Collaborating Across the Curriculum

Tuesday 3:00pm-4:15pm REC Center Medium Ice Overlook Room
Oral Session

Session Chairs

Catherine Riihimaki, Princeton University
Martha Murphy, Santa Rosa Junior College
3:00pm
Tools Supporting Open-Access and Community Developed Curriculum
Matt Lauer, Carleton College
Sean Fox, Carleton College

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The development and dissemination of community-driven, open-access curricular materials is a key element in the evolution of undergraduate education. It offers a mechanism through which the community of educators can distill and share best practices. An important enabling agent is the availability of toolsets that support both the development and dissemination processes. Over the past decade SERC has worked with the education community, through a series of projects and collaborations, to develop just such a toolset. It serves as an exemplar for the affordances necessary to move open education publishing forward. It includes frameworks that reflect best practices in curriculum design and that facilitate cross-institution collaborative authoring. It provides mechanisms for community feedback and evaluation through peer review tools and collection of cross-institutional student assessment data. Its publishing tools includes specific supports for the flexible adaptation, modification and reuse that is the promise of open education materials. This model system and its iterative development serves as a case study for the challenges and opportunities of the community-driven curricular model.
3:15pm
Building a Strong Collaborative Team: Factors for Success
Martha Murphy, Santa Rosa Junior College
Hannah Scherer, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Sarah Fortner, Wittenberg University

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The sustainability of humanity is dependent on managing geologic resources including: water, soil, and mineral resources. The InTeGrate Project addresses this through building earth literacy for undergraduates and through preparing undergraduates to work across disciplines to address earth resource challenges (Blockstein et al., 2012, others). Foundational to this project is the creation of teaching modules that are widely accessible to diverse institutions, that feature best teaching practices, and that support systems thinking and interdisciplinary connections. Modules are authored by instructors from diverse institutional settings, with several teams meeting collaborators through mutually identified interests. The authors for A Growing Concern: Sustaining Soil Resources through Local Decision Making are one such team. This presentation explores how this team operated, with particular attention to the factors that contributed to the success of the team and the benefits to the authors beyond the module development process. Factors that contributed to the success of our team included: providing a strong project foundation by collaboratively developing the topic for the module; an initial in-person planning meeting, where the authors spent uninterrupted time together developing the main body of the module; establishing an aggressive timeline that realistically took into account other obligations of all authors; regularly scheduled conference calls with specific tasks for each author to complete prior to the next call; and the utilization of Google Drive to share resources and Google Docs to collaboratively develop materials in real time. Innovation and sustained collaboration resulted from our work on InTeGrate including: establishing an effective workflow strategy, mutual respect, and understanding of individual strengths and interests. The strong working relationship that developed has facilitated opportunities for further collaboration, including conference presentations, a manuscript based on the module, and a grant proposal.
3:30pm
Developing a Resource Network for REU Leaders in the Geosciences
Valerie Sloan, NCAR|UCAR
Rebecca Haacker, NCAR/UCAR
Rebecca Batchelor, UCAR

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Research experiences for undergraduates (REUs) are found to successfully engage students in science, help students develop communication skills, and build a student's confidence. However, REU PIs work tirelessly and in relative isolation from each other to develop and maintain their internship programs. This presentation will introduce our efforts to develop an REU PI network in the geosciences, including the organization of national conferences, an email listserv, telecons, workshops, and the creation of online resources for REU leaders. Benefits of having such a community include being able to discuss pertinent topics such as REUs for community college students, share materials like handbooks for mentors and students, and collaborate with and provide support for each other. The goal is to strengthen the connections between REU community members and to support the sharing of best practices in a changing REU landscape, with the intention of increasing the number of students engaged and retained in the geosciences.
3:45pm
Engaging the whole campus: efforts to create a STEM-literate undergraduate population at Princeton
Catherine Riihimaki, Princeton University

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The Council on Science and Technology at Princeton University fosters education, research, and intellectual exchange that deepen and broaden understanding, experience, and appreciation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The Council partners with engineering, mathematics, natural sciences, the arts, humanities, and social sciences to explore and promote the relation of STEM with culture and the course of public affairs. Geosciences and Environmental Studies programs are two groups with whom we collaborate, working to foster improved environmental citizenship by helping students develop a mechanistic understanding of our individual, societal, and global role as agents of environmental change; an ability to predict or forecast the potential impact that decisions may have on the future structure and function of Earth systems; and a sense of responsibility that leads to informed action and decision-making related to environmental issues. Toward those ends, we have 1) reframed course curricula to more explicitly address the intersection between science and society, 2) developed hands-on exercises that are accessible to and motivate students from a variety of disciplines, and 3) modified course assessments to ensure that the students have consistent and clear indications of their mastery of the material. For example, I developed a laboratory exercise on paleoclimate proxies in which students visit the Princeton Art Museum to discuss whether art can be used as historic records of what the environmental conditions were like when the art was made. Through the course of the exercise, students develop guidelines for how to use proxies to make paleoclimate interpretations more robust, with particular emphasis on needing multiple, independent proxies to overcome potential confounding factors. Students' feedback was very positive, and we are exploring opportunities for further collaboration with the Art Museum as a means of engaging students from the humanities in science and engineering concepts.
4:00pm
Discussion