Enhancing Teaching and Learning about the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus: Who are Postsecondary Reformers in NC-FEW?

Friday 11:15-11:45am PT / 12:15-12:45pm MT / 1:15-1:45pm CT / 2:15-2:45pm ET Online


Sumaiya Tabassum, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Cory Forbes, The University of Texas at Arlington
Food, energy and water (FEW) are critical systems for humanity and subject to rapidly growing global demand compounded by climate change. The inter-dependency among these resources is multifaceted and complex, requiring an effective and coordinated Nexus approach. These challenges provide a rationale for sustained, systemic, and interdisciplinary educational efforts focused on food, energy and water systems in a wide array of educational contexts. The National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW) is an NSF-funded, emergent, transdisciplinary community of postsecondary educators and discipline-based education researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds engaged in sustained network- and capacity-building. Here, we present preliminary findings from an onboarding survey of 165 members of the NC-FEW community, primarily postsecondary faculty from a diverse array of disciplines, to better understand the depth of their FEW-Nexus knowledge base, confidence with FEW-Nexus teaching and education research, and sense of community affiliation. Results show that NC-FEW members are able to characterize FEW-Nexus concepts with approximately 56.57% accuracy. Participants were more confident about general teaching & research abilities (Mean=3.8) than with FEW-Nexus teaching & research proficiency (Mean=3.3). One-way ANOVA test showed a statistically significant effect of 'Professional Roles' and 'Disciplinary Identities' on FEW-Nexus teaching and research confidence at p<.05 level. Also, results demonstrate that participants feel connected to the community of FEW-Nexus educators only 'To some extent' (Mean= 2.28). Multiple regression analysis indicated positive impact of community interaction on teaching confidence, research confidence, and sense of belongingness to the community and vice-versa. These findings highlight the importance of boosting members' confidence and strengthening their sense of community affiliation to enhance their knowledge of the FEW-Nexus, as well as their Nexus-focused teaching and education research , therefore having important implications for ongoing NC-FEW community activities and broader postsecondary reform efforts.