Subawards 2013

NCSCE Awards Twenty Eight Grants to Support Increased STEM Engagement, Learning Gains, and Professional Development

The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement recently granted twenty-eight SSI 2013 Post-Institute Implementation Awards to support weekend workshops, faculty development seminars, pilot programs, and course and course curriculum redesign in two and four year colleges and universities throughout the country. Several proposals address new areas of interest for SENCER and NCSCE, as our community grows and thrives. These proposals were selected following a competitive review process and represent exciting new ways to connect civic issues with STEM course and program content.

The SENCER-NSF sub-awards are designed to support innovative projects that focus on incorporating SENCER Ideals in undergraduate and graduate programs. The proposed projects will address multiple issues ranging from food supply and nutrition to energy security, effects of climate change on local communities, ecosystems, global sustainability, and citizenship. Many awardees will not only work within their respective institutions, but also with local communities, nonprofits, museums, artists, other institutions of higher learning and prison systems to incorporate SENCER-based learning in their curriculum.

Arkansas State University
Dr. John M. Pratte, Dean, College of Sciences and Mathematics

The College of Sciences and Mathematics has experienced an increase in the number of STEM students applying what they are learning to community issues outside of classroom activities as a result of past SENCER involvement. A great example is the formation of a new student group this year, the Natural History Collection (NHC) group, devoted to creating and preserving natural history collections. This group is working on several community projects, such as the creation of a digital herbarium collection for the Master Gardeners program and the mounting, cataloging, displaying, digitizing of animal collections for the local museum and researchers online. The NHC group has enlisted a group of computer science students to aid them, and will soon be working on a project to preserve, catalog, and create a digital database of local rural cemeteries with one of our anthropology faculty.

This semester, the College has created the Science Mathematics Advising, Retention, and Tracking (SMART) Center that, along with its other roles, will serve as an umbrella organization for student enrichment and enhancement activities. One of the goals is to make these early NHC group ventures a success and to be used as a model for other student groups to get involved with civic issues. To this end, the College is also funding an Assistant Curator of Collections position to work with the students on their projects.

The subaward will support the group’s work on these projects, in particular, supplies (specimen and collection jars, ethanol, etc.), documentation hardware and software (camera, hard drives, categorization software), and travel to visit gravesite field sites and to attend conferences. These funds will be matched by funding from the College of Sciences and Mathematics to pay for the Assistant Curator, computers, and conference travel.

Auburn University
Dr. Ann Knipschild, Professor, Music Department

The purpose of this project is to incorporate SENCER Ideals into two courses that will be used as a demonstration model for colleagues across the Southeast. It is designed to attract and engage students in a STEM-oriented civic engagement research project that will be included in courses offered in the Auburn University College of Liberal Arts (CLA).

Current research demonstrates that exposure to music can affect the release of human stress hormones pre and post exposure. The team proposes to design a project that will involve undergraduate students in an experiential learning-based civic engagement research project with the objective of increasing their interest in science. The experience should provide them with a deeper understanding of research methodology, physiology, the neuroscience of music, and how music can be incorporated in healthcare settings to help create positive health outcomes.

Since music is culturally understood by all peoples across all ages, it can be an effective tool for attracting students to STEM-related fields early in their undergraduate education. The project will introduce students to skills and knowledge that can be applied across numerous STEM-related fields such as healthcare, engineering, nursing, public health, etc. This project will be central to a new Music and Science course that will become part of the Liberal Arts core curriculum. It will be also integrated into the innovative Design Thinking for Healthcare course that is currently being developed in consultation with the Mayo Clinic and Stanford University’s IDEO lab.

Students in both classes will learn about and use experimental research design to study the effect of different types of music on human subjects by measuring the physiological effects on the neurological system using galvanized skin tests. Students will work with qualified professors in interdisciplinary teams to apply the results of the physiological testing to the design of healthcare settings.

Barnard College, Columbia University
Dr. Peter Bower, Senior Lecturer, Department of Environmental Science

Brownfield Action (BA) is a web based, interactive, three dimensional digital space and learning simulation in which students form geotechnical consulting companies and work collaboratively to explore and solve problems in environmental forensics. Brownfield Action (BA) was selected in 2003 as a “national model curriculum” by SENCER.

The subaward will support a Brownfield Action Weekend Workshop in the spring of 2014 devoted to building an online educational version of the Brownfield Action curriculum to be used in both the professional hydrogeologic, brownfield, and Environmental Site Assessment communities, as well as in undergraduate non-science major curricula. Experience using online educational tools already exists within the SENCER Team. The workshop will also utilize the expertise of the Columbia University’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning. Another workshop goal will be to develop a SENCER-SALG (Student Assessment of Learning Goals) for use in the BA community of practice. Experience with SALG already exists within the SENCER Team and it is important that this evaluation tool become standard with the use of BA. In addition, Barnard College will match 50 percent of the funds provided by the Post-Institute Implementation Award program.

Brooklyn College
Dr. Jennifer D. Adams, Associate Professor, Department of Secondary Education
Dr. Brett Branco, Assistant Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences Department
Mr. Dan Meharg, Park Ranger, National Park Service

The implementation grant will support the development and implementation of curriculum modules, including monitoring protocols and civic action in Brooklyn College’s undergraduate STEM, and pre-service teacher general science courses. An Undergraduate Stewardship Liaison (USL) will be appointed to work with Gateway and Brooklyn College to ensure that the civic engagement goals of the project are meaningfully implemented in the undergraduate courses, and to support a formal relationship between the partners. The USL will work closely with Gateway and Brooklyn College faculty to research and compile possible civic actions in relation to Jamaica Bay shoreline monitoring, including gathering contact information for relevant governmental and non-governmental agencies that engage in civic action, and assist in making initial contact with these organizations to identify possible projects and/or actions that could connect with the goals of the Sentinels project and be a meaningful experience for undergraduate students. The USL will work closely with Gateway to create sustainable structures ensuring effective management of the activities that will take place within the boundaries of the park, including access to the shoreline for data collection and place-based civic actions.

The team aims to pilot the modules in Fall 2014. This course is a general education Earth Science course that has recently been revised to include student driven research on relevant environmental issues in urban environments. The content of the research modules have yet to be developed, and the team intends to use this implementation to incorporate the Sentinels program into this new format. The USL will play a key support role in the development of these modules by working with the Sentinels team, including the teachers, to pilot test developed protocols and civic actions. Once the modules have been developed for the course, they can be adapted to the General Science courses for pre-service teachers at Brooklyn College. The USL will also assist with the evaluation process to assess if the modules and civic actions were successfully implemented in the courses and identify areas that need strengthening.

Freed-Hardeman University
Dr. Rachel Stevens Salmon, Assistant Professor of Biology, Department of Biological, Physical, and Human Sciences

Cell Biology (BIO 205) is a required course for biology majors (B.S. and B.A.) at Freed-Hardeman University. The department began offering this class in Spring 2013 to better prepare students for upper-level cell biology and genetics courses. Two instructors currently teach the course, Dr. Rachel Stevens Salmon and Dr. Caleb Kersey. The Department plans to modify course curriculum to embrace the SENCER Ideals through this funding.

The team believes that the necessary content of an introductory cell biology class can be taught through contrasting normal cell biology with cancer cell biology and intends to use this content framework to design a course that transforms students into informed advocates for cancer research. In order to do this, the department has set four goals for students. By the end of the course the students should be able to:

  • Master the scientific content.
  • Perform cell-based assays to measure DNA damage.
  • Evaluate medical research in scientific literature and at St. Jude Hospital.
  • Be empowered to educate fellow students about the need for cancer research and work toward raising funds to support research.

Teaching the concepts of cell biology in the context of cancer and medical research will encourage students to take ownership of their role in scientific communication and advocacy even at this early stage in their careers.

The course will be taught with the modified curriculum for three semesters. Student gains in content knowledge, perception of cancer therapy, perception of medical research, and perception of the student as an advocate for research will be assessed. The results of the assessment will be presented to the SENCER community through future summer institutes.

Holmes Community College
Dr. Blake Harwell, Chemistry Instructor, Natural Sciences Department

Currently, there are insufficient resources for educators who agree with the SENCER Ideals, but do not have the freedom or time to emulate a Model Series Course. Holmes Community College and Belhaven University are the only institutions with any connection to SENCER in the area. With that in mind, the institutions propose to establish a local SENCER group to recruit and collaborate with colleagues at Holmes Community College and beyond.

Holmes Community College and Belhaven University will also work with local school districts to help them implement SENCER Ideals along with their implementation of the Common Core Standards. The group will establish a discrete path or paths to SENCERize existing courses, and will create a collection of lessons that will be accessible electronically.

Hui o Moku, Hawaii
Dr. Ulla Hasager, Director of Civic Engagement for the College of Social Sciences, Ethic Studies Department

Over the next two years, Hui o Moku SENCER team’s primary goal is to develop stronger SENCERIZED transfer bridges from community colleges to universities with representatives involved in the team. This will take place on a background of outreach to additional institutions in the UH system, while the team continues to solidify and expand SENCER ideas-based networks and course development on individual campuses.

Through civic engagement initiatives, the team will continue to reach out and build pathways for all students, especially inspiring interest for the STEM disciplines among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander youth. The project will take the outset in existing STEM-focused civic engagement work taking place in the low-income immigrant community of Palolo valley and at a number of sites of importance to Native Hawaiians. Such well-established community partnerships ease inclusion of new faculty and function as model projects for further community-partner development. Ongoing activities will include mentoring for educators and students beginning with first-year active outreach lead by experienced/trained student leaders, workshops for educators and administrators, conference participation/presentations, close cooperation with community partners, and continuing tutoring and mentoring of high and middle school students – primarily through civic engagement activities, such as service learning and community-based research performed by college students from both community college and university. In addition to ongoing activities, the team will also prioritizing dissemination of research and results in this area through a variety of media/media channels and more traditional peer-reviewed academic documents, pamphlets, and web sites.

Kingsborough Community College
Dr. Anna Rozenboym, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences Department

Over the course of two years, Biological Sciences Department at Kingsborough Community College will develop and implement a framework for incorporating civic engagement, active learning, and other SENCER ideals into existing “gateway courses” that are required for Biology or Allied Health majors at Kingsborough Community College institution. The team has specifically chosen the topic of food with the emphasis being on real world issues of food acquisition, food access, food choices, geo-social issues involving food, and related healthcare aspects. Hopefully, the topic will empower the students to raise dietary health awareness at the level of their own family, their neighborhood, as well as school administrators so as to improve students’ quality of life.

As part of the project, same framework will be introduced to other faculty in the department for use in their courses, while familiarizing faculty members with SENCER by encouraging them to attend SENCER meetings. Another part of the project includes inviting speakers to the campus to discuss SENCER. Finally, the team will formally assess the effectiveness of the courses at promoting learning and civic. Analysis of these data will help the team to refine the framework and communicate team’s work to others in the SENCER community.

Lincoln University
Dr. Cheryl Renée Gooch, Dean/Professor, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

In accordance with the University’s strategic goal to aid first-year students to develop skill sets and pertinent knowledge to achieve academic success, this project is designed to improve science literacy for non-science/non-business majors using an interdisciplinary approach and civic engagement. The Lincoln University 2013 SENCER Summer Institute team consists of faculty members from education, physics, art, and mass communication who, in concert with other faculty and learning resource staff members, will develop interdisciplinary modules addressing food, health, and wellness issues for inclusion in five sections of First-Year Experience (FYE) course during the Fall 2014 semester, and five sections during the Spring 2015 semester. This experiential learning project targets 25 percent of all FYE sections offered each academic year with approximately 500 students participating during the project period covering 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years. Planning and design activities for the project will begin in December 2013.

The thematic learning objective “Understanding Current Food, Health and Wellness Issues in Your Life and Community through Analysis and Engagement,” is designed to develop the students’ skills in identifying and interpreting information and evidence. Learning activities and attendant skill development will include analysis of media framing and coverage of health/wellness issues through information and visual literacy and evaluation of formal health information sources through information literacy, community asset analysis through research and critical reasoning, and civic engagement through real-life application. Assessment measures will include pre and post awareness surveys, individual/personal histories, community asset analysis, and civic engagement report.

Lipscomb University
Dr. Ben Hutchinson , Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry

This NSF-SENCER Award will support new integrated science/SENCER courses, including a special offering at local prisons. Lipscomb University offers courses for prisoners through the LIFE (Lipscomb Initiative For Education) program, which brings traditional Lipscomb students together with “inside students.” Inmates of the Tennessee Prison for Women (TPW), Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, and Charles Bass Correctional Complex are provided an opportunity to obtain an associates degree. To complete the LIFE Associates Degree, students must take two science courses, one of which is a STEM/SENCER course being offered for the first time this semester. This offering has different needs including materials, library resources, and student/faculty support, which will be provided by the grant.

Four new integrated science courses with SALT (Service and Learning Together) and SENCER goals are being offered on the Lipscomb campus. The University plans to provide these courses with guest speaker support, demonstration, and laboratory supplies. The support will enable general education and education students to experience the power of teaching science through the integration of the disciplines as well as civic responsibility and service learning.

Miami Dade College
Dr. Colleen Ahern-Hettich, Diretor, Earth Ethics Institute

Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Earth Ethics Institute (EEI), a college-wide academic initiative addressing global citizenship and sustainability, has been leading the way in introducing and establishing SENCER at the college. This summer, EEI sent two representatives to the SENCER Summer Institute to guide Institute’s approaches in incorporating the SENCER Ideals in EEI’s Global Sustainability and Earth Literacy Studies (GSELS) Learning Network. This fall, EEI developed and offered a professional development workshop, introducing SENCER and various civic engagement opportunities available through community partners, for MDC faculty. This workshop allowed EEI to begin developing a SENCER community of practice at MDC. EEI plans to repeat the workshop in Spring 2014 to further grow SENCER community and strengthen its ties to EEI’s GSELS project.

EEI will develop a second professional development workshop with a greater emphasis on SENCER Ideals as a means to explore GSELS course criteria and introduce the SENCER Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG). In addition, this workshop will bring faculty from the first workshops together to further develop SENCER community of practice, enhance faculty collaboration across campuses and the college, and promote a richer GSELS Learning Network within MDC.

Finally, EEI will offer faculty, who participate in the two EEI SENCER professional development workshops, the opportunity to apply for one of nine implementation awards, through which faculty will make the necessary modifications in their classes in order to implement the SENCER approach in the Fall 2014 term. EEI will work with two college-wide departments: College Training and Development (CT&D) and the Institute of Civic Engagement and Democracy (iCED). Moreover, we have confirmed Miami Science Museum as a partner in this initiative and additional community partners will be included as faculty interests are identified.

Middle Tennessee State University
Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross, Professor of Chemistry and Director, Women In STEM Center, Department of Chemistry and Women In STEM (WISTEM) Center

The overarching goal of Blue Raiders Going Green: SENCERizing Introductory STEM Courses is to re-introduce and expand SENCER Ideals on the Middle Tennessee State University campus. Target audience includes MTSU educators, administrators, STEM graduate students, and STEM pre-service teachers. MTSU is home to a rapidly growing Ph.D. program in Math and Science Education (MSE) and is known throughout the state for its teacher training programs.

TN-SCORE (Tennessee Solar Conversion and Storage using Outreach, Research, and Education), is Tennessee’s first NSF EPSCOR RII Track I Award. A major goal of TN-SCORE is to improve the educational science and technology learning of Tennesseans. TN-SCORE has offered green energy and sustainability workshops to educators across Tennessee. The MTSU WISTEM Center also has a reputation of delivering comprehensive STEM programs for K-16 students and educators.

The plan is to offer at least two professional development workshops, which will re-introduce and expand SENCER ideals on the MTSU campus. These workshops will familiarize the audience with basic SENCER philosophy. Workshops will provide information on how to engage students in STEM and civic issues using green energy and sustainability as examples. The team will discuss SENCER Models and Backgrounders and present information on course redesign using Barbara Tewksbury’s work as a guide. Workshops will also provide a basic introduction on the following topics:

  • assessment using the SENCER SALG;
  • best practices in undergraduate STEM education through SENCER; and
  • how to apply for the Washington Symposium and the Summer Institute.

In addition to offering the workshops, the program plan is to invite MTSU colleagues to form a SENCER team and to attend SSI 2014 in Asheville, North Carolina, which is within driving distance from MTSU. Attendance at a SENCER Summer Institute will provide new team members with an opportunity to build on the preliminary knowledge presented at the introductory workshops on campus. At SSI 2014, new team members will see SENCER in action, learn about the diverse SENCER projects, and have the opportunity to ask questions of SENCER Leadership Fellows, Scholars, and staff. At SSI 2014, the MTSU team can begin to make plans to re-build a SENCER community on the MTSU campus. The team is proposing to use a significant amount of the requested funds to support travel for MTSU colleagues to SSI 2014.

New York City College of Technology
Dr. Urmi Ghosh-Dastidar, Department of Mathematics
Dr. Sandie Han, Department of Mathematics
Dr. Diana Samaroo, Department of Chemistry
Dr. Cinda Scott, NSF Innovation through Institutional Integration (I-Cubed) Program Manager & Coordinator of Integrated Projects in STEM
Dr. David Smith, Chair, Department of Entertainment Technology
Dr. Liana Tsenova, Biological Sciences Department 

The New York City College of Technology Prospect Park Biodiversity Project is a multi-faceted project aimed at increasing faculty interdisciplinary collaboration and enhancing student participation and learning in STEM through a civically engaged framework. Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY, with its abundance of species and eco-complexity, is presents an ideal location for STEM interdisciplinary studies.

The SENCER team, consisting of experts and educators from Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, and Entertainment Technology, will develop an educational module to examine issues ranging from bird population decline and water pollution to human impacts on biodiversity. The module will provide background knowledge, lesson plans, and exploration activities centered on Prospect Park. Ultimately, the module will be incorporated into the respective courses of the SENCER Team and in other STEM focused interdisciplinary courses. The Entertainment Technology faculty and students will produce animations and videos that will illuminate complex biological interactions in Prospect Park through in depth illustrations of how math and science relate to biodiversity issues.

The project will be piloted by the Honors and Emerging Scholars students, who will participate in the development process and assist in producing specific products. The Emerging Scholars program at City Tech is an excellent platform that affords undergraduate students the opportunity to perform research and gain a practical understanding of information learned in their courses. Upon evaluation of the results, the team will refine the module and make the final product available to all City Tech faculty and community organizations.

Dissemination efforts will include student poster presentations on their involvement and experience with the project and professional development workshops for City Tech faculty to recruit faculty to implement the module in their courses. Other dissemination efforts will include student presentations to the local community via educational programs supported by the Prospect Park Alliance, conference presentations, and publications.

North Dakota State University
Dr. Jeff Boyer, Assistant Professor of Practice, Dean’s Office, College of Science and Mathematics

The overall goal of the program is to broaden the impact of the SENCER Ideals within NDSU’s College of Science and Mathematics (CSM). Previously, a CSM team participated in SSI 2013 with the goals of revising an existing general education science course for non-majors, UNIV 150: Foundations of Science, and increasing the UNIV 150 teaching team’s knowledge of teaching practices, strategies, and techniques that engage students and promote civic engagement. Previous versions of UNIV 150 utilized a lecture-based approach that surveyed content across several science domains, including biology, chemistry, geology, physics, and psychology. Participation and interactions during SSI 2013, enabled the team to redesign the syllabus and classroom activities to promote engagement and completely revised student performance tasks for UNIV 150. Faculty members who attended SSI 2013 have shared their experiences with colleagues resulting in increased interest in the SENCER Ideals.

To broaden the impact within the College, the team plans to send additional faculty members, who teach large enrollment courses for science majors, to SSI 2014. Previous redesign effort focused on a course for non-science majors while the next effort will focus on large enrollment courses for science majors, which will impact a large number of students, especially those in STEM fields.

The secondary goal for this implementation project is to continue to refine UNIV 150 that was previously redesigned to reflect SENCER ideals. In future offerings, the plan is to integrate game-based learning as a strategy for science learning, student engagement, and civic engagement. Specifically, the plan aims to integrate “games for social change” such that students will reinforce science learning and civic engagement. In addition, students will brainstorm and design new games that promote science learning and civic engagement.

Northern Virginia Community College
Dr. Gillian Backus and Dr. Diane Mucci, Science Department

The committed, passionate teaching professionals on College’s campus often lack the opportunity to participate in cross-disciplinary faculty development due to time and budget constraints, the large number of full and part-time faculty, and numerous departmental silos.

The team plans to create a morning-long faculty workshop to share SENCER principles and encourage the incorporation of SENCER Ideals across the curriculum. Special emphases will be placed on improving cross-disciplinary collaboration and increasing the interaction between arts and the sciences, thus turning STEM into STEAM education (Science Technology, Engineering, ARTS, and Mathematics). The workshop will introduce SENCER’s main ideas via a plenary speaker session followed by breakout groups that will discuss different ways to create a more student-centered and civically-engaged classroom. The workshop will be followed by peer “coaching” opportunities that would occur throughout the fall semester between small groups of collaborative faculty.

The team will create faculty surveys using the SALG tool at salgsite.org. All participating peer “coaching” faculty would complete these on-line surveys twice during the fall semester (one early, one later) to measure their teaching/learning gains. Peer “coaches” will develop a SALG survey corresponding to the pedagogical changes implemented as a result of this SENCER workshop. Faculty will administer the SALG to their students prior to and at the end of the SENCER module. Faculty will subsequently tabulate the data and submit the analysis to the workshop organizers. The data from both the faculty and student surveys will be analyzed and disseminated to SENCER participating faculty and to faculty supervisors and presented at local and regional conferences.

The vision for this proposal is to increase awareness and practice of SENCER ideals on campus, increase cross-disciplinary collaboration, and subsequently be able to export this workshop to all five Northern Virginia Community College Campuses and other Virginia Community Colleges.

Rider University
Dr. Danielle Jacobs, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics

Rider University’s SENCER group is aware that a lack of vibrant and meaningful mathematics curricula is a serious institutional barrier to meaningful STEM education among Latino students. The team wishes to employ the SSI Post Institute Implementation Award towards overcoming that obstacle by embedding proven SENCER strategies into new and existing mathematics courses for both the Pre-College Preparation and On-Campus Training stages.

First, the team proposes to create three SENCER-integrated mathematics courses⎯Algebraic Reasoning; Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis; and Rational Numbers and Proportional Reasoning—that can be offered to students in low-income K-12 school districts as a means of preparing underrepresented, and often under-qualified, students for STEM disciplines at Rider University. It is believed that such extracurricular credit-bearing programs would also provide a conduit for recruitment of those students specifically to Rider University. Second, the team proposes to integrate SENCER ideals into three existing mathematics course required for most STEM majors⎯Algebra and Trigonometry, Calculus I, and Calculus II. These courses are not only taken by STEM-Ed majors but also by STEM majors, and would thus benefit the greater STEM population at Rider.

This proposal is fully consonant with Rider’s Strategic Plan, which aims to enhance cultural diversity among the student body, particularly to “implement a student recruitment and retention plan that increases minority enrollments.”

Riverland Community College
Dr. Mary Davenport, Vice President, Academic and Student Affairs
Ms. Nancy Christopherson, Faculty, Liberal Arts and Science Department

Riverland Community College will host a summer SENCER symposium “Making STEM Real: Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibility.” Scheduled for June, 2014, education and community partners are invited to learn about the SENCER approach to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education where connecting the science of learning to the learning of science can engage students of all ages in addressing real world problems.

The two-day symposium will introduce participants to the SENCER models of curriculum and active learning and offer opportunities to interact and partner with colleagues to improve STEM education within their institutions and communities. Plenary sessions will provide the foundation for inspirational curriculum development workshops allowing individuals or participating teams to apply SENCER principles to active learning and student learning outcome assessment strategies.

Participants will explore how they can connect classroom activities and community involvement that promote:

  • improved science learning while supporting student engagement in complex community issues, questions, problems and global solutions,
  • student engagement in challenging and rigorous scientific reasoning, inquiry, observation and measurement,
  • connections between scientific knowledge and public decision-making, policy development, and the effective global citizenship; and
  • learning across the curriculum and across levels of education to the broader community and global society.

Experienced SENCER presenters will deliver plenary sessions and be available to provide support to hands-on workshops. Workshops will be facilitated by peers, who have SENCER-ized their own curriculum. Local SENCER trained peers will provide workshop facilitation and serve as coaches for emerging SENCER practitioners and subsequent peer coaches further increasing expansion of SENCER-ized curriculum outreach.

Roosevelt University
Dr. Michael Ruth, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science

According to a series of studies by the U.S. Commerce Department, the number of STEM jobs is expected to grow approximately 17 percent compared to 9.8 percent growth for all other non-STEM occupations. However, women and minorities are underrepresented groups in these STEM fields and therefore will not be able to benefit from the higher paying positions that STEM jobs represent.

Women are the most underrepresented group in STEM fields, making up less than a quarter of the STEM workforce even though they fill approximately half of all jobs in the U.S. economy. The report also indicates that, although minorities as a percentage of the STEM workforce are comparable to population estimates, Hispanic and non-Hispanic blacks are underrepresented at the STEM degree level and in the workplace as a whole. Although there have been studies focused on these problems, several studies indicate that one of the main reasons these groups are underrepresented is that STEM courses do not align with their interests and are not relevant to their lives.

The project will focus on developing a self-sustaining STEM fair geared towards younger women and minority students in the Chicago area. The STEM fair will be interactive, fun, and will highlight the relevance of STEM majors in everyday life using hands-on activities, discussions with innovators in STEM fields with the ultimate goal of engaging these young diverse students in STEM majors to increase the diversity of STEM majors in the Chicago area.

Rutgers University
Dr. Nicholas M. Ponzio, Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

The Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, (RBHS), formed from the recent merger of the former UMDNJ and Rutgers University, is embarking on campus wide interprofessional education (IPE) initiatives. This subaward will be used to support faculty development in IPE and to facilitate creation of courses that bring together student clinicians from a wide variety of fields with the goals of improving knowledge of each other’s roles, improving communication among health providers as it relates to patient management, and increasing collaborative management of patients with varying cultures and resources.

The merger of these two great institutions will allow students from over 42 health related programs in medicine, dentistry, physician assistant program, nursing, physical therapy, medical imaging, clinical laboratory sciences, respiratory therapy, health informatics, public health, pharmacy, and basic science research to collaborate on clinical case problems based on real patient or health care delivery scenarios, thus merging medical and basic science with public needs. Opportunities also exist to integrate students from the social sciences and fine arts for contributions to patient care.

Faculty development will be accomplished through a spring 2014 symposium, in which guest faculty will be invited to share their experiences with developing and executing IPE. Course development will be part of the symposium through round tables around common themes such as ethical dilemmas in allocation of patient care resources, management of complex medical patients with challenging social histories, or identification and delivery of care for prevention of epidemic conditions (e.g. obesity, hypertension, diabetes).

Assessment of measurable outcomes will be developed and conducted in collaboration with the Rutgers Center for Teaching Advancement and Assessment Research to assess changes in student knowledge and respect for other professions, student attitudes toward collaborative management of patients, development of IPE course syllabi, and student and faculty evaluations of IPE courses.

Saint Mary’s College of California
Dr. Steven Bachofer, Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry
In May 2013, SENCER-ISE funded Facing the Future: Sharing Habitats with Wildlife—a collaborative civic engagement project between Saint Mary’s College of California and the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, which is creating models for educating the public and the Higher Education (HE) and Informal Science Education (ISE) communities about how to share habitats with wildlife. A major focus of the collaboration is to strengthen each institution’s capacity to expand their audiences. An NSF-SENCER Post Institute award will maximize dissemination of project challenges and successes in two critical ways.

First, licensing and storage will be provided for the mobile app that developed as part of the Facing the Future: Sharing Habitats with Wildlife project. These are prerequisites to launching and maintaining the app, which will ensure the ability to reach out to broad audiences during and beyond the grant period.
Second, the project PIs will attend two key national conferences where they will address both HE and ISE audiences, sharing the success of the Saint Mary’s College/Lindsay Wildlife Museum collaboration and, thus, encouraging other HE/ISE partnerships.

The Facing the Future: Sharing Habitats with Wildlife project is in full swing—both the GIS mapping at McNabney Marsh and the mobile app projects are on schedule for accomplishing their stated goals. The next key task is to communicate to the HE and ISE communities and the public about successful implementation of these two projects. An NSF-SENCER Post Institute award would help to accomplish that goal and greatly expand the impact of the project.for implementation.

To meet this goal Institute’s team will collaboratively develop a SENCER-based course, Fundamentals of Global Health, and develop and enhance existing curricular projects in Global heath with the SENCER Ideals. The team also will bring two well-regarded public health experts to campus and present a new degree program in Global Health to the WPI faculty.

Stony Brook University

Dr. Nadia Stoyanova Kennedy, Assistant Professor, Mathematics Department

The program/project is aimed at redesigning two methods courses for preservice math teachers by including a module on mathematical modeling and metamathematical reflection. These are core courses in the Undergraduate Mathematics Education Programs and the Graduate Mathematics Education Program taken by the preservice teachers in the semester preceding their student teaching semester.

The goal is to develop a module of appropriate mathematical modeling tasks, designed to engage students in mathematical modeling and to prompt reflection on a view of mathematical models, and mathematics in general, that is evaluative of the nature, power, and limitations of such models, their practical applications, and implications for individuals and society. A combination of mathematical and metamathematical perspectives can facilitate a deeper and more nuanced understanding of mathematical modeling, and mathematics per se, and of the social, ethical, and political dimensions of mathematics often invisible in society.

As part of the redesigned course, preservice teachers will be required to design thematically appropriate mathematical modeling tasks. Those tasks would be designed to engage middle or high school students in exploring relationships between mathematics and social issues, the modeling of personally meaningful situations, and reflection on the ethical and social implications of mathematical modeling.

Suffolk County Community College
Dr. Nina A. Leonhardt, Associate Dean, Department of Continuing Education

Climate change and sustainability are regular headline features in Long Island’s leading newspaper, Newsday, exposing students at Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) to these timely issues of environmental and global import. The College’s own Professor Scott Mandia, a nationally recognized climate-change expert, contributes frequently to the discussion in the media and at the College.

The SENCER team will leverage this foundation, building on faculty’s preliminary work on citizen science topics in engineering, chemistry, pre-calculus, meteorology and physical geology. The SENCER team will work with faculty to re-design courses across the curriculum based on SENCER ideals. These courses will incorporate inquiry, hands-on, and community-based activities addressing strategies to mitigate the deleterious effects of human activities on climate and the environment. Examples will be drawn from locally relevant topics, including the over-use of fertilizers, impacts of septic systems on the Island’s aquifer system, greenhouse gas sources, and the breathable atmosphere.

Students will be encouraged to participate in research projects related to these topics at Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory. These activities complement team’s work under an ongoing award from the National Science Foundation Advanced Technical Education program to develop a green energy option in engineering science and electrical technology and to infuse understanding about energy use in general education courses.

The team will share the work with colleagues at Long Island University, a large, multi-campus university serving all of Long Island, that maintains space and offers courses on two of SCCC’s three campuses. Long Island University has not been involved with the SENCER project before now and College’s close proximity is an unusual opportunity for collaboration. The SCCC SENCER team will also offer a session on SENCER as part of SCCC’s Professional Development series, as well as present a paper or poster at national and international science education forums and at SSI 2014.

Texas Woman’s University
Dr. Cynthia Maguire, Senior Lecturer, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Having been involved with SENCER since SSI 2007, Texas Woman’s University (TWU) has developed several new science courses applying SENCER Ideals. The University will use the 2013-15 post-implementation grant to fund the development of new SENCER courses in new disciplines. The goal is to specifically target courses in the arts and/or humanities. With that goal in mind, University’s team at SSI 2013 included Michelle Hays, TWU’s chair of Visual Arts. There is an already expressed interest in SENCERizing several courses from arts disciplines at TWU.

TWU’s School of the Arts encompasses dance, drama, music, and visual arts. In particular, the focus will be on the following courses, which have no prerequisites and are open to students of all majors: Dance as Public Practice; Gender, Theatre and Performance; Music and World Cultures; and Contemporary Issues in Art.

The above listed courses are ripe with potential to enhance knowledge via inclusion of important and complex public issues as vehicles to place greater value on learning disciplinary content. Civic engagement assignments will be designed to enable students to put new knowledge to work through community partnerships with local art/culture non-profit organizations, showing them the value of their education now as opposed to some hypothetical future time.

In addition to previous work developing SENCERized courses such as Introduction to Environmental Chemistry and Who Owns the Rain, TWU has created an undergraduate certificate program titled Science, Society and Sustainability. The program offers a multidisciplinary approach to sustainability, requiring students to take five upper division courses in the College of Arts and Sciences. SENCER courses in the arts could potentially be linked to the certificate increasing the appeal of such courses among students of all majors. This will be a way of reaching students who might not otherwise encounter the SENCER ideals in a classroom at TWU.

United States Military Academy
COL Gerald Kobylski, Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences
COL Kraig Sheetz, Professor, Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering

The West Point Academic Program has revised its overarching goal for the intellectual dimension to “Graduates integrate knowledge and skills from a variety of disciplines to anticipate and respond appropriately to opportunities and challenges in a changing world.” Last year, the West Point Core Interdisciplinary Team (CIT) introduced and institutionalized a program whereby freshman courses such as Chemistry, Math, English, Psychology, and Information Technology addressed the common theme of energy security throughout the curriculum.

Recently, the sophomore program introduced a common theme of energy production topics and challenges into the curriculum for courses such as Physics, Calculus, Statistics, American Politics, Economics, Philosophy, and Geography. This initiative builds upon the successes of the freshman program in terms of both addressing a national and Army strategic concern (energy) and reinforcing the habit of mind to approach solving complex problems using an interdisciplinary approach. The latter is further reinforced as students enter their major courses and directly addresses the overarching Academic Program Goal.

This grant will address the CIT’s determination that interdisciplinary efforts must be sustainable and requires minimal resources.

University of Hawaii at Manoa
Dr. Hokulani K. Aikau, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science

Despite increases in undergraduate enrollment and graduation rates at UH Mānoa, Native Hawaiian undergraduate students continue to be underrepresented at the university, comprising only 15.8 percent of the undergraduate student population, and lag behind their non-Hawaiian peers in terms of enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. The UH Mānoa (UHM) College of Social Sciences (CSS) is launching an engaged student-learning initiative intended to improve Native Hawaiian undergraduate student engagement and retention. The Native Hawaiian Leadership Initiative (NHI) takes a three-pronged approach to achieve this overarching objective:

To conduct a needs assessment of current Native Hawaiian undergraduate CSS majors.
Based on the finding from the needs assessment, the team will coordinate existing and develop new support services to meet student needs.
Through an integrated planning process based on interviews with current Native Hawaiian students, faculty colleagues, and potential community partners which will form content, format and delivery, the UHM CSS NHI team will design a two-year program that includes course work, community-based research and engagement, and peer mentoring for Native Hawaiian undergraduate CSS majors.

The two-year program, for which funding is beeing requested, draws upon the SENCER Ideals, Native Hawaiian values and principles, and social sciences theories and methods to design a new interdisciplinary and community-engaged SENCER course intended to foster understanding of how social sciences and indigenous knowledge can be integrated with STEM to address capacious problems locally and globally. The team will begin the consultation and planning process for the interdisciplinary course in spring 2014. At the 2014 SSI, the team will share and further develop the course plan enabling recruitment of the inaugural cohort in Fall 2014 and piloting of the program in the Spring and Summer of 2015.

University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley
Dr. Teresa Weglarz, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology

Service-learning exemplifies the SENCER Ideals and provides a hands-on approach to teaching giving students the opportunity to gain direct experience with civic issues and engage in efforts to analyze and solve local issues. The grant will be used to formally establish and recognize courses that include a service-learning component. The course plans and learning outcomes will be supported by recently revised institutional curriculum policies that now include SL (Service-Learning) degree designation.

The central feature of the service-learning course designation is service to others, combined with reflection upon the role of this service in community and individual life. These courses will require a minimum of 48 hours of service-learning per credit hour and will be formally designated as service-learning (SL) on course transcripts. The team has identified three courses that will be developed to serve as models of service-learning:

  • LEC 200 Sophomore Seminar – Community Wellness will be a stand-alone course that includes research and participation in a Wellness Fair for the campus community.
  • EDU 220 Education in a Pluralistic Society will be designed to prepare students to be teachers in a pluralistic society.
  • BIO 191 Environmental Science will embed service-learning in the lab portion of the course by exploring environmental issues related to food and agriculture.

SENCER-izing these courses through service-learning is a deliberate attempt to embed liberal arts into the curriculum. The development of a new, innovative University Studies Program at UW-Oshkosh has enabled us to enter a transfer partnership in which UW-Fox students, who have completed a series of approved freshman seminar and civic engagement courses, are able to transfer those courses to meet the requirements of the new UW-Oshkosh program. Therefore, the new SL courses will enhance student transfer process for approximately 48 percent of UW-Fox students, who will later transfer to UW-Oshkosh. Through formal recognition of service-learning, UW-Fox will move toward intentional inclusion of service-learning instead of optional participation.

University of Wisconsin – Whitewater
Dr. Seth Meisel, Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education

Under the common theme of “Impacts of Agricultural Practices,” the team will develop and integrate course-specific applied projects into existing two-semester introductory sequences of Biology and Chemistry and into ongoing bridge programs that target incoming minority students with an expressed interest in STEM. These additions will be designed to function as stand-alone applied projects with additional integrative and synergistic benefits, as students may have one or more courses with related projects. The projects will be designed according to SENCER principles, using a complex real-world issue of agricultural practices to explore essential scientific content.

If successful, course-specific applied projects could also be integrated into introductory math courses and upper-level STEM courses such as aquatic ecology, environmental toxicology, developmental biology, and organic evolution at instructors’ discretion. The project also envision a potential new course in which students collect and use real data on local farms or habitats to create action plans, such as providing testing services to farmers, designing education or outreach initiatives to inform consumers, retailers, citizens or politicians. This would serve not only as a capstone for upper-level STEM majors, but would also provide hands-on experiences for introductory students mentored by the upper-level students.

Through these applied projects, students will be able to identify the spheres of influence of diverse farming practices; explain and predict farming practice outcomes based on biological principles of evolution, physiology, ecology, and genetics; and explain and propose relevant effects of and tests for pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers based on chemistry principles. In addition, the projects will enable students to make informed and conscious as consumers of agricultural products.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Dr. Patricia Stapleton, Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Social Science and Policy Studies

By attending SENCER 2013 Institute’s team benefited from the specific public health-focused sessions and learned how the SENCER model aligns social, communication, and science curricular goals within a public health program. The team returned from the summer inspired to build an interdisciplinary Global Health program grounded in the SENCER model. The team consists of junior and senior faculty in science, social science, and the humanities and arts. The goal for this award is to develop a Global Health curriculum for presentation to the institution for implementation.

To meet this goal Institute’s team will collaboratively develop a SENCER-based course, Fundamentals of Global Health, and develop and enhance existing curricular projects in Global heath with the SENCER Ideals. The team also will bring two well-regarded public health experts to campus and present a new degree program in Global Health to the WPI faculty.

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