Initial Publication Date: December 1, 2016

Improving Teaching and Learning

Part of the InTeGrate Grand Valley State University Program Model

Courses and Materials
Developed by the Project »

Impact on Teaching and Learning

Impact 1: Faculty in the program grew through the sharing and discussion of content knowledge, pedagogy, and expectations of our students.

In addition to the eight faculty directly involved with the project, the program extended beyond the original group to include three more faculty at GVSU (one biology, one physics, one geology) that joined in discussions and three more geology faculty from our 2YC partners (2 GRCC and one MCC) that attended meetings and on field trips. All faculty in the GVSU Integrated Science program reviewed and approved of the new major and two new courses. We achieved a new, deeper level of understanding of what we do in our courses and our expectations for our students.

Impact 2: Curriculum designed to increase representation of all disciplines in the science methods courses.

Our curriculum lacked a biology methods course and a physics methods course. In 2017, in secondary science we have 42 biology, 12 chemistry, 9 Earth science and 2 physics majors. The biology and physics majors are better served by their inclusion in the new courses.

Impact 3: Increased student access to faculty and faculty access to students.

In the past, motivated biology students seeking an undergraduate project might not see a biology education researcher until their final, hectic year in the College of Education (ED 331 course). Some of these excellent students collaborated with a geology professor to write a science education article or present at a professional meeting. Likewise, biology science education faculty had limited access to biology secondary education students for potential collaborative research. The presence of the biology faculty in the life-Earth science methods course and the influence of physics on the chemistry-physics methods course generated new opportunities.

Impact 4: Routine sharing of best practices between 2YCs and GVSU.

We gained a better understanding of the courses offered by our community college partners, gaining insights from their teaching, and sharing in the development and running of field trips.

Faculty Reflections provide the best evidence of the impact of this program.

Supporting Faculty Change

It was easy to get faculty onboard. We recognized the need to revise the Integrated Science endorsement and the creation of a new comprehensive Integrated Science major was discussed and determined to be the best course of action. We were supported by unit heads and our Dean. Much of the curriculum and justification for the Program Change Proposal (PCP) was determined during fortnightly faculty meetings and written by our program director, Dr. Janet Vigna. Faculty reviewed and revised the PCP and approved the document prior to submitting it for the curriculum review process. Faculty received updates on the status of the proposal as it progressed and during our regular meetings. Additional documentation was supplied as needed.

The InTeGrate grant provided the impetus for faculty to meet in small groups (2-5 faculty) to redesign two existing courses. Commonly, two faculty (Slater, Mattox) organized and facilitated the meetings. Syllabus of Record and New Course Proposals were crafted, shared with all faculty in the Integrated Science program (10-11 faculty attend fortnightly or monthly meetings), approved and forwarded to the college and university curriculum committees. InTeGrate modules were considered for inclusion in these meetings. The small groups meet and worked primarily in the spring and summer when faculty schedules were more open.

Likewise, we recognized the need to support transfer students and to better communicate with our 2YC partners. Both 2YCs had new hires and were eager to collaborate. Initial meetings were half day and face to face. We meet each semester at GVSU or GRCC. We discussed and addressed the need for transfer agreements (which have been completed and are now used to advise majors), pedagogy, teaching materials (GRCC received a seismometer and built an Augmented Topography Table) and planned and carried out two different two-day field trips (which are now routine). Three additional 2YC faculty beyond the original faculty on the project joined in these activities. Our peers are invited to seminars and external speakers and our partner at MCC provided a guest lecture during Earth Science Week.