2010 Post-Institute Implementation Awards

NCSCE Funds Nineteen Projects with Post-Institute Implementation Awards

The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement will support course redesign and creation, faculty development activities, and assessment projects with SSI 2010 Post-Institute Implementation Awards. Teams from two-year and four-year colleges and universities received awards following a competitive application process. Projects will address soil quality, teacher education courses, aquatic ecosystems, oral cancer, and financial crises, among many other topics. The sub-awards, supported by SENCER’s funding from the National Science Foundation, are designed for projects developed by teams during or following participation in a SENCER Summer Institute. Teams have submitted two-year plans and will regularly report on their project progress to SENCER through an online reports system. Please read summaries of the implementation award projects below.

Arkansas State University
Richard Warby, William Burns, Earl Benjamin, Hideya Koizumi, Hashim Ali, Benjamin Rougeau

A common complaint from Arkansas State University (ASU) students is that chemistry is not relevant to their everyday lives. Addressing this concern, the ASU team proposes a multi-year project involving soil analysis of the local Jonesboro region that will engage students in their community while increasing their understanding of the connections between chemistry and their environment. In their freshman year, students will collect soil samples as part of their Freshman Year Experience class. These samples will be archived and assigned to the student who collected them for use in laboratories throughout their undergraduate studies in the chemistry department at ASU. Given Jonesboro’s location in the agriculturally-important Mississippi Delta and that many students in their program have strong ties to the local communities; soil quality is an important issue to them. The data generated during the course of the proposed project can be used to inform decisions regarding land-use and best management practices, as well as general soil quality issues in Jonesboro and the surrounding agricultural areas.

Augustana College
Dell Jenson, Bob Haak, Jon Clauss

The premise for this implementation award is to encourage and support faculty to take the first step or the next step in the topology of civic engagement (Conversation, Contact, Concentration and Collaboration). Long term change should occur when faculty see the value of civic engagement and have examples or models to follow. With the support of the Community Engagement Center (CEC) and the Augustana Teaching and Learning Center (ATLC), Augustana College will support faculty in taking steps towards engaging students in significant civic/social issues within the current Augustana General Education Studies (AGES). To that end, this team will organize a small group of faculty from several science departments to implement SENCER/civic engagement assignments and projects within existing science courses. A first step would be to bring civic engagement into the classroom with a course assignment that includes a writing component (Conversation). An example of a next step would be to have students engage with the community to investigate a local civic issue (Contact). The ideal would be for the development of a service learning project within their community (Concentration/Collaboration).

Butler University
Joseph Kirsch, Donald Braid, Meredith Beilfuss

Building on the success of past SENCER projects, Butler University seeks to implement SENCER courses throughout its whole curriculum. A primary goal of each proposed course is to engage students and community partners in thoughtful learning experiences that explore the relationships between science, civic culture, and everyday lives. Through the lens of basic principles in cell biology and genetics, the first course, Life, Death and Immortality: Henrietta Lacks and the HeLa Revolution explores the biological, medical, ethical, socio-economic, racial, and gender issues that are integral to the history of the HeLa cells. Students will engage in hands on learning both through laboratory experiences as well as with a community outreach project. In the second course, Indy Power, students study electricity production in Indianapolis, the health impacts of various sources, and the economic and legislative issues surrounding energy production. In the third proposed course, Teaching Science and Social Studies/Middle Childhood, which involves partnerships with the Indianapolis Public School system and Indianapolis Children’s Museum, Butler students are guided through classroom exploration regarding design, execution, and assessment techniques for integrated science experiments. With these three new courses, Butler University hopes to provide faculty with more models of how to SENCERize their offerings.

Christopher Newport University
Andrew Velkey, Bobbye Bartels, Lisa Webb, Denise Gillman

Building upon the success of earlier faculty development workshops on building capacity for civic science and civic research, the team from Christopher Newport University will hold two workshops on infusing the SENCER ideals into specific courses across STEM fields as well as other aspects of the liberal arts. Faculty participants will attend the initial planning workshop on course development. CNU faculty with experience at infusing SENCER ideals into their courses and/or research programs will help lead the initial workshop, and participants will develop plans for SENCER-izing a course or course components. Following this workshop, participants will compete for seed awards for implementation of their plans. Each seed award recipient will be assigned to a specific member of the CNU team or volunteers from earlier SENCER workshops, and will be led by their mentor through the implementation process of their plans. In the second workshop, recipients of these seed awards will then serve as faculty mentors for the participants in the second workshop. By scaffolding the experience level among faculty members, the team’s goal is to develop a sustainable approach to SENCER course development and the infusing of SENCER ideals into other activities such as service learning, community-based research, and undergraduate research.

Dominican University of California
Diara Spain, Elizabeth Truesdell, Sibdas Ghosh, Alexander Parker, Sage Callaway

This project is to develop a new general education science course for non-science majors. Specifically, this class will target Honors students, as there is not currently an Honors general education science class. The class is titled Aquatic Ecosystems: San Francisco Bay Area. There are four major goals of the class are: (1) acquire a holistic view of aquatic ecosystems which would include water & soil quality and plant & animal diversity, (2) understand how to gather and interpret data related to those four categories, (3) comprehend how environmental issues like sustainability, natural disasters, and invasive species affect humans then develop and implement a civic project, and (4) communicate results to the campus, local/regional/state community, and other stakeholders. The faculty involved include Dr. Diara Spain, Dr. Elizabeth Truesdell, Dr. Sibdas Ghosh, and Dr. Alexander Parker. Ms. Sage Callaway and two undergraduate students will also be on the working committee. This class will be offered in the fall 2011 semester and would repeat the following fall 2012 semester.

Florida Gulf Coast University
Douglas Spencer, David Green

Located in Fort Myers on the edge of the Western Everglades, Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is the newest public university in the state of Florida and one of the fastest growing universities in the United States. The guiding principles of FGCU promote environmental literacy and sustainability combined with commitment to civic engagement and service learning. An interdisciplinary faculty team at FGCU is employing the SENCER approach to retrofit an existing high-enrollment general education course Environmental Biology of Southwest Florida.

The redesigned course embeds geographic information systems (GIS) technology into the curriculum. Students conduct hands-on environmental mapping activities as civic engagement projects at regional environmental and informal science education (ISE) centers. The course uses emerging educational technologies such as podcasts, reusable learning objects, and tablet computers to engage students in active learning. In addition, the course targets pre-service teachers to introduce the SENCER model as a teaching method. The Whitaker Center for STEM Education at FGCU is conducting a rigorous third-party evaluation. The team participates in the southern regional SENCER Center for Innovation and formed an Advisory Board of senior members from the national SENCER community. A long-term goal is to develop a sequence of SENCERized courses at FGCU.

Indiana State University
Jim Speer, Tom Steiger, Greg Bierly, Tom Derrick, Eric Anderson

Team members will hold faculty development workshops with engaged faculty at Indiana State University with the goal of creating a sustainability minor that uses the SENCER teaching model in its classes. Their first step is to work with a core group of faculty and help them develop an interdisciplinary perspective on sustainability. They will develop this cognitive fellowship and start meeting to develop a syllabus for a course that the faculty will attend to understand all of the aspects of sustainability in the Wabash Valley. The participating faculty come from a variety of departments across campus including earth and environmental systems, economics, political science, biology, psychology, the honors program, English, technology, and business. Team members expect this process to take two full years from the process of developing this course for the faculty cognitive fellowship, revision of a grant proposal to acquire more funds to provide buy-out time for the faculty to attend this course, and finally the development of the sustainability minor at ISU that uses the SENCER teaching model in its classes. This will also provide the ground work for a larger SENCER based program in the next development of Foundational Studies (general education) for the University.

Kent State University/University of Akron
Joanne Caniglia, Lisa Donnelly, Mary Lou Holly, Aeron Choi (Kent State University), Helen Qammar, Bonnie Williams , Lynn Pachnowski, Greg Smith (University of Akron)

Do your future STEM teacher education candidates request more connections among mathematics and science content and their methods courses? The primary goal of the Kent State University/ University of Akron implementation award project is to adapt SENCER models for use in science and mathematics teacher preparation courses. These future teachers will then use the adapted SENCER courses throughout student teaching, thus implementing SENCER-like projects in grades 7-12 classrooms. In a unique collaboration between two universities and between Arts and Sciences and Colleges of Education, this partnership will allow teams of faculty to meet and to create adapted courses that have become SENCER-type courses. While celebrating and strengthening the traditional role of both Kent and Akron to nurture scholarship for its many intrinsic values, this project highlights new opportunities to apply knowledge in the service of others.

This project will promote a culture of public engagement that is interwoven with education and STEM content courses-it brings together theory and practice. Both universities will strengthen their engagement with real world issues, and to nurture these interactions as part of the educational process for teachers. To measure the degree of involvement and the increase in future teachers’ ability to integrate content and pedagogy, the team will utilize the SENCER Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG), and the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP, Horizon) for teaching. In all, more than fifty future teachers from both universities will participate in the project.

Marymount Manhattan College
Katalin Othmer, Steven Wat, Ken Ching, Phil Meyers, Lia Margolin

The mathematics faculty at Marymount Manhattan College, a small liberal arts college in New York City, will transform the introductory level Quantitative Reasoning (QR) course, taken by many students to fulfill the college’s mathematics requirement, by adopting the SENCER approach. They will develop alternative “themed” versions (sections) for students with interests in particular areas. The proposed themes are: Mathematics of Social Choice, Mathematics of Sustainability, Statistics in the Media: The Uses and Abuses of Statistics in Contemporary Debate, Mathematics of Games and Puzzles, and Mathematics of the Physical World.The team will assess and compare sections of QR that have taken the traditional QR course, sections that have taken the SENCER-ized themed course, and sections that have taken a “hybrid” course that incorporates civic issues as an application of the mathematics, rather than start from a complex issue and investigate it through the use of mathematics, as in the SENCER approach. As well as making the QR course more interesting and relevant to students, the team will investigate what makes the SENCER approach successful in mathematics – is it the incorporation of complex civic issues and linking these issues to the mathematics? Or is it the pedagogical method of motivating the mathematics by discussion of a complex civic issue? In short, is the successful approach `mathematics plus civic issue’ or `mathematics through civic issue’?

Metropolitan College of New York
Heide Hlawaty, Richard Grallo, Doru Tsaganea, Lisa Bauer

Critical thinking – both as skill development and ways of thinking – can be fostered through solving real-world problems in interdisciplinary learning situations. Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) team members seek to measure certain aspects of critical thinking in course assignments. Thus, the objectives of this project are (1) to measure specific aspects of critical thinking in STEM and non-STEM courses, (2) to gather complete critical thinking assignments with these elements measured with a rubric from participants of several semesters and (3) to collect a variety of data pertinent to illuminating aspects of critical thinking. Heide Hlawaty (chair of general education and Liberal Arts Studies) and Richard Grallo (associate professor and senior faculty of Human Services) are co-leaders for SENCER activities at MCNY. They will be joined by Professors Doru Tsaganea and Lisa Bauer. Other science and math faculty will be invited to the project based on their interests and expertise. We will encourage participant faculty to collect a variety of data relevant to critical thinking. This information would be derived from critical thinking related course assignments, development and implementation evaluations from participating faculty, focus groups with students on the topic of critical thinking, specific questions from the SALG, and evaluations of student intellectual journals focused on the activities of critical thinking.

Minneapolis Community and Technical College
Cheryl Neudauer, Laura Bursch, Edward Dillon, Irene Faass, Michael Klug, Michael Kuhne, Maire Sustacek

Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) will use its SENCER Implementation Award to expand its faculty development and social responsibility activities. Beginning November 2010, this team will convene a monthly brown bag seminar at MCTC where faculty members will share ways that civic issues are incorporated in classes at other institutions. The MCTC team will also gather feedback about their current or future classroom activities, assignments, and assessments. In 2011, a two-day faculty workshop will provide time for more focused discussions about implementation and evaluation of SENCER pedagogies. These conversations will build on prior work by SENCER participants and recent planning efforts at MCTC. There will also be funds awarded to send another faculty member to a SENCER meeting or to send a previous attendee to a conference to further develop their SENCER work. In addition, in a course required for new unlimited (“tenure track”) faculty members within this system, a unit will be developed to help them include connections to civic topics in their classes. MCTC team will design these activities to help faculty members at MCTC and sister institutions develop teaching strategies to help students apply course content to issues in their lives and communities.

New York City College of Technology
Laina Karthikeyan, Boris Gelman, Gwen Cohen- Brown, Sanjoy Chakraborty

The NYC College of Technology (NYCCT) team will initiate a pilot project in fall 2011 for a learning community to launch interdisciplinary studies. This learning community will link the oral pathology course offered by the School of Professional Studies and the nutrition and physics courses offered by the School of Arts and Sciences. The students who take the basic science courses like Nutrition and Physics will learn to make connections and the practical application of this knowledge gained, outside the natural sciences. A topic of special interest is the oral cancer epidemic: a victim of oral cancer dies every hour in the US and early diagnosis is associated with better prognosis. The Dental Hygiene Clinic at NYCCT provides an ideal environment to further this goal by exposing students to new medical technologies utilized in the assessment of oral cancer. The nutrition, physics and oral pathology courses will be team taught. The physics component will cover topics in medical technology and health physics including foundation of X-ray physics, radiation therapy, basics of MRI, and optics. Students will understand the impact of nutrition in oral health and the dental hygiene students will in turn conduct oral cancer screenings, thus creating civic engagement outcomes for students.

Normandale Community College
Tony Dunlop, Victor Padron, Mary Daunis, Xiaosheng Li, Tina Wade

Normandale Community College will develop a three-credit general education mathematics course centered on civic issues. Local and state resources will be used to relate mathematics to various problems. Possible topics include air and water quality (pollution, groundwater, flood control); economic concerns (debt, gambling, wages and poverty, health care costs, taxation and fiscal policy); social and demographic concerns (educational opportunities and benefits, voting and elections, ethnic populations and immigration); energy concerns (biofuels vs. fossil fuels, energy demand vs. supply, traffic management and fuel efficiency); biological and ecological concerns (invasive species, population dynamics, wildlife/natural resource management);medical concerns (epidemiology, epidemic spread and control).

The desired mathematical outcomes include: representation of functions graphically, numerically, verbally and formulaically, dependent vs. independent variables, rates of change, modeling with linear, quadratic, reciprocal, exponential, and logistic functions distinction between relative and absolute change (and rates of change), concentrations and densities, basic descriptive statistics and probability. The course will be piloted as a section of Mathematics for the Liberal Arts in fall 2011, with a focus on water, energy, and ecological issues. Eventually, the section will evolve into a separate course, with topics chosen from the above list at the instructor’s discretion.

Roosevelt University
Barbara Gonzalez, Jie Yu

Roosevelt University is a national leader in educating socially conscious citizens for active and dedicated lives as leaders in their professions and their communities. With this implementation award, Dr. Barbara Gonzalez and Dr. Jie Yu will redesign the financial mathematics course (ACSC/MATH 367) to include a civic engagement component. The class will participate in a semester-long group project involving social issues. The students will work in groups of three or four students. After successfully completing this course, the students will be able to apply financial mathematics concepts and skills to real world problems that have a social impact in their community or in the world at large. They will also be able to get answers to specific questions related to the subprime crisis, foreclosure and other financial issues, and they will learn how to use these answers to impact society. Beyond the capacity to solve mathematical problems, they will be able to communicate their findings clearly, both verbally and in writing, and to explain the mathematical reasoning behind their conclusions.

Southern Connecticut State University
Winnie Yu

The objective of this implementation award is to bring the SENCER teaching approach to the broader Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) faculty community by introducing the model at a time of Liberal Education Program course design and development. With SCSU in the height of this major program reform, this project will organize a symposium where SENCER leaders are invited to campus to host faculty workshops. Subsequent discussions within each area of the Liberal Education Program will be led by SENCER faculty alumni. The funding from this proposal, together with SCSU resources, will serve as incentives to promote SENCER course development. The project will be housed under SCSU’s Center for Excellence in Mathematics and Sciences and will serve as an initiative to maintain an ongoing discussion on SENCER and course improvement. The long term and broader impact is to extend the SENCER model beyond science and mathematics education into the Liberal Education Program and eventually into upper level courses. To monitor effectiveness, there will be assessment efforts along each project related activities. Faculty workshops will be assessed through evaluation surveys. New courses will conduct SENCER-SALG and other course evaluations. Future findings will be disseminated through SENCER national and regional meetings.

University of Connecticut
Cathleen Love

The team of University Extension Professionals who attended the SENCER Summer Institute will offer select faculty in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources the opportunity to work together to create ways to infuse civic engagement into the undergraduate curriculum. Participants will meet once a month for the fall and spring semester for three hours for professional development which focuses on civic engagement as a pedagogy and to brainstorm ideas of how to infuse it into their courses. The University of Connecticut and the Colleges have experts on civic engagement and experienced students who will provide guidance to faculty engaged in this project. The College will provide space and funding for a meal during each three hour session. Each faculty member who participates will be given funds to purchase materials that are specific to how to infuse civic engagement into their course. Faculty will agree to change their syllabus to include civic engagement in their course by the spring of 2011. Funds will be available from the Dean’s office so that participating faculty who are interested can attend the 2011 SENCER Summer Institute where the results of this work will be shared.

University of Dayton
Rex Berney, Dale Courte, Carl Friese, David Johnson, Mark Masthay, Allen McGrew, Jayne Robinson, Jennifer Seitzer, Todd Smith, Don Pair

In April 2010, the University of Dayton (UD) approved a new Common Academic Program (CAP). Three of the primary distinctive elements of CAP include: (1) constructing a developmental curriculum over the four years of students’ course of study; (2) placing an emphasis on integrative, inquiry-based learning, with an aim to connect required CAP components more intentionally with requirements in students’ majors; and (3) promoting Catholic and Marianist traditions of education more clearly. The passage of CAP presents UD science departments with an opportunity to promote and disseminate the ideals of SENCER, create new and renovate existing courses across the sciences, and to develop and pilot a new SENCER influenced sequence of courses for non-science students. These courses would intentionally reflect and align in particular with CAP’s practical wisdom and critical evaluation of our times student learning outcomes. The subaward will support faculty involved in curriculum development for these courses. This will take place through the creation of a community of practice comprised of faculty, other UD researchers, members of UD’s Learning Teaching Center, and especially students. This group will be convened in the late fall and work throughout the academic year and coming summer.

University of North Carolina at Asheville
Sally Wasileski, Jason Wingert, Amy Lanou, Leah Matthews, Karin Peterson, Ellen Bailey, David Clarke

SENCER funding will be used to continue and expand assessment of the University of North Carolina at Asheville’s Food Cluster (Food for Thought: Engaging the Citizen in the Science and Politics of Food Information, Food Consumerism, Nutrition and Health). In this cluster, faculty from natural science (chemistry and biology), social science (economics, health and wellness promotion, and sociology), and humanities (Spanish) departments teach a set of courses with food as an example of how the contributions of different disciplines can foster civic engagement and provide important depth and context to undergraduate education. One unique feature of the Food Cluster at UNCA is the cross-course project, wherein all students enrolled in courses in the Food Cluster each semester participate in a project involving students from the other courses. The team has submitted a manuscript for publication that presents an analysis of data that assesses the effect of these cross-course projects on student learning. They will use SENCER funding to expand this work on assessment by refining their entrance and exit surveys and tracking student responses as they progress semester by semester through the Food Cluster.

Wofford College
Anne Catlla, Ellen Goldey, Kaye Savage, Steven Zides

Wofford College will offer a series of workshops to support faculty members’ efforts to incorporate civic engagement into their classes. Each faculty participant will select a student with whom they will partner in the process of SENCERizing a course. In the workshops, each professor-student team will share their ideas and progress regarding one of their courses with two other teams (ideally from different disciplines), and thus gather formative feedback on their ideas. The Director of School and District Partnerships for Spartanburg School District 7 has agreed to attend the workshops to assist faculty who would like to connect their classes with the district’s needs. This series of workshops reflects an interest that has been growing across campus to incorporate civic engagement and consideration of questions of social importance into courses, bringing these like-minded professors together in a community of practice.

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