Breakout Sessions for Friday, February 22, 2019

Heather Bergan-Roller, Northern Illinois University

Heather Bergan-Roller, Christina Cline, Collin Jaeger, and Shupei Yuan, Northern Illinois University

Engaging Students in Communicating Science with the Public

Communicating science to a general, non-scientific audience (herein SciComm) is an important scientific skill. Recently, scientific communities have called on scientists across the world to communicate more frequently with the general public across a range of formats and channels. Having students engage in the same practices as scientists is important to foster future generations of scientists and develop a scientifically literate society. Moreover, recent seminal reports have included SciComm as an important scientific practice in which undergraduate students should become competent. Unfortunately, undergraduate science students rarely are provided the opportunity to engage in SciComm.

We have developed a modular lesson that engages undergraduate science students in SciComm. This lesson is grounded in a framework we developed from evidence-and theory-based work in science communication, education, science, and communication. The framework details to whom, what, and how undergraduate science students should communicate science. The associated lesson includes student and instructor materials. The student materials include a resource guide, assignment instructions, and worksheet. The resource guide describes the rationale for why and how science should be communicated with the public, introduces each of the SciComm elements, and poses questions about the elements to help students brainstorm ways to address the elements for their SciComm project. Further, we’ve created a rubric with sections on each element that instructors can use to provide students with feedback, assess student work, and evaluate projects.

Our breakout session will be organized into two main parts. First, we will introduce the audience to our framework on the essential elements for effective SciComm for undergraduate science students and describe our recent research characterizing how students engage in SciComm. Second, we will provide our lesson materials to the attendees and engage them in brainstorming how to adapt the lesson and materials for their specific course contexts.

Micki Chi, Arizona State University

Micki Chi, Arizona State University

How to Implement Interactive, Constructive, Active, and Passive Engagement (ICAP) into Instruction

During the breakout session, I will clarify three more important issues. One issue is to clarify the grain size (complexity of the processing) of an instructor’s strategic teaching move or assignment to make students more active and the grain size of an ICAP mode. We will look at other activities that have been recommended by practitioners and how they can be interpreted from the ICAP perspective. Related to this is the idea of how to start by making small improvements, especially in the context of a lecture or a discussion. A second issue to discuss, if interested, is how ICAP mode verbs differ from Bloom’s verbs. Most importantly, we will consider what constitutes a good pattern of collaborative dialog, and how many other dialog patterns are not effective for learning, from ICAP’s perspective. A handout will have samples of active learning strategies, verbs, and snippets of collaborative dialogues, to help us focus our discussion.

Ginevra Clark, University of Illinois at Chicago

Ginevra A. Clark, University of Illinois at Chicago

Teaching Cultural Issues in Organic Chemistry Labs

As part of our ongoing work to develop labs that relate chemistry to healthcare, we have developed a framework to teach social justice concepts and applied it to several labs. In this breakout session we will explore application of the framework in one specific example.

The “Carbohydrates Lab” uses chemical and enzymatic means to explore carbohydrate chemistry, which is foundational in understanding nutrition and metabolism. Students develop a test for sucrose intolerance, which impacts approximately 10% of the Inuit population. Students further explore cultural and social issues as they relate to science by considering issues of food sovereignty and the impact of dietary restrictions on cultural practices in relevant pre-lab, during-lab, and post-lab activities.

This workshop will prepare participants to:

  1. Understand our framework and how it is applied, both for students and to train teaching assistants.
  2. Implement appropriate laboratory procedures for the Carbohydrates Lab.
  3. Share ideas with others on how to use the framework in their own lab development.
Cline Christina, Northern Illinois University

Christina Cline, Karen Samonds, and Heather Bergan-Roller, Northern Illinois University

Written Communication Skills in Physical Therapy Students (poster session)

A functional doctor-patient relationship is predicated upon successful communication. Medical professionals (doctors, dentists, physician assistants, nurses, physical therapists) often must convey complicated scientific information to their patients who come with varying degrees of background knowledge. It is critical for students studying these professions to learn and practice best approaches to communication. Medical communication training tends to focus on verbal skills needed for patient-physician encounters and is the focus of most medical communications training research. More work needs to be done on understanding students’ written communication skills to improve both training and practice.

Here, we present a study that evaluates the written communication skills of physical therapy students enrolled in a gross human anatomy course. The study looked at the following research question: How do physical therapy students change how they communicate in writing with different audiences? Students were asked to write letters to patients, with varying levels of assumed medical knowledge. These letters summarized their analysis of the patient’s symptoms as a part of case study assignments. The first patient was described as having a college education with medical background, the second patient was described as having an eighth-grade education, and the final patient also had an eighth-grade education. The final patient letters were compared to the previous letters through thematic analysis. Results from the qualitative coding of patient letters will present major themes present in the patient letters and if and how they change through the course of the three case studies. This work will add to our knowledge of how medical students can more effectively and efficiently learn and practice necessary communication skills that are vital for successful medical practice.

Melanie Pivarski, Roosevelt University

Steve Cohen, Roosevelt University; Barbara Gonzalez, Northern Illinois University; Wanwan Huang, Melanie Pivarski, and Wilfredo Urbina Romero, Roosevelt University

Social Justice Projects for Calculus 2 and Financial Math

We created a series of semester-long projects to be used in our calculus 2 and financial math courses that connect mathematics to Social Justice .These projects are a part of the upcoming MAA text Mathematics and Social Justice: Resources for the College Classroom. In these projects we have calculus 2 students study the Gini Index (to quantify income inequality), the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill (estimating size), and the Mortgage Crisis. In this breakout session, we will give you an overview of the projects and then have you try some activities in small groups.

Alexandra K. Daemicke, Northern Illinois University

Alexandra K. Daemicke, Heather Bergan-Roller, and Daniel Olson, Northern Illinois University

Metacognition and Science Identity in Anatomy (poster session)

Many introductory biology courses at high academic institutions are taught in a way that prioritizes memorization of facts rather than conceptual understanding and higher-order thinking. However, this mode of instruction not only runs counter contemporary best practices in science education research, but also is seen as overwhelming to many students. While attention has focused on the impacts of curriculum change and teaching practice on student performance, few studies have examined how a shift to student-centered learning can be improved by attending to psychological variables in anatomy and physiology related courses. In other disciplines it can be quite profound, as teaching students to be more thoughtful, specifically metacognitive, throughout the learning process provides an important vehicle through which they learn to think more like scientists, and improve their science identity.

This project sought to investigate how attention to improving student metacognition in a cadaver-based anatomy course can benefit their science identity and exam scores. Aspects of intervention included, but were not limited to, metacognition presentations, metacognitive- based review sessions, as well as post-exam reflection worksheets. A group of students enrolled in Northern Illinois University’s cadaver-based functional anatomy course were included in the study. Both the control and treatment groups had the same lecture instructor, teaching assistant, lecture format, and laboratory protocol. The students’ sense of science identity was measured before and after the introduction of metacognition instruction and activities. Four unit exam scores were collected throughout the course of the semester. Initial data analysis shows that although metacognition instruction does not have a large impact on science identity, it does positively affect exam scores even with a limited sample size.

Apart from content illustrated by the poster presentation, attendees will also have the opportunity to learn more about and view resources utilized in the study, including various exercises and worksheets.

Paul Dawkins, Northern Illinois University

Paul Dawkins, Northern Illinois University

Helping students understand what questions logic is answering in mathematics

This session will present on a novel approach to teaching undergraduates the essentials of logic for doing mathematics. I start with the assumption that many students who learn some formalized logic do not really understand what questions it answers and how it helps them. I thus start from the standpoint of trying to get students to think about language use and how language refers to objects. While I have taken this approach in the context of transition to proof courses or early proof courses such as real analysis, the activities will be of interest to anyone who is concerned about how we apprentice students into using mathematical language in the way mathematicians do.

The session will alternate between sharing findings from my ongoing research on student learning of logic and the sequence of teaching activities that have emerged as useful for promoting student reasoning about logic. Regarding student thinking, I will begin helping the audience understand how students use language in coherent ways that simply conflict with mathematical conventions. By acknowledging the very rational basis for many students’ alternative language conventions, we can compare which kinds of teaching activities will be useful to help students adopt the mathematical conventions and see them as useful. Regarding the teaching activities, I will outline the learning trajectory as it builds from students’ naïve strategies to more formalizable ways of using mathematical language.

The audience will be engaged in the two stages through discussions about student thinking on the one hand and chances to work through the tasks with their neighbors on the other. All of the teaching materials are available to attendees upon request, along with explanations of how to use the tasks and guide student discussion.

Cindy Kaus, Metropolitan State University

Cindy Kaus, Metropolitan State University

Mathematics as a Creative Human Endeavor

How do we get all of our students to see themselves as mathematical thinkers? How do we get them to dismiss stereotypes about who belongs in this field? We can begin by exploring the history of mathematics.  In this session, we will work through a hands-on activity for students on the history of mathematics. The activity is intended for any level math course and gives students the opportunity to use prior knowledge from a wide variety of disciplines, including religion, history, art, and science, to put the puzzle together.

Nicole LaDue, Northern Illinois University

Nicole D. LaDue, Northern Illinois University

Using Clickers to Engage Students in Visual-Spatial Thinking

Students perform significantly better in courses where instructors use active learning techniques, rather than lecturing alone (Freeman et al., 2014). Typical clicker systems, or classroom response systems (CRS), engage students with multiple-choice questions. Recent advancements in web-based technology enables companies to expand the question response formats available for instructors. Now, students can click directly on a diagram to respond to a question. Instructors can display a heat map showing the frequency of students’ responses and use this feedback to guide instruction. This critical advancement in CRS technology provides an opportunity to engage students in visual spatial reasoning (LaDue & Shipley, 2018).

This session will provide a brief review of the research on STEM learning and the types of visual-spatial problems that can be addressed using clickers. Participants will see several examples of student errors using geoscience diagrams and how clicker questions were used to support their learning. In the second half of the breakout session, participants will engage in identifying key diagrams or visual-spatial challenges associated with their discipline and propose questions that can be used to address those challenges. Participants will leave with instructional strategies and clicker questions to improve students’ visual-spatial thinking in their own classes.

Jenny Ross, University of Illinois at Chicago

Jenny Ross, University of Illinois at Chicago

Exploring Co-requisite Remediation: Successes and Challenges in co-requisite Developmental Math Courses

We have added co-requisite courses to our Mathematical Reasoning course, as well as our Intermediate Algebra course. Essentially, this allowed students who placed into Beginning Algebra, to start at a higher placement, with a support course.

We will discuss placement, design, implementation, results, and interesting lessons learned. Participants will also engage in activities from our co-requisite courses, with additional sample resources available for review. We will reserve time for your questions. We hope you join us in this ongoing conversation.

Erika Zocher, Northern Illinois University

Erika Zocher, Northern Illinois University

Chemistry Education in the Geosciences (poster session)

It is well established that chemistry is an integral discipline underlying many scientific concepts. However, chemistry also presents challenges and misconceptions that act as barriers for many students (Birk & Kurtz, 1999, Anderson & Libarkin, 2016, Barbera, 2013). This presentation will center on chemistry education in the geosciences, detailing results from a pilot study. This project aims to shed a light on discontinuities in undergraduate chemistry preparation as part of a geoscience degree and career. A survey was given out at the 2018 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Indianapolis this past November to assess attendees’ chemistry self-efficacy, their views on the importance of chemistry, and their chemistry preparation. Preliminary results from this survey will be shared in the form of a poster presentation. These results will compare responses from undergraduate students, graduate students, and experts. This information can help inform programs about curricular choices.