Saturday, October 7, 2006

2006 PKAL F21 National Assembly- Break-out Session B

Coming together to...

Build collegial curricular connections within your home campus community

    Promoting connections and engagement with faculty and professional learning communities
    W. Bradley Kincaid- Director of the Center for Teaching & Learning, Mesa Community College
    Katrien J. Kraft- Professor of Geology, Mesa Community College

    How should we go about doing the work of strengthening student learning in science, technology, engineering and math?

    We will engage participants in an inquiry into how we might get more faculty and staff involved in improving teaching and learning. We will explore the characteristics of alternate approaches to STEM education reform and identify characteristics of those that are most positive and sustainable. We will introduce Milt Cox’s Faculty and Professional Learning Community (FPLC) model. Then, we will describe an assessment of our pilot FPLC, which was an interdisciplinary investigation of teaching the Nature of Science, and our expanded FPLC program for this year. We will then apply the FPLC model and consider how getting a significant fraction of our faculty (including adjuncts and staff) connected and engaged might impact our respective institutions. Consideration will be given to impacts ranging from enhanced student learning to institutional transformation.

    Connections between Mathematics & Biology
    Stokes S. Baker- Associate Professor of Biology, University of Detroit Mercy
    A. Malcolm Campbell- Associate Professor of Biology & Director of the Genome Consortium for Active Teaching, Davidson College
    Kathryn E. Loesser-Casey- Associate Professor of Biology, University of Mary Washington
    Bonnie Shulman- Associate Professor of Mathematics, Bates College

    Working within their disciplines, biologists and mathematicians can answer many interesting questions, but collaboratively they have the potential to solve more complex problems. Rather than talking about blending math and biology, this session will model the desired outcome. Participants will work in small, interdisciplinary groups to investigate real-world biological problems that require mathematical analysis. Moreover, participants can partner with individuals from other institutions to gain new perspectives. Groups will be asked to develop useful modules or strategies to bring biology into their math courses, or math into their biology courses.

Focus on student learning

    Modeling undergraduate research through successes and pitfalls: Computational science as a case study
    Andrea M. Karkowski- Associate Professor of Psychology, Capital University
    Terry D. Lahm- Associate Professor & Director of the Environmental Sciences Program, Capital University

    A research-rich curriculum for undergraduates and continuous opportunities for faculty and student research requires resources, vision and incentives. Departmental and institutional leadership must be committed to providing infrastructure, time, and funding. This session will address “lessons learned” in fostering an undergraduate research program that engages students and faculty in cross-disciplinary explorations that model how 21st century science is practiced.

Connect beyond your home campus community

    Establishing and maintaining educational & research connections with international colleagues
    David Statman- Professor of Physics & Chemistry, Allegheny College
    Judith Wubah- Assistant Professor of Biology, James Madison University

    There has long been a call for changes in education by both representatives of academia and industry. The breadth of skills needed by undergraduates in the 21st century is also addressed by agencies that help shape engineering and science curricula. And today's students are growing up in an increasingly shrinking world, with an expectation of international travel sometime in their academic experience. Yet despite that recognition by these agencies and students' desire somewhere along the way, the international experience doesn't seem to happen for most undergraduate STEM students. The barriers to international study are multidimensional and include student barriers, faculty barriers, and institutional barriers.

    This session will attempt to answer three important questions: What institutional structures make a program work? How do we know the program works? And more importantly, how can others identify the barriers at their own institutions and then overcome them?

Work towards and beyond institutional transformation

    Having an impact at the national level
    Thomas Brady - Division Director of Integrative Organismal Biology, Directorate for Biological Sciences, National Science Foundation
    Mary M. Kirchhoff- Acting Director of the Education Division, American Chemical Society
    Catherine Mader- Associate Professor of Physics, Hope College

    “Connecting to Washington,” for day-trips or for short- or long-term assignments, is time and money well-spent for those taking responsibility for shaping the environment for learning for undergraduates in American colleges and universities. That is, if you plan carefully how to use that time, how to link what is happening at the national level to what is happening on your campus, in your local or disciplinary community. Such connections are essential when you as a leader reach out to build upon the work of others (getting grants is one example here), but Washington connections are important for many other reasons.

    By making such connections you have the opportunity to shape the larger national agenda— making sure the right questions are asked on the Hill, and in federal agencies as policies, programs and budgets that affect the future— of your students, science, and institution—are shaped. Your voice is also important as you tell stories about what works for your students, stories that confirm or reinterpret what people know about how STEM students learn— stories that need to be told.

    Building connections to Washington is also part of serving your scientific community through leadership in a disciplinary and interdisciplinary society— going beyond the “what’s in it for me?” question about how and why to spend one’s time and energy. So, there are both personal and societal reasons for being involved. If your disciplinary colleagues come to know you as “someone to depend upon to get something done,” that is a building block for your career. If you have opportunity to influence (or at least inform) policy makers toward your understanding of what it takes to build and sustain an undergraduate STEM learning environment that serves the greater national interest, that becomes a visible part of your commitment to strengthening our democratic society.

    Mentoring & faculty development for the interdisciplinary scientist
    Mary Harrington- Tippet Professor of Life Sciences, Department of Psychology, Smith College
    Michael Kerchner- Associate Professor & Chair of Psychology, Washington College

    Mentoring faculty who are engaged in interdisciplinary modes of inquiry or those with teaching responsibilities in more than one academic department encounter unique opportunities and challenges in the course of their early careers. At institutions where joint appointments or cross-disciplinary collaborations among faculty are rare, the institution and the mentors may be ill equipped to facilitate the development of junior colleagues in such positions. Likewise, mentoring colleagues who are actively engaged in interdisciplinary scholarship may require unique approaches. Participants in these sessions will work in small teams to identify the unique needs of junior colleagues in interdisciplinary fields and unique strategies that may be employed in mentoring these individuals. The facilitators will draw from their experiences within the field of neuroscience but participants from other interdisciplinary disciplines should find the session to be equally relevant and are particularly invited to contribute to discussion.

Work toward institutional transformation

    Leading by example: The role of chairs & deans
    James J. Napolitano- Professor of Physics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Pamela E. Scott-Johnson- Associate Professor & Chair of Psychology, Morgan State University
    Jessica R. Young- Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs & Associate Professor of Biology, Western State College of Colorado

    Successful reform in undergraduate STEM education, indeed in all disciplines, depends on individuals with academic vision, commitment, interpersonal skills and political acumen. In this session, three respected leaders will present their individual perspectives on the process of leadership development with specific recommendations for STEM faculty at all career stages.