Who are we?
The Science Education Resource Center (SERC) works to improve education through projects that support educators. Although our work has a particular emphasis on undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, we work with educators across a broad range of disciplines and at all educational levels. An office of Carleton College, our work is funded primarily through National Science Foundation grants. The office has special expertise in effective pedagogies, geoscience education, community organization, workshop leadership, digital libraries, website development and program and website evaluation.Collaboration
Collaboration with others is a fundamental part of SERC's work. The website content available through serc.carleton.edu has been developed primarily through collaboration with projects and individuals. We offer website support to projects such as the Earth Exploration Toolbook and organizations like Project Kaleidocope and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Our evaluation portfolio includes projects such as Faculty Participation in the NSDL, the Landscape Change Program, and the The Mathematical Association of America Convergence Online Magazine. Individuals are encouraged to collaborate with SERC by contributing activities, reviewing modules, or taking advantage of paid editorial or fellow positions when they are available.
What do we do?
SERC's services to the education community lie in four primary areas.
- Faculty Professional Development
Through projects such as On the Cutting Edge and Starting Point: Teaching Introductory Geoscience, SERC and its collaborators have offered a wide range of professional development opportunities for educators to stay up to date on geoscience content and pedagogy. Now we are bringing similar opportunities to the STEM educational community more broadly through projects such as the SERC Pedagogic Service and Microbial Life Educational Resources.
- Bringing Science into Broader Use
Together with our partners, we develop innovative resources that bring scientific research into use in education and by the public. Our staff has put together collections relating to geohazards such as tsunamis and hurricanes as well as other resources for teaching with visualizations. We also play a supporting role in projects such as the Earth Exploration Toolbook, Integrating Research and Education, and Microbial Life Education Resources which assist high school and college teachers in using scientific data and research results in their teaching.
- Community Visioning
Bringing groups of people together around particular issues to find consensus and a shared vision of future activity has become a particular strength for SERC. Initiated with our work in the geosciences (see, for example, Building Strong Geoscience Departments), these skills are increasingly being brought to bear on more generalized issues in STEM education (see, for example, Using Data in the Classroom, Reconsidering the Textbook).
- Research on Learning
SERC is engaged in research projects that seek to develop a stronger understanding of student learning in geoscience and STEM courses as well as how faculty learn about pedagogical practices. Projects such as Bringing Research on Learning to the Geosciences and Cutting Edge: Observing and Assessing Student Learning bring together experts in the cognitive and learning sciences with educators with "front line" experience.
How do we do what we do?
SERC has developed expertise with a number of tools to help us achieve our goals.
Workshops are an excellent way to bring people together to develop a community vision and action plan. They also provide a lower-distraction environment for busy faculty members to come together and create new educational materials or address a particular pedagogical issue. SERC is involved in a wide variety of workshops ranging from one time opportunities (Chronos Workshop), topical series (Teaching Quantitative Skills) to an integrated workshop series aimed at holistic professional development (On the Cutting Edge).
- Web Resources
SERC has developed websites on scales from a few pages supporting a workshop (e.g. Cows, Colleges, and Curriculum) to large integrated sites serving hundreds of thousands of users (e.g. Integrating Research and Education). These sites are all built using our Content Management System which is specifically designed to enable educators across the country to share their knowledge in formats that support easy use by teachers and faculty. The CMS incorporates digital library tools that enable easy referencing, reorganizing and reuse of resources to facilitate the development of new ideas that build on past work. These tools also make web resources on SERC sites easy to find with Google and shareable with other educational digital libraries. SERC websites are a great way to disseminate best-practices (Starting Point: Teaching Introductory Geoscience) and provide access to new educational and science research (Cutting Edge: Discoveries from Mars). They also provide new ways of introducing real data (Using Data in the Classroom) and authentic research into the classroom.
- Evaluation and Research
SERC engages in research and evaluation to guide its work. We have used interviews, focus groups and other qualitative measures as well as quantitative instruments such as surveys and polls along with web statistics to understand how faculty think about teaching, how they use the web, what they find useable and useful in our websites, and how they impact their teaching. We also engage in the programmatic evaluation of professional development programs and web resources developed by other programs around the country.
More information about the web sites found at serc.carleton.edu.