I received this feedback from several of my colleagues throughout the natural sciences division.
1. Briefly list the most significant issues in science education facing you and your institution
- The increased amount of knowledge in the field and what to cover and not to cover. Also the increased cost of equipment (what to do about antiquated infrastructure and the increasing cost of maintenance).
- Facing biology, time to think about and change curriculum and time to keep courses up to date.
- Students' quantitative and statistical reasoning skills, science writing skills, time to be in lab and or run studies to collect data, and loss of knowledge going from one block to the next on the block plan.
- Cost of supporting student research. The new institutional priority to count research with students as "teaching" and not as scholarship. CC is the only ACM institution that offers absolutely no course credit for teaching labs toward a faculty member's teaching load.
- Graduating students without basic physical or mathematical fundamentals that they can make good guesses and estimations. Affordability to maintain and replace and upgrade instrumentation and subscribe to main research journals that are used mainly for teaching chemistry, biochemistry, and biology in a "higher expectations and higher price tags" environment. Balance of detailed training and drill versus "teaching students to think."
- The most important issue will be, over the long haul, the rising world population in the face of declining fossil energy sources. How to convince our schools to taking the lead in recognizing that this is a way bigger issue than the public (or even our own academic colleagues) realizes. Also, the rapidly growing effort to "certify" and "codify" assessment tools and techniques.
- I think that we should define quantitative reasoning and have a requirement. We are not doing our students a service by allowing them to graduate without ever thinking about quantitative reasoning to some basic level.
2. Which of these problems do you think would lend themselves to collaborative efforts at solution?
- Sharing equipment with colleagues and other institutions may help but it would be difficult between ACM institutions (at least for CC).
- Writing and QR/SR skills need to be developed and strengthened across different departments and the curriculum in general.
- I would like ACM Deans to strongly communicate with my Deans about why laboratory teaching counts toward science faculty's teaching load at their institutions and recommend that CC ought to count laboratory teaching toward our teaching loads too. I would like the ACM as a body to make a strong statement regarding laboratory teaching that accompanies lecture/discussion and faculty teaching loads. Or, at a minimum, to survey the colleges about how they calculate load for faculty who teach lecture/discussion & lab, and why they calculate it that way – a report to be shared with Deans and all faculty at the ACM schools.
- Can we get a LEED certified inspector system going among the ACM schools similar to that used in California in order to avoid the huge expense of third party providers?
- In chemistry, we have a big issue with instruments for teaching and research. I am interested in creative ways to share instruments and cut back on the high cost of everyone maintaining their own.
3. Are there any other issues that you seek collaboration among your ACM colleagues?
- I wish that FaCE grants weren't so restrictive; I have colleagues at other schools that I'd like to collaborate with in a routine way, but the FaCE grants' requirements are so restrictive that we can't get one.
- Comparing lab programs and other course "nuts and bolts" is often of interest.
- I am always interested in creative ways to use research in science and math to teach. Many of our students don't find time for an extended research project so in order for them to get any experience it would be nice to use it in our courses.