing the Honors Program courses, as well as the consequences of introducing honors students to SENCER courses.


Western Michigan University: Service-Learning Design Projects Make an Impact on K-12 Science Teaching and Learning

Dr. Edmund Tsang

Introduction to Engineering Design is a first-semester course required for civil and construction engineering majors and recommended for undecided majors at Western Michigan University. Service-learning provides the context for students to learn and practice the engineering design process, teamwork and communication skills. Students may elect to continue to a sequence of three 1-credit hour service-learning design courses, in which students continue to learn and practice engineering design and project management, taking on increasing responsibilities as they progress from sophomore to senior.


Wheelock College: SENCER and the Colleges of the Fenway Environmental Science Program

Ellen E. Faszewski

With the assistance of the SENCER Program, Colleges of the Fenway (COF) faculty have developed a unique course titled Environmental Forum, which serves as the cornerstone to a joint program in environmental science for the six small private institutions that comprise the COF. More than an introductory course in environmental topics, Forum provides a common ground for all environmental science students at all COF institutions to learn about current issues and interact with other COF students and faculty. This course promotes networking opportunities with local, regional, and national environmental agencies. In addition, students perform service learning throughout the Boston community in various areas including environmental advocacy and environmental education.


Woodbury University: Clean Water in Brazil, Traffic Impact on Global Warming, Scientific Concepts Applied to Business, Recycling v. Reusing

Eugene Allevato, Edmundo B. Hernandez

(Clean Water in Brazil) Considerations of how the water issue was addressed in California gave the lead to the concept of benchmarking in an international context in order to find solutions. (Traffic Impact on Global Warming) This project was part of collaboration between two different classes in which students worked together to obtain a survey to monitor the general public awareness of this issue. (Scientific Concepts Applied to Business) Students explored different avenues on how to approach and understand a business organization from a different perspective, but also promoted learning opportunities for science. (Recycling versus Reusing) This project covered both the recycling process itself and its economic dimensions. Collaboration between Physical Science and Advanced Statistics students in the preparation of a survey to monitor general public awareness of the issues was a fundamental part of this project to understand the politico-economic consequences.