Faculty Reflections

Part of the InTeGrate Middle Tennessee State University Program Model

Mark Abolins, Middle Tennessee State University


I implemented InTeGrate and service learning during Spring 2017 in much the same way that I implemented them during Spring 2016 except that I did away with a few problematic parts of the course. As a result, students evaluated my course more highly than during any other Spring semester 2011-2017. The mean score of 4.4 exceeded the mean scores for all Spring 2017 MTSU Geosciences courses (4.3) and all Spring 2017 MTSU College of Basic and Applied Sciences courses (4.2). The mean was essentially the same as the mean score for all Spring 2017 MTSU courses.

Course(s): Geol 1030 Introduction to Earth Science, Spring 2016

A grade booster. The InTeGrate materials were well-aligned with "Introduction to Earth Science" goals. I gave three exams and the Exam 2 and Exam 3 means were the highest during 2011-2016. The Final exam mean was the lowest since 2013, but the combined contribution of the exams and the Final exam to the course grade was the 3rd highest (out of 9 Spring sections) during 2011-2016.

High quality. I perceive the InTeGrate materials as generally superior in quality to other active learning lecture replacement materials that I have obtained from SERC and other sources. I perceived implementation of large parts of Mineral Resources Units 1, 2, 4, and 5 as successful. I also perceived implementation of parts of the two transform boundary units in Living on the Edge as successful. Implementation of Unit 5 of Environmental Justice and Freshwater Resources addressed groundwater concepts that I would have to teach anyway. Also, video accounts of the Love Canal confrontations between residents and the government resonated with some students because of their interest in contemporary instances of citizen/government conflict (e.g., the confrontation at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon during Spring 2016). I implemented most of the Hurricane unit and some El Nino/La Nina content from Climate of Change, increasing greatly the amount of atmosphere active learning in my section of introductory Earth science.

Modifications. I made a few changes. For example, I added scaffolding to the concept map exercise in Activity Option 2.2 of the Mineral Resources Module. I did this because, based on my experience as a teacher, many general studies students would struggle with this exercise. In particular, I thought that, without additional help, students would create (a) something that wasn't really a concept map, (b) something much simpler and less accurate, or (c) both. To scaffold the exercise, I modified the answer key concept map to turn parts of it into multiple choice questions. I provided the modified key to the students, and, after completing the concept map, they used clickers to share their responses and thereby enable a class discussion of the correct answers.

Bottom line. InTeGrate materials are high-quality lecture replacement materials. I highly recommend them for use in a flipped-instruction format. Allow more time for their use than is indicated in the materials. Consider replacing or supplementing some InTeGrate assessment questions with multiple choice and true/false questions of your own creation.

Judith Iriarte-Gross, Middle Tennessee State University

Course(s): PSCI 1130/1131 Honors Contemporary Issues in Science for non-STEM majors

A Success Story in Programmatic Change

I am a chemistry professor so I made sure that I read over the Natural Hazards materials before introducing them to my students. The website with the teachers guides was very helpful. Both the students and I struggled somewhat over the directions but after team and/or class discussion, we reached an understanding.

Incorporating InTeGrate Materials

I taught the Natural Hazards module in my Spring 2016 SENCER class. We worked our way through the three units as scheduled in the instructor's notes and directions (which were very helpful!). I allowed the students to self-select their teams which over the course of the semester, built a stronger classroom community. My Spring 2016 students were all Honors College students, however, the majority were non-STEM majors.

Students were particularly interested to learn about natural hazards that impacted Tennessee. Unit 1 materials provided us with the opportunity to discuss hazards that we have observed or heard about on the news. The students were excited to be able to collect authentic data using the Natural Hazards Survey in Unit 2. Time was spent on approaches to survey data analysis and how to synthesize results. The class was ready to "translate the message" about natural hazards in Tennessee. They were given the freedom to identify the top three natural hazards as well as the stakeholders. I was impressed by their thoughtful stakeholder choices which ranged from K-12 schools to hospitals to schools for the deaf and nursing homes. The Natural Hazards module was perfect for making the class project place based.


The only adaptation was to give more time on my part so that I could convey the material to my class. Teacher materials on the website were very helpful. I also was able to adjust my activity period (lab) so that the students have time to work in teams on their InTeGrate Natural Hazards project.

Outcomes and Evidence

  1. I asked the top two students in my class to present their Natural Hazards work in poster format on November 19, 2016, at the 2016 Tennessee Academy of Science. They plan to submit their abstract to attend the "Posters at the State Capitol" event in February 2017.
  2. Students in my spring 2016 class also participated in an experiential learning project which focused on sustainability and the impact that energy use has on the environment. They choose a superhero, conducted research and identified a hands-on demonstration that they would present to 5th graders at a local elementary school. These demonstrations focused on energy. For example, the Superman Team, discussed solar energy and showed the students how to build solar ovens out of pizza boxes. The Avengers team discussed UV radiation and had the children make zipper pulls using UV sensitive beads. The class also collected food for the campus food pantry.
  3. I offered my SENCER class again with a focus on sustainability, energy and its impact on the environment in Fall 2016. We again prepared a superhero project and presented it to 47 5th grade students who visited our new Science Building. This class was part of a learning community as well (science and communications) and was the first time that we offered this as not only an Experiential Learning course, but also an MT Engage course. The students wrote several "reflective" papers on such topics as air pollution, ozone depletion, global climate change (where I used some InTeGrate materials) and coal versus nuclear.
    Use of InTeGrate materials in my class does seem to increase student engagement!
  4. I was not planning to attend the 2016 SENCER Summer Institute (SSI) due to unexpected health issues. However, approximately 10 days before the 2016 SSI, I received a call from SENCER Deputy Executive Director, Danielle Kraus Tarka, who invited me to attend the awards dinner because I was the 2016 recipient of the Bennett Award! I was asked to present a brief talk on the work that I do with my SENCER classes which focus on energy and sustainability and for my advocacy for encouraging and supporting girls and women in STEM. http://www.sencer.net/About/bennettaward.cfm