SSI 2015 Post-Institute Implementation Awards

NCSCE Grants 25 Implementation Awards for Projects that Reform STEM Education, Increase Community Engagement, and Build Civic Capacity

The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement awarded 25 SENCER Summer Institute 2014 Post-Institute Implementation Awards that promote student engagement with STEM education, civic issues, and community outreach. The Implementation Awards, made possible through SENCER’s grant from the National Science Foundation, are designed to support innovative projects that incorporate the SENCER Ideals into undergraduate and graduate education.

The 2014 awards sponsor projects that make STEM more accessible to women, minorities, and students in small, rural schools; reform institutional core curricula to broaden the scope of central, civic issues; and involve students in community-based research. Project themes include Mars exploration, sustainability and urbanization, stormwater runoff, assisted reproductive technologies, genetically modified organisms, the history and practice of science, and more.

Executive summaries for the funded projects are listed below. Project leaders’ names are listed directly below the names of the institutions, with project collaborators following in alphabetical order. These projects were selected following a competitive review process.

Auburn University
Dr. Stacey Nickson, Director K-12 Outreach, Office of the Vice President for University Outreach
Dr. Giovanna Summerfield, Associate Dean for Educational Affairs (responsible in the College of Liberal Arts for outreach, international affairs, and the Minors in Africana Studies, Community and Civic Engagement, and Women’s Studies)
Dr. Ken Thomas, Honors Lecturer in Biosystems Engineering, Specialist in Sustainability and Civic Engagement

The purpose of this project is to incorporate the SENCER Ideals into a college-prep math program that will serve as a demonstration for colleagues and K-12 teachers in the Southeast. The project is designed to engage rising high school seniors participating in a pre-calculus preparedness summer camp through the integration of SENCER methods. The pre-calculus summer camp is designed to introduce students to civic issues associated with sustainability in order to prepare students to pass the math placement exam at Auburn University, allowing them access to dual enrollment via “Math 1120” (college level pre-calculus course) on a scholarship basis.

Research using a National Education Longitudinal Study data set showed that 75% of eighth graders expressing an interest in STEM careers changed to a non-STEM goal only six years later. Students maintaining an interest in STEM careers tended to have more self-confidence in their ability to learn math and were more likely to be male. Other research has shown gender and ethnic differences. Males, Asians, and whites display higher levels of math and science achievement as early as middle school, while women and many ethnic minorities have been shown to abandon STEM majors in college.

The pre-calculus preparedness summer camp is designed to provide underrepresented students with a successful math experience to give them the skills and self-efficacy necessary to earn placement in “Math 1120” at Auburn University and successfully pass the course the following semester. The SENCER approach will allow faculty to develop and deliver the pre-calculus curriculum in the context of civic issues associated with sustainability to provide real world application that is relevant and meaningful for students. The proposed curriculum will also rely on the work established through the Engaging Mathematics initiative’s “Mathematics of Sustainability” (Metropolitan State University) course. The theme of sustainability will be approached from an environmental, social, and economic perspective as appropriate. Some of the topics that may be explored include global water issues in supply and quality, natural resource conservation, waste management, and sustainability service. Some mathematical concepts covered will include arithmetic of rational numbers, operations with algebraic expressions, linear equations and inequalities, factoring and algebraic fractions, exponents and radicals, graphing and distance, fractional and quadratic equations and inequalities, logarithms, functions, complex numbers, absolute values, and systems of equations. The expected result will be the students’ ability to make decisions about practical problems, articulated in mathematical terms. We intend to expand this program to other schools in the east Alabama districts.

Barnard College
Dr. Peter Bower, Professor, Environmental Science
Dr. Saugata Datta, Associate Professor, Chemical Hydrogeology and Environmental Geochemistry, Department of Geology, Kansas State University
Ms. Tamara Graham, Low Impact Development Instructor, Natural Resources Management Department, Haywood Community College
Dr. Joe Liddicoat, Adjunct Professor, New York University

Peter Bower and Joe Liddicoat, both SENCER Leadership Fellows, will plan and create a SENCER Brownfield Action (BA) Spring 2015 Workshop at Barnard College that will last for three days. Dr. Bower assisted in the organizing for the November 15th SENCER regional meeting at Barnard. The spring 2015 workshop will be attended by the 15 current users of BA, representing a diverse group of colleges and universities, as well as other invitees, to discuss plans for the implementation and dissemination of a new hybrid online version of BA. This hybrid, online version has already been tested by Dr. Liddicoat at the City College of New York in the summer of 2014 but improvements are needed in order to make an online, hybrid version useful to different types of users with different purposes. One promising connection that will be pursued at this workshop is to use this hybrid, online BA as an educational tool for the EPA’s Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) Communities program. The TAB program funds technical assistance to communities and other stakeholders on brownfield issues with the goal of increasing the community’s understanding and involvement in brownfield cleanup and revitalization, and helping to move brownfield sites forward toward cleanup and reuse. Prof. Saugata Datta, one of the current users of BA, is already working with TAB in EPA Region 7, where both local and tribal communities are involved in the program.

College of Charleston
Dr. Martin Jones, Professor, Mathematics
Dr. Anthony Dunlop, Instructor, Mathematics, Normandale Community College
Dr. Rick Dunning, Instructor, Geology, Normandale Community College
Dr. Victor Padron, Instructor, Mathematics, Normandale Community College

We plan to develop mathematical modules that will incorporate civic and socially important applications that can be used by instructors in their intermediate and upper-level mathematics and statistics classes to engage students more deeply into the subject material and provide them with applications that have important social implications. Instructors wishing to engage their students more deeply using mathematics and statistics to address pressing social and environmental issues will be able to incorporate such modules in many core topics of the curriculum. The proposed modules will be reasonably self-contained and yet clearly outline the necessary prerequisite material for students to successfully complete each module. Possible module topics include climate change, air and water quality, food supply and food safety, impact of factory farming on the environment, population dynamics, epidemiology and epidemic models, and alternative energy. The mathematical concepts addressed by the proposed modules will include differential equations, linear systems of equations, vector spaces, calculus of several variables, multiple regression, and probability and stochastic models.

We plan to develop a series of modules of different mathematical levels, pilot them in a number of courses, also involving several colleagues at other institutions, and modify and improve them according to the feedback received. The finalized modules will be made available to other instructors through the SENCER website for Engaging Mathematics.

The target audience will be students in STEM courses and typically those with career aspirations in STEM disciplines. Some modules will be appropriate for first and second year mathematics students, while others will be designed for implementation in third and fourth year courses that have calculus, linear algebra, and statistics as prerequisites.

Freed-Hardeman University
Dr. Caleb Kersey, Assistant Professor of Biology, Biological, Physical, and Human Sciences
Mr. Jason Shockley, Department of Behavioral Sciences
Dr. Rachel Stevens Salmon, Department of Biological, Physical, and Human Sciences

“Genetics (BIO 335)” fulfills a major requirement for our B.A. and B.S. majors at Freed-Hardeman University and is currently taught by Dr. Caleb Kersey. The students taking this class have taken “Cell Biology (BIO 205)”, which has been recently redesigned through SENCER Ideals. We believe the learning principles imparted in “Cell Biology (BIO 205)” can be continued by incorporating real-world applications to “Genetics (BIO 335)”. We propose to adapt the course curriculum by using SENCER strategies through this funding. The content of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) structure, replication, and inheritance can be taught by linking DNA’s application to forensics and its usage in exoneration of wrongfully accused individuals. Our aim is that the content and experiences of this course will motivate our students to become more acutely aware and involved in issues of social injustice. We have set the following goals for our students: 1) increase understanding of content, 2) increase competencies by completing and teaching a crime scene lab, 3) initiate meaningful conversations with governmental DNA forensics specialist, 4) raise awareness and financial support for exoneration of the wrongfully accused. We believe students will increase learning gains and become motivated to use content knowledge in this and other courses to address societal issues. This proposal also aims to open a relationship with the Department of Behavioral Sciences, with the hopes of eventually developing a team-taught forensics course. We will assess student gains in the outlined goals and disseminate our results by holding workshops for our faculty and administration and by attending Summer Institutes. Our university is currently developing an Engaged Learning Initiative and this proposed course will embrace transformative approaches to undergraduate education. By revamping our genetics curriculum and continuing our current SENCER cell biology class, we aim to spread the SENCER approach to Freed-Hardeman University.

Guilford College
Dr. Melanie Lee-Brown, Associate Professor and Director of URCE, Biology and Undergraduate Research & Creative Endeavors
Dr. Michele Malotky, Biology Professor
Dr. Melanie Lee-Brown, Biology Professor, Director of Undergraduate Research
Mr. Andrew Young, Volunteer Training Coordinator, Bonner Center for Community Service and Learning
Ms. Julia Beveridge, Undergraduate Student (biology major and community justice minor)

Guilford County, NC, contains a diverse population of immigrant, refugee, and other underrepresented groups who are facing many difficulties accessing services related to health, housing, education, and transportation. The overarching goal of the ACORE (Allies in Community Outreach, Research, and Education) project is to engage students in using science outside the classroom while serving the community by addressing real world problems. This proposal is both innovative and collaborative and includes faculty, students, and staff from two departments (Biology and Social Work) and two institutions, each with its own unique history for addressing social inequalities (Guilford College, a private Quaker liberal arts college, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, an Historically Black University). This multi-faceted project includes two major components: 1) (Guilford) Faculty/student development and community outreach for promoting cultural competencies, and 2) (NCA&T) the design of an interdisciplinary course with a focus on civic and global engagement through community-based research (CBR).

This subaward proposal (#1 above) involves the creation of faculty and student development workshops in preparation for the interdisciplinary research course proposed in #2 above. The skill set includes a background understanding of U.S immigration and local newcomer history, anti-racism workshops, and cultural sensitivity training as well as instruction in CBR methods. This instruction is essential for effective, focused research and will prepare faculty and students for developing sustainable relationships with the targeted community. Finally, this proposal includes community outreach efforts. Through focus groups and community events, faculty and students will begin to build trusting relationships with community members and identify and assess community needs. The ultimate vision is a peer-mentoring research program where students are involved in CBR projects for multiple years, serving as student mentors/leaders for subsequent courses.

Harry S Truman College
Dr. Raymund Torralba, Associate Professor, Physical Science and Engineering
Prof. Christine Aguila, Assistant Professor, Communications, Learning Community (LC) faculty member, Member of City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) Institutional Review Board
Dr. Mahesh Gurung, Assistant Professor, Biology, LC faculty member, Truman Coordinator of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation
Mr. Geoffrey Martin, Instructor, Communications, LC faculty member, Chair of Assessment

The Truman team plans to increase the College’s capacity to offer highly integrated Learning Communities (LCs) organized around sustainability that apply the SENCER Ideals. This involves enhancing current LCs combining two or more general education courses in science and English. Additionally, the team will build support for LCs combining developmental education courses (English, reading, or mathematics) with college-level, introductory science courses. Through these LCs, the team aims to increase the number of faculty who apply SENCER Ideals to the creation and curation of integrated learning experiences that foster critical thinking and writing, and to increase the design of place-based research projects that develop out of partnerships with community organizations. The impact of this plan on student learning, retention, and success will be measured.

Truman College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), is a comprehensive community college that provides the first two years of baccalaureate degree courses as well as occupational and adult education programs. Truman serves a very diverse student body. As such, the team will work closely with the College support staff to actively recruit students from feeder high schools with particular attention to students underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The Guided Pathways to Success program at the College will also allow college advisors to direct new and current students to the proper LCs.

This project directly supports CCC’s guiding Reinvention goals and therefore has significant support across various sectors of the College and the district. These goals are to 1) increase the number of students earning college credentials of economic value, 2) increase the rate of transfer to Bachelor’s degree programs following CCC graduation, 3) drastically improve outcomes for students needing remediation, and 4) increase number and share of ABE/GED/ESL students who advance to and succeed in college-level courses.

Heartland Educational Consortium
Mr. John Varady, FloridaLearns STEM Scholars Program Coordinator
Ms. Lisa Shin, FloridaLearns STEM Scholars Program Contact, Heartland Educational Consortium
Dr. Theo Koupelis, Dean, School of Pure and Applied Science, Florida SouthWestern College

Students from small and rural school districts typically have limited opportunities for enrichment activities in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Even with the completion of a rigorous high school curriculum, the most gifted and talented of these students often make post-secondary program of study choices, and ultimately career choices, based on a limited knowledge of STEM opportunities that exist beyond those small district borders. Furthermore, students with limited exposure to science and mathematics applications in the “real world” often underestimate the impact that STEM careers can have on both the local community and the larger global community. While many desire an outlet for civic contributions, they often lack understanding of how academic content can address that desire to contribute to the greater good.

This project will expose 120 of these gifted and talented students from small and rural districts, through a one day forum incorporating hands-on activities on the campus of Florida SouthWestern College, to various relevant programs of study in the fields of science and mathematics. Students will also be shown examples of how science and math applications in the real world impact both local and global issues. Students from six small and rural central Florida school districts will participate in the one-day forum, and upon completion of the day, students will return to their schools and create and deliver a lesson to middle or elementary students. The lesson will focus on one of the math or science concepts from the forum and will expose the younger children to both the concepts as well as the civic engagement components of the content application in the real world.

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

Over the course of two years, a student-driven inquiry will examine an impact of SENCER Ideals incorporated into curriculum of Human Anatomy and Physiology courses on effectiveness of teaching and learning practices as well as on development of civic responsibility among students. Student-researchers will investigate attitudes of their peers toward civic engagement and its perceived meaningfulness and utility in terms of both student successes in the classroom and in the community. Reflections of students on civic engagement and learning practices will be central to the project. Initially, a focus group approach will be used that will lead to identification of salient themes that will be incorporated into a questionnaire designed and disseminated among their peers by student-researchers. Responses to the questionnaire will be analyzed and findings will be presented by students at SENCER meetings. By actively engaging students in a “self-study” process leading to a public presentation and a discussion, I hope to reinforce students’ sense of agency and responsibility for the future of education reform. Implementation of innovative pedagogy is driven by the student-centered approach, addressing needs and skill sets of modern students, and it is the primary aim of this project to explicitly make students an integral part of the dialogue on teaching and learning, with a goal to empower students to continue their contribution to such a worthy cause.

Lipscomb University
Dr. Autumn Marshall, Associate Professor and Academic Chair, Nutrition Department*
Dr. Richard Goode, Director of Lipscomb Initiative for Education (LIFE) program, Lipscomb University
Ms. Kristin Shatzer, Director of Service and Learning Together (SALT) Program, Lipscomb University
Dr. Paul Turner, Professor, Psychology, Lipscomb University
Mr. Ronald Whitmore, Director of Education and Superintendent, Tennessee Department of Correction (TDC)

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 take two science courses, one of which is a STEM/SENCER course. This offering has unique needs including science teaching materials, library resources, and student/faculty support, which will be provided by the grant. Three specific LIFE-related goals will the addressed: 1) selecting and storing appropriate and approved teaching/laboratory supplies, 2) adapting, implementing, and evaluating SALG survey questions for inner and outer students for the courses, and 3) setting up communication and meetings with current and past LIFE teachers to discuss specific teaching methods for LIFE courses. Based on past experiences, science teaching/laboratory supplies are limited in the prison setting and all must be approved by the Director of Education well in advance of the course offering. A Lipscomb psychology faculty who has taught in the LIFE program will assist with the adaption of SALG survey questions for this setting. An experienced group of faculty are now available to meet regularly with teachers currently planning to discuss successes and problems with the system. Reassigned time for Lipscomb faculty will be used to coordinate these activities in 2015.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University (NCA&T)
Dr. Kelsie Bernot, Assistant Professor, Biology
Dr. Maura Nsonwu, Social Work Professor
Dr. Mary Lewis, Social Work Professor
Dr. Tonya Hargett, Director of Undergraduate Research
Mr. Gustavo Smith, Undergraduate Social Work Student
Ms. Kayla Mayes, Undergraduate Biology Student

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University will be working in conjunction with Guilford College on the ACORE (Allies in Community Outreach, Research, and Education) project, described above in Guilford’s executive summary, to design an interdisciplinary course with a focus on civic and global engagement through community-based research.

This new collaboration will require significant planning and development to implement the proposed project in a course framework that engages students in interdisciplinary team-based learning and peer-mentored research. Instructors will engage students in instructional design theory and evidence-based practices in science education, empowering students to become “civic scientists” who contribute to our local community and explore global scientific and social issues. The scale-up potential of this design model will include STEM and social science students both through their existing required coursework as well as new interdisciplinary research course(s). Additionally, there is potential for creating study abroad opportunities as students transition from local to global issues. This unique aspect creates additional opportunities for discipline-based educational research and further dissemination of the work both through student and faculty presentations and publications.

North Dakota State University (NDSU)
Dr. Jeffrey Boyer, Learning Designer and Technologist, Dean’s Office, College of Science and Mathematics
Dr. Scott Wood, Dean, College of Science and Mathematics

Our overall goal is to broaden the impact of the SENCER Ideals at North Dakota State University. We have previously focused on increasing participation within NDSU’s College of Science and Mathematics (CSM). There are approximately 150 full-time faculty members within the CSM. To date, two separate teams, which included 10 distinct faculty members, participated in SSI 2013 or SSI 2014. Thus, less than 10% of CSM faculty members have had the opportunity to engage with the SENCER Ideals. No faculty member from our mathematics department has participated, though one statistics faculty member participated in SSI 2014. Faculty members who attended SSI 2013 and SSI 2014 have shared their experiences with colleagues, and this has led to increased interest in the SENCER Ideals within the CSM.

We are in the process of forming a faculty learning community (FLC) for those who have attended previous SSIs and to recruit new faculty members who have expressed interested in the SENCER Ideals. We have several campus initiatives, including the Gardner Institute’s Gateways to Completion process and a growing Learning Assistants program. Both naturally align with our SENCER work, and we need to make time to be more coordinated in our efforts on these various initiatives. An FLC would provide a scheduled and consistent time to meet and a network of supportive and interested individuals. In addition, we’ve realized that we need to spend more time following the SSI to apply what has been learned during SSI to our local context at NDSU. This could also be facilitated through the FLC.

To broaden the impact within the College, we plan to send additional faculty members who teach large enrollment mathematics or science courses to SSI 2015. Our previous redesign efforts focused on a course for non-science majors and a few large enrollment courses for science majors. Our continued effort will now focus on large enrollment mathematics courses and additional large enrollment science courses. This approach will impact a large number of students, especially those in STEM fields.

Northeastern Illinois University
Dr. Caleb Gallemore, Assistant Professor, Geography and Environmental Studies
Dr. Dennis Grammenos, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
Dr. Erick Howenstine, Chair, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
Dr. Ting Liu, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
Dr. Melinda Storie, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies

This project involves complete redevelopment of the Geography and Environmental Studies Department’s undergraduate writing-intensive course, GES 250 – Writing in the Discipline of Geography and Environmental Studies. The redeveloped course, which will be titled Writing and Communicating Geography and the Environment, will be a fully online course designed to develop skills in civic and scientific communication within geography and environmental studies through engagement with a local geographic and/or environmental problem.

In the first section of the course, students will practice professional communication, engaging in outreach to local organizations working on the geographic and/or environmental problem they have chosen. In the second section of the course, students will practice the use of various online communication media to collaborate in planning additional research to deepen their understanding of the problem they have selected, exercising group communication and collaboration skills. The third section of the course covers shorter forms of academic writing and word processing, and in this phase students will review relevant academic literature and write a short piece in formal academic style. In the fourth section, students will practice writing field observations relevant to their problem, based on plans made and information gathered in previous exercises. Fifth, students will write an opinion piece about the problem based on the research they have conducted. In the sixth and final section of the course, students will draft a short mock grant application for a project intended to address the problem they have identified. The grant proposal will link NEIU faculty and courses to the community project. Proposals will be shared among NEIU faculty within and outside the Geography and Environmental Studies department and one proposal each year will be selected as the focus for an upper-division transdisciplinary course addressing the geographic and/or environmental problem in question directly, in partnership with interested stakeholders.

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA)
Dr. Gillian Backus, Associate Professor, Biology
Dr. Paul Fitzgerald, Assistant Professor, Biology
Ms. Lucinda (Cindy) Miller, Director, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
Dr. Diane Mucci, Professor, Biology, Biotechnology Program Head
Dr. Ilya Temkin, Assistant Professor, Biology

Since the time of Pythagoras, great science and great art have co-existed, with one often informing the other. The creative mind is credited not only with great paintings and musical composition, but also with such feats as traveling to the moon, building the Golden Gate Bridge, and unraveling the mysteries of gene regulation. At Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), honors students were challenged to bring these two disciplines together in a course, initiated in Fall 2013, called “STEAM: The Intersection of Art and Science.” By the end of the pilot, students had prepared stunning, insightful art depicting a particular scientific topic of interest including bodily function, geological time, vision, zebrafish embryology, and black holes. At the final exhibition held on campus, students spoke to visitors and faculty about the evolution of their projects and facilitated discussion around what they had learned.

The pilot, eight-week course was so successful that its scope has now been expanded to a 16-week, two-credit class to be held in Spring 2015. The intent of this proposal is to cover unmet expenses that came up during the pilot. For instance, students had to provide their own materials, and faculty reported an overall lack of training and clear expectations. This proposal would provide funds for student materials and support faculty training, and would offset the cost of disseminating the results of this initiative at selected conferences and through academic publications.

New York City College of Technology (NYCCT) – CUNY
Dr. Marianna Bonanome, Associate Professor, Applied Mathematics and Computer Science
Dr. Juanita But, Associate Professor, English Department
Dr. Rebecca Devers, Assistant Professor, English Department
Dr. Davida Symth, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences Department

The SENCER Summer Institute 2014 Post-Institute Implementation Award will allow the team from New York City College of Technology (City Tech) to initiate an interdisciplinary “problem-solving” project: students in linked English, reading, math, and biology classes will learn class content through collaborative efforts to bring a community garden to City Tech. Borrowing on the structure of First Year Learning Communities, the connected classes will share assignments, take field trips, and present their work to the college community.
Establishing such a garden will address the multitude of issues concerning healthy food accessibility and, additionally, serve to address the disconnection between students and their food sources. Students will research urban gardening, visit community gardens in the NYC metro area, establish a budget for creating and sustaining a garden, and become community advocates. The Garden Project promotes SENCER Ideals of community involvement and global awareness while integrating essential reading, writing, and quantitative reasoning skills. The Garden Project encourages students to develop facility as flexible and critical thinkers as it presents students with a complex problem that can’t easily be partitioned amongst academic departments: how can urban college students incorporate an affordable, healthy diet into lives already full of school, family, and work responsibilities?

The City Tech team is comprised of the coordinators of two extant interdisciplinary programs, WAC (Writing Across the Curriculum) and READ (Reading Effectively Across Disciplines), ensuring that the project will emphasize effective communication skills–skills that students will draw upon well beyond their participation in the project. Students will share their work not only with their City Tech peers, but also with their own families and with the next generation of students. If established, the garden will serve as a living laboratory for students in classes ranging from biology to hospitality management, and become an ongoing site for active learning.

Plymouth State University
Dr. Doug Earick, Research Assistant Professor, Center for the Environment
Dr. Cynthia Carlson, Assistant Professor, Natural and Social Sciences, New England College
Dr. Sarah Turtle, Adjunct Faculty, Environmental Science and Policy, Biological Sciences, Plymouth State University
Dr. Rachel Whitaker, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science, White Mountains Community College

Working as a collaborative team, an integrated curriculum is being developed that will focus on water resources education across the state of New Hampshire. This curriculum, being developed by a team representing four institutions of higher education, is focused on developing student understandings around water issues, including historical impacts on our state’s streams and rivers, biological influences and needs within our water bodies, water quality parameters and chemistry, and GIS mapping of various water-related data sets. It is the project’s goal to align multi-course instruction based upon SENCER instructional planning Models and Ideals, and to implement a statewide initiative in the current academic year of the developed curriculum.

This effort will lead to 1) the modification of existing curricula toward the improvement of learning and instruction in the team collaborative courses, 2) the development of a new curriculum with opportunities for student research within these course settings, and 3) the incorporation of SENCER methodologies that focus on the involvement of faculty and their students in civic engagement and studies of public issues around various aspects of water resources and use. Those team members who attended the 2014 Institute have been working to develop this collaborative curriculum and will be implementing it during the Spring 2015 semester.

It is hoped that these opportunities for student engagement and research within the impacted courses will lead to increased interest in areas of STEM, promoting NSF and EPSCoR goals of workforce development and broader impacts. The team is especially excited about providing a Model showcasing opportunities for other faculty from two-year and four-year institutions to work in developing a shared project curriculum and team concepts for cross-institutional collaborations following this initiative.

Roosevelt University
Dr. Wanwan Huang, Professor, Mathematics and Actuarial Science

Insurance is society’s most common risk management method. It helps prevent people from uncertain loss. President Obama put a lot of effort into healthcare reform, and people are interested in the benefits, premiums, and reserves of different policies. People care about the insurance services provided in this country, and this is an important part of civic engagement. Roosevelt University’s “ACSC 370 Actuarial Mathematics” course covers different life insurance models and the calculations for their premiums, benefits, and reserves. The students in this class are senior or master students who have completed the prerequisite, calculus II. Incorporating a project into this course will bring more experience to the students by giving them an early sense of the industry, which is beneficial if they seek jobs in this area. The project will contain three parts: 1) Studying the background. The students will be asked to do some literature research on insurance companies’ resources, provided by the instructor. The students will learn the structures of the companies by studying the functions of different departments and the regulations people have to follow. 2) Collecting data. The instructor will provide data resources in the form of mortality tables released by Blue Cross Blue Shield or UnitedHealth Group. Students will work in groups to select what kind of data they want to work on. 3) Data analysis. Students will be required to design a model to analyze the data. They will use mortality tables to compute the survival probability and death probability. They will also work on single, double, and triple decrement models. Based on the results of their analysis, the students will make conclusions. They will be also required to prepare posters about their project research for the Mathematics Festival, where they can share their knowledge and ideas about how to improve the insurance system in this country with the audience and hear feedback from others. Students will also discuss if it is necessary for the government to work on broadening the population that receives health care coverage through either public sector insurance programs or private sector insurance companies.

Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU)
Dr. Winnie Yu, Professor, Computer Science
Dr. Nick Edgington, Associate Professor, Biology
Dr. James Kearns, Professor, Chemistry
Dr. Clara Kim, Biology Education Coordinator

This proposal will design and implement events and activities that will improve STEM student retention and graduation rates through engaging students and their learning. This proposal focuses on institutional and programmatic practices that can be amended to bring improvement in learning outcomes for STEM students. The intent is to engage students in learning by fostering a broad perspective in STEM, emphasizing that STEM subjects are inter-related disciplines. The proposed program components feature activities to build student success by developing good measure for Connection, Organization, Retention, and Dissemination (CORD). Connection refers to connecting classroom knowledge with situational learning, such as local internship programs and opportunities through the Career and Placement Office to integrate civic engagement and social responsibility into the teaching and learning of science. Organization refers to creating tools such as a curricular map for each STEM discipline to be used during academic advisement so that students are clear on course requirements and sequencing of coursework to ensure that they have appropriate foundational knowledge to succeed. Retention refers to aligning institutional student support to provide time-critical and level-appropriate academic assistance for students. Dissemination is to reinforce STEM learning by building on the interrelationship among science, technology, and math subjects and to implement regular on-campus scholarly activities where STEM faculty and students come together to showcase student work. The goal of this proposal is to set up a sustainable framework that fosters and supports STEM learning such that the good practices will transform the teaching and learning of science.

St. John’s University
Dr. Roberta Hayes, Institute for Core Studies, Associate Professor
Dr. Irene Dabrowski, Associate Professor, Sociology
Ms. Marilyn Dono-Koulouris, Ed.D., Associate Professor, Institute for Core Studies
Dr. Amanda Moulder, Assistant Professor, Institute for Core Studies

The St. John’s University (SJU) implementation grant proposes to pilot SENCER pedagogy using an interdisciplinary approach across Core curriculum courses: Scientific Inquiry, First Year Writing, Urban Sociology, and Discover New York (which delves into NYC history). These courses will be linked through a freshman Learning Community, with a unifying theme of Sustainability and Urbanization: NYC Parks and Neighborhoods. An electronic portfolio will be used to connect, evaluate, assess, and archive student materials and learning instruments from each course. Students will be encouraged to include photos, videos, and voice-recorded reflections in their e-portfolio descriptions.

The SJU Institute for Core Studies emphasizes skill-based learning, problem-solving, critical thinking, writing and rhetorical analysis, oral presentation, information literacy, and quantitative reasoning. Each course has been selected to promote scientific literacy and civic engagement in non-major undergraduate students. Our goals are to achieve an appreciation of science and nature, to encourage evidence-based thinking, and to explore discussions about the role of science in society, scientific ethics, and society’s responsibility to science. Coupled together these Core courses will link key learning activities, writing assignments, and Academic Service Learning projects, and will initiate an invited guest lecture series for students. Guest lecturers will be experts in fields outside of the traditional course curriculum and will be chosen for their ability to enhance and broaden the depth of specific topic areas and learning objectives contained in the approved general syllabus for each course. The courses will be linked through common course content, learning communities, academic service and civic projects, and through common writing assignments related to each course and place in a CORE electronic portfolio. These courses will relate complex social problems often encountered in NYC’s history and will contrast the historical situations with an ever-changing modern urban environment. Topics integrated into neighborhood research include: Immigration, Homelessness, Environmental Sustainability, and Civic Responsibility.

Students will explore Sustainability and Urbanization in written and creative forms of persuasion using rhetorical analysis. Exercises will include a visual rhetorical analysis of sample, sustainability-themed websites to prepare students to create artifacts using visuals. Projects might include, for example, writing a “Sustainability Policy Statement” or a “HUD Community Challenge Grant” for a Staten Island neighborhood. Students will explore the relationship between nature and urban spaces, and develop the skill sets of interviewing and qualitative research used in the social sciences. Reflective essays and scientific reports will be intertwined with discussion essays on nature and social-civic issues.

Suffolk County Community College
Dr. Nina Leonhardt, College Associate Dean for Continuing Education

Suffolk County Community College’s (SCCC’s) ongoing multidisciplinary SENCER project focuses on climate change and sustainable practices with an emphasis on Long Island’s endangered water resources. In 2013-14, SCCC received a Post-Institute Implementation Project Award which provided for planning and the redesign of labs based on the SENCER Ideals. This redesign allows students to experiment with conductivity probes to analyze water and test for nitrates/nitrites. In addition, STEM students conceived and designed a project that solved a campus-based lighting and heating problem using renewable and sustainable energy technology.

The 2014-15 Post-Institute Implementation Project will leverage this foundational work to 1) design and implement SENCER-based modifications to laboratories in additional courses to enable student investigators to examine the sources, causes, and major contaminants in stormwater runoff on SCCC’s campuses, and propose suggestions for remediation that do not negatively impact the surrounding community, and 2) to explore the physiological impacts of groundwater contaminants on populations.

Research presented by the SCCC team at the SENCER Summer Institute on the use of clicker response systems to actively engage students in coursework will be leveraged in SENCERized labs/courses to increase the impact of active learning in exercises involving the selection and design of student research projects. The 2014-15 project will include piloting Via Response technology in biology and majors level chemistry courses to further enhance student engagement. Via’s cloud-based architecture eliminates software and hardware limitations and engages today’s “mobile-app generation” by using their phones with an “app–based” interface that enables students to participate in class from any location. Via Response empowers students to personalize communication, which ensures student privacy.

In an extension to the clicker effectiveness research, these systems will also be used to attempt to collect attitudinal change data from student participants to complement and enhance planned SALG assessments of the effectiveness of modified courses/labs.

United States Military Academy
COL Gerald Kobylski, Center for Faculty Development Leadership, Academy and Associate Professor
LTC Melinda Kalainoff, Academy Professor, Chemistry and Life Science

In the last two years, the West Point Academic Program has initiated an interdisciplinary program among its core courses in the freshman and sophomore years focused on applying various disciplinary perspectives to study a common theme: energy. In the first year program, students explore disciplinary content in the context of energy use and sustainability in courses such as math, chemistry, English, psychology, and information technology. The sophomore program focuses on the common theme of energy production topics and challenges for courses such as physics, calculus, statistics, American politics, economics, philosophy, and geography.

In the coming year, the first and second year core programs will be in transition. With the expected addition of biology as a core course and possible changes to the sequencing of courses, the West Point Core Interdisciplinary Team (CIT) sees these changes as opportunities for influencing curricula towards a deliberate integration of SENCER principles in the initial stages of curricular design. Additionally, the momentum gained from the energy theme has spurred interest to develop another theme: power. These initiatives build upon the successes of the CIT 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: “Graduates integrate knowledge and skills from a variety of disciplines to anticipate and respond appropriately to opportunities and challenges in a changing world”.

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

University of Kansas
Dr. Kelsey Bitting, Visiting Assistant Professor/Postdoctoral Fellow for Course Redesign, Geology
Dr. Alison Olcott Marshall, Assistant Professor of Geology
Dr. Craig Marshall, Associate Professor of Geology

This project develops a SENCER course using the framework of Mars exploration missions in the search for life beyond Earth to teach the scientific process of geologic investigation with an active, discovery approach. Led by an interdisciplinary team of Earth scientists, students will visit Mars analog field sites, collect and analyze geochemical and biological evidence, and communicate their questions, processes, and findings in writing for the public. The course will also include a strong emphasis on the societal questions of whether, when, and how governments should invest taxpayer funds into the extraterrestrial search for life and the science of understanding other planets. Activities or lessons that examine these issues might include analyses of government spending on space exploration per capita (for example, for the previous Mars rover missions or the ESA Philae comet lander mission), student research assignments that ask students to find scientific findings or technological innovations originally developed for space exploration and trace the evolution of those innovations as they permeate our everyday lives on Earth, and discussions of the connections between the search for extraterrestrial life and the social and societal ramifications of the outcomes of that process. As a first-year seminar at the University of Kansas, the course will cultivate a deeper understanding of the process of science and its value in society to encourage freshmen to adopt or persist in STEM majors. The course will first be taught in fall 2015, and revised in fall 2016 and beyond.

The instructors will attend SSI meetings for feedback and help in the development phase of the project, and to present the course outcomes to the SENCER community. They will seek to publish activities and course design details on the On the Cutting Edge and SENCER websites, and will disseminate results on the University of Kansas campus through the 2016 Teaching Summit, substantially raising the profile of the SENCER initiative at this institution. By analyzing student achievement of course learning goals using concept inventory questions, the SENCER Student Assessment of their Learning Gains survey, and student reflections, the instructors will seek to rigorously document the value of this approach for teaching science literacy and increasing engagement in science in preparation of scholarship of teaching and learning publications.

University of Louisville
Dr. Linda Fuselier, Biology
Dr. Jennifer Mansfield-Jones, Biology

Complex civic issues related to assisted reproductive technologies (ART) will be incorporated into two linked, large enrollment courses to scaffold, sequence, and reinforce foundational concepts in biology. This work will be a springboard for a new SENCER partnership at an institution new to SENCER and not currently using the SENCER approach to teach biology. Although the focus of the work is related to both Human Genetics and Pregnancy Outcomes (two SENCER courses), this project will involve the redesign of course content and rigorous assessment of student knowledge gains and attitude changes. The SENCER SALG and Meiosis Concept Inventory will be used as part of the assessment plan and results will be presented to the campus community and a wider audience of education researchers.

University of North Carolina Asheville
Dr. Becca Hale, Assistant Professor, Biology
Dr. Angeldeep Kaur, Lecturer, Biology
Ms. Caroline Kennedy, Lecturer, Biology
Dr. Jennifer Rhode Ward, Assistant Professor, Biology

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), organisms that have been altered to include genes from other species, are a source of confusion and concern for many consumers. Thus far, there has been little scientific evidence to definitively speak to the health risks posed by genetically modified foods for human and non-human consumers. Furthermore, the environmental and ecological impact of GMO foods remains to be seen. The misinformation and controversies surrounding GMOs, and these items’ ubiquity, make them an ideal topic for SENCERization. This project uses a teaching module and associated laboratory exercise to help undergraduate students learn about the scientific and social issues surrounding GMO foods.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, our team developed a university-level GMO laboratory exercise for non-majors’ Introductory Biology and majors’ Cellular and Molecular Biology. Students chose and tested foods for genetic markers of GMO corn, with mixed success. During summer 2014, two biology students were hired to refine the laboratory techniques to increase the range of food products for which the procedure was successful. The results of these ongoing efforts strongly indicate that the technical aspects of this laboratory exercise can be accomplished. The SENCER Institute subaward will support expansion of the laboratory exercise for different levels of students and development of a teaching module providing context for the exercise. The combined classroom and lab components will allow students to test foods from their daily lives for GMO content, evaluate primary literature presenting contradictory evidence for and against GMO foods, and present their findings to classmates. We will utilize University Student Ambassadors, UNC Asheville students who have completed the lab project in a previous semester, to collaborate with local high school teachers to conduct the laboratory exercise in their classrooms. Effects of the module, lab exercise, presentation, and high school collaboration will be assessed via the SENCER-SALG.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)
Dr. Michael Buckholt, Associate Teaching Professor, Biology & Biotechnology Department, Course Design and Instruction, Assessment Coordination
Dr. Constance Clark, Associate Professor, Humanities and Arts Department, Course Design and Instruction, Curriculum Review and Revision
Ms. Laura Hanlan, Research and Instruction Librarian, Course Design and Instruction, Research and Final Project Support
Dr. Jill Rulfs, Associate Professor and Associate Department Head, Biology & Biotechnology Department, Course Design and Instruction, Administrative Coordination

In an increasingly science and technology based society, there is a clear need to educate a scientifically literate general populace and a qualified STEM workforce, including STEM teachers. An important aspect of scientific literacy is an understanding of the nature of science, specifically that science is a human endeavor, subject to change, and influenced by society and culture ( AAAS 1993; Lederman et al, 2002, Abd-El-Khalick and Lederman 2000, Abd-El-Khalik 2006). Yet a 2009 study by Desaulnier, Miller et al (Desaulnier Miller 2010) found that undergraduate students had relatively uninformed views about scientific theories and laws and the methodology of science. These and other authors postulate that the lack of exposure to authentic research and over-emphasis of the “scientific method” may contribute to the student views. Both Engage to Excel and Vision and Change (PCAST 2013, AAAS/NSF 2011) advocate a change in instructional approach to one, hands-on and discovery based, that better engages women and underrepresented minorities (Hunter 2007, Russell et al 2007, Pope et al 2011). Clearly all students would benefit from a pedagogical approach that places discovery-based science in its historical context. The development of an interdisciplinary course integrating the teaching of science and the history of science is one approach to address these linked issues. Developing laboratory experiences that simulate the conditions in which scientists worked in the past will provide opportunities for students to discover for themselves the contextual complexity of science, and understand science as a process, grounded in particular times, places, and conditions, and in which people learn from “failures” as well as successes. This method for integrating the teaching of science and its history with laboratories simulating the actual processes of science at a variety of times and places can ultimately serve as a model for use at other institutions

Young Harris College (YHC)
Dr. Karynne L M Kleine, Dean, Division of Education
Dr. Paul Arnold, Chair Biological & Environmental Sciences Department
Dr. Rob Campbell, Director Center for Appalachian Studies and Community Engagement
Dr. Chris Sass, Mathematics Department Chair

This project is phase I of a multi-step route toward infusing SENCER Ideals into the Young Harris College curriculum and culture. As an institution new to SENCER, this goal will require work over a number of years and on various fronts. For this first segment beginning in fall 2014, each of the four collaborators will identify and engage one YHC student from our respective disciplines to work in concert with our team this academic year as part of a paid internship. Initially the interns will be determining how to address a need in our Appalachian community by planning and implementing a program for providing math “tutoring” to area middle/high school students through engaging activities and topics. Public school students will be motivated to use mathematical concepts such as scientific notation or percentages in order to learn more effectively from visits to YHC resources, such as the planetarium and astronomical observatory. The interns will survey the needs of students, identify how many they can work with effectively, and plan and implement a means for addressing student fluency with mathematical procedures as the younger students prepare for and participate in science-focused activities at the YHC campus. The college interns will measure the effectiveness of their efforts and will then work with our SENCER team to design a three-credit-hour course for the new YHC general education core curriculum that will have at its aims bringing together college students across disciplines to learn about teaching math and science through a community-engaged lens.

Phase II will begin after the course is designed and accepted into the YHC general education core curriculum.

*In Memoriam: Professor Ben Hutchinson

Photograph by Stacie CC BY 2.0

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