Faculty Reflections and Stories:
Part of the InTeGrate Grand Valley State University Program Model
Value of Working Collaboratively
Amber Kumpf, Muskegon Community College
Strengthening relationships among the geology departments at Grand Valley State University (GVSU), Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), and Muskegon Community College (MCC) has been an extremely valuable experience for me. I am the sole full-time geology instructor at MCC and would otherwise have little support for subject-specific curriculum development. I always leave our meetings with a renewed sense of purpose and inspiration to implement new instructional techniques or course content. Not only that, but I feel as though I am also able to share the techniques and projects that have been successful for me.
Throughout our time working together, we have focused on building pathways and partnerships for our students. My students have benefited greatly from joint field experiences, during which they were able to interact with geology students and professors from GVSU and GRCC. This begins to build a network of like-interested peers and mentors, that can provide my students guidance and advice for the years beyond their time at MCC. Perhaps the value is best described by the students themselves:
"Field trips... are a great way to show students about the world around them in a realistic and hard-hitting way, and will affect them greatly. Unlike a textbook, field study gives eager students the unique opportunity of seeing with their own eyes the items they studied in class. It especially excited me to be in the presence of intelligent professors, masters in the field of geology, and to be able to follow along and comprehend what they were talking about. I could create connections and build from what I already learned about in class. It helped to make me feel a bigger connection to the subject, and it was also great being able to connect with other people who have the same fascination with rocks as I do. I think that field excursions are quite necessary in order to truly understand a subject, especially within the science community. Realizing that rock formations and the strange things that the Earth makes isn't just some page in a book, and that these things happening are real, is quite sobering to me. It also made me see all the doors that I could open if I chose this field of study as a profession."
Tari Mattox, Grand Rapids Community College
Over the past two years, I have worked with GVSU and MCC geology professors as part of the InTeGrate Grant. We met and discussed teaching methods and planned and ran several field trips together. Both I and my students benefited from interacting with professors and students from other 2 and 4-year institutions. Our collaboration allowed the professors to share content and teaching methods, strengthening the connection between our respective geology courses. The interaction between community college and university students had a positive effect, increasing their mutual respect for each other's learning pathway. The experience also improved community college students' confidence and preparedness for 4-year programs in geology and geoscience education.
Working Collaboratively to Build New Science Method Courses
Stephen Rybczynski, Biology, GVSU
In the continuing process of developing SCI 450, I have begun planning the first lesson integrating Earth and life science. The focus of this introduction to the topic centers on the evolution of the early atmosphere. Students will explore data in the form of the Gunflint formation fossils and banded jasper formations to elucidate the chronology of oxygenic photosynthesis and oxidative respiration. Our research of the literature on biogeochemical cycling has brought Falkowski's (2015) "Life's Engines: How microbes made Earth habitable" to light and I am presently reading the text as a possible instructional resource for the course.
Deborah Herrington, Chemistry, GVSU
As the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), promote a more holistic understanding of science through the integration of core concepts of the discipline, science and engineering process, and crosscutting concepts, we believe that it is important to help our students, pre-service high school science teachers, better understand the interdisciplinary nature of science and how these crosscutting concepts can be incorporated into science lessons and units. This has resulted in not only a revision of our science methods courses, but also the rubric that we use to evaluate the lesson plans that students develop in these courses. To develop the rubric we started with our original integrated science lesson plan rubric and used the EQuIP (Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products) Rubric for Lessons & Units: Science which was designed to determine the alignment of science lessons and units with NGSS (Achieve, 2014) and the framework presented by Golding (2009) for assessing the levels of interdisciplinary understanding and engagement to identify areas where integration could be incorporated. The revisions to the rubric largely focused on revising the 5E elements (engage, explore, explain, evaluate and elaborate) of the lesson plan rubric to include integration of the Science and Engineering Practices, Cross Cutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas from the NGSS, and incorporation of Golding's framework into the Interdisciplinary Components part of the rubric. Once the initial revisions were made, the rubric was sent to the entire Integrated Science faculty for comments and revision.
Achieve (2014). Educators Evaluation the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) Rubric for Lessons & Units: Science. Accessed May 19, 2014 from: http://www.nextgenscience.org/equip-rubric-science-released
Golding, C. (2009). Integrating the disciplines: Successful interdisciplinary subjects. Accessed May, 19. 2014 from: https://gened.psu.edu/sites/default/files/docs/LOA%20-%20InterdisciplinaryCourse_HowToGuide-Gooding.pdf
Angie Slater, Chemistry, GVSU
The Chemistry 419 course was modified during the Winter Semester of 2016 to begin to more closely align to the Science 440 syllabus that was created during the Summer of 2015. The biggest adjustment was that the course was much more focused on NGSS than was previously. There were a few readings that led to this change in focus. The first day reading was Dorothy Gabel's "Improving Teaching and Learning through Chemistry Education Research: A look to the Future." This was a good overview of chemistry education research, which got the students to be thinking about research-based practices and allowed for an easier discussion about the "why" behind the change to NGSS. A few weeks into the class, we read two chapters from Roger Bybee's book "Translating the NGSS for classroom instruction." In small groups, the student's unpacked an NGSS performance expectation, wrote objectives for a unit that would provide the knowledge and skills necessary to accomplish this standard, then students chose a small set of objectives from this list that they would use for writing their lesson. They developed a lesson that was in sequence with their partner(s). Replacing the previous "assessment assignment," students developed assessment items that aligned with their objectives, received peer feedback on these, and would eventually use them in their lesson plan. The final big change was a replacement of the previous "technology assignment." Students modified a Phet simulation activity that they found online to be more inquiry-based. They could choose a simulation that was related to their lesson plan topic and use it as part of their lesson plan if it aligned. They evaluated the original activity and their modified activity using a rubric adapted from Inquiry and the National Science Education Standard. Overall, these changes seemed to be beneficial to the students and almost all assignments were leading to the end goal/final project of a complete lesson plan. I think this helped students see the purpose of each assignment and also gave them some valuable skills and knowledge of NGSS, which even many veteran teachers in Michigan are uncomfortable with right now.
Steve Mattox, Geology, GVSU
I continue to work with our Department Head, Janet Vigna, to advance our two new course proposals and the new program proposal with the University Curriculum Committee. We have made the revisions the committee requested and the should be formally approved in the Fall 2016.
I am meeting with biologist Steve Rybczynski to continue our course design for SCI 450, Earth and Life Sciences for the Secondary Science. We are focused on modeling the integration of biology and Earth science to teach the seven fundamental revolutions in Earth history. Our main focus is early Earth history, about the first billion years, with evidence for timing and major biological events. We are using Revolutions That Made the Earth as major resources. He is working on the biological revolution and I am developing activities about early Earth history coeval with changes in life. We are also writing a lesson to connect the biomass pyramid of aquatic ecosystems to El Nino events. I plan to use components of the SERC InTeGrate modules in the course to introduce the students to the resources, this format of an inquiry-based lesson, and SERC as a resource.
All group members met to discuss the modest changes made to the CHM 419 Chemistry for Secondary Education class in winter 2016. Angie Slater taught the course. She introduced some of the changes planned for new SCI 440 class. Her comments are above.
We reviewed the GVSU Integrated Science Lesson Plan Rubric that Deborah Herrington prepare. I made additional comments and it has been sent to faculty in the Integrated Science department. This should be implemented in fall 2016.
Keith Oliver, Physics, GVSU
The conversations across the disciplines as we have developed new materials have been quite helpful. I look forward to seeing science 440 taught in the fall. I think it will benefit our secondary science teachers immensely. Furthermore I can use some of the materials developed in our elementary teaching program capstone course.