Breakout Sessions for Friday, February 21, 2020

Mary T. van Opstal, Harper College

Mary T van Opstal, Harper College, and Andrea van Duzor, Chicago State University

POGIL: How is the Learning Cycle used in POGIL activities
Abstract:

POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) is a student-centered instructional approach. In a typical POGIL classroom or laboratory, students work in small teams with the instructor acting as a facilitator. If you are new to POGIL or have used POGIL many times, come and learn about facilitation of group roles and how POGIL activities are intentionally designed to follow the learning cycle paradigm. The session will be completely interactive with participants engaging directly with the POGIL pedagogy as student participants while working together to understand the learning cycle used in POGIL activities.

Kristin Umland, Illustrative Mathematics

Kristin Umland, Illustrative Mathematics

The Power and Surprising Complexity of Number Line Diagrams
Abstract:

From elementary school through graduate school, the number line is one of the most powerful concepts for supporting students’ increasingly abstract understanding of the real numbers. In this session, we will analyze and discuss a sequence of mathematics tasks that spans K-16 that use number line diagrams. This exercise in task design analysis will illuminate how careful attention to design choices can support students’ increasingly sophisticated understanding of the real number system.

Barbara Berchiolli, Harold Washington College

Barbara Berchiolli and Laurie Erickson, Harold Washington College

The Dangers of Pseudo-Science and How to Recognize Them
Abstract:

Social media constantly bombard us with “scientific studies and statistics.” However, we should question the value of such studies before believing their findings. Popularity does not validate any claims. Some scientific studies are unreliable and the “truths” they report mostly try to convince us to buy a product or service.

Instructors often ask themselves: How can we shield students from falling prey to pseudo-science theories and how can we measure ability to think critically? We have identified simple criteria for students to evaluate the claims of a scientific study. However, we have not yet found tools to measure student ability to retain and utilize this kind of critical thinking.

The purpose of our presentation is two-fold. First, we will discuss some criteria we have used to teach our undergraduate biology students to evaluate a scientific study for scientific merit. Second, we will invite our audience to work in small groups to identify, and then share with all participants, ways to measure student ability to think critically. Our ultimate goal is peer knowledge and resource sharing in the science teaching community to improve educational practices.

Martina Bode, University of Illinois at Chicago

Martina Bode, Ginevra Clark, and Richard DeJonghe, University of Illinois at Chicago

Adventures in Large Lectures, collaborative learning and newly designed classroom spaces
Abstract:

Introductory math and science classes are often taught in lecture format in large lecture halls. What happens when you move to flipped or blended classes? Faculty from Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics at UIC will share their experiences. The focus of this breakout will be to discuss the barriers and affordances to flipping a classroom, with an emphasis on practical support for participants’ own efforts.

In the past year UIC opened a handful of new large classroom spaces that are designed to foster active learning. All three presenting faculty will share their experiences teaching in both traditional spaces and the newly designed classrooms. Barriers that the faculty have overcome include (but are not limited to) large class sizes, overstuffed curriculum, faculty resistance, and time constraints. The affordances that faculty have leveraged include (but are not limited to) using TAs or undergraduate assistants, curricular reform, and building relationships. We encourage participants to share their experiences, barriers, and ideas so that we can collectively work towards engaged student learning.

Participants will have the opportunity to observe flipped mathematics classes in re-designed classrooms at UIC. Data on student success in the program will not be reported during the breakout. Rather, this data will be reported in poster presentations shared by participating faculty.

Shelby Hatch, Northwestern University

Shelby Hatch, Northwestern University

Lessons learned from teaching chemistry in prison
Abstract:

As part of the Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP), I taught an introductory college chemistry course to twenty-one incarcerated men this past fall quarter (2019). Many of the challenges that we face in our classrooms - students with wildly different backgrounds, preparation, and interest in the subject matter; inadequate in-class time; and lack of resources – are amplified in a prison environment. In this breakout session, I will highlight some specific challenges I encountered and how I responded to them. Participants will reflect on their own experiences teaching in constrained environments and how they have addressed similar challenges. Collaboratively, we will compile a virtual “toolkit” of ideas and resources for instructors to utilize in a variety of instructional settings.

Ben Aschenbrenner, Ivy Tech Community College

Ben Aschenbrenner, Ivy Tech Community College

Antiracism and Mathematics
Abstract:

Participants in this session will start with a simple math problem, based in probability. After a short discussion of the mathematics and the significance of the mathematics in terms of randomness, the participants will then shift to a discussion of student preparation in a quantitative reasoning classroom as a basis for an analysis of racism in modern America. The focus will be on understanding basic definitions and the ideas of anti-racism as outlined by Dr. Ibram X Kendi. Finally, the session will focus on understanding how classroom policies can either reinforce systemic racism in America or work to fight against it.

Handouts will include definitions and examples of classroom policies the presenter has used to address the impacts of differential preparedness.

Matthew Lee, University of Illinois at Chicago

Matthew Lee, University of Illinois at Chicago; Sarah Bockting-Conrad, DePaul University; and Elizabeth DeWitt, Trinity Christian College

Executing Inquiry Based Learning (IBL)
Abstract:

Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) is an active learning approach that helps students self-discover critical ideas and connections between them. In the broadest sense, the Academy of Inquiry Based Learning describes IBL as activities those that (1) facilitate collaboration of peers and (2) reach a deep engagement in rich mathematical activities. In our session we will give you an opportunity to experience this for yourself through an activity that will only require multiplication and addition. Thus, we welcome participants with varied experience with IBL and comfort with math.

Jennifer Mundt Leimberer, University of Illinois at Chicago

Jennifer Mundt Leimberer, University of Illinois at Chicago

Encouraging Deep Connections through Math Talk Routines
Abstract:

"Conceptual understanding is related to the richness and extent of the connections they have made," (National Research Council 2001) though teachers struggle to find the time and opportunities to develop these deep meaningful connections. During this session, participants will explore ways to modify the math talk or number talk routines to focus teachers’ attention on finding ways to promote this connection making in their students. We will engage in and analyze the affordances of a variety of math talk types, explore ways to tweak the routine, and find ways to sequence math talks to develop reasoning and promote relationships. We will also discuss ways math talks/number talks have been used as a venue for continued professional development.

Participants will first analyze a variety of math talk experiences as they engage in math talks with re-scribing and summarizing, number strings, and backward math talks. As well as engaging in these rich number sense focused experiences, participants will have the opportunity to design some math talks as well. The session will wrap up the session by discussing the challenges and affordances of using this instructional routine as a continued professional development activity. Participants will receive examples of math talks and the corresponding planning templates.

Renee Cole, University of Iowas

Renee Cole, University of Iowa

Feedback-focused Rubrics to Develop Student Intellectual & Practical Skills
Abstract:

Skills such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving are frequently cited as important outcomes for STEM degree programs. However, the development of these skills is often taken for granted, and they are rarely explicitly assessedin the classroom. Assessment serves two purposes: (1) providing a measure of achievement, and (2) facilitating learning by conveying what is valued in a course. This project has developed feedback-focused rubrics that serve as a resource for instructors to assess and support student skill development. In this facilitated discussion, participants will explore novel feedback rubrics and strategies for their classroom use in assessing practical skills. Participants will also reflect on the role of assessment and feedback as key elements in constructive alignment to achieve student learning outcomes.

Timmy Chan, University of Illinois at Chicago

Timmy Chan, Asma E-Sabbagh, and Kiley Pooler,, University of Illinois at Chicago

Impact on Self-Efficacy in Calculus Classrooms Utilizing Active Learning (poster) 
Abstract:

Self-efficacy in mathematical aptitude in university students has been observed to decline after time in a Calculus class in a national study that examined the relationship of self-efficacy with institutional factors. Traditionally, university math classrooms are lecture based with minimal student participation. Active learning environments show promise in increasing student engagement and participation. Designs in active learning classrooms and pedagogy claim to foster inquiry and deep learning. In this study, we surveyed students in a R1-public research university in the Midwest that has implemented active learning in Calculus classrooms to (1) measure self-efficacy changes in relation to demographic data, and (2) examine the impact on self-efficacy and performance by active learning. Students of different genders have different retention rates in the STEM pathway, and the survey data in this study show significant difference in the changes to self-efficacy between male, female, and non-binary students in Calculus classrooms. This finding reaffirms that self-efficacy of students may be related in choosing STEM pathways.

Bara Sarraj, Harold Washington College

Bara Sarraj, Harold Washington College

Student Performance in Critical Thinking Fluctuates in Biology Courses with a Better Performance in Microbiology vs. Non-biology Majors Students (poster)
Abstract:

“[Critical thinking is] . . . the examination and test of propositions of any kind which are offered for acceptance, in order to find out whether they correspond to reality or not” (Sumner, 1940). The purpose of this study is to track student performance in critical thinking questions and activities (Bloom scale 3 to 6). Individual scores in weekly quizzes, monthly lecture and lab exams, lab reports and presentations were recorded in courses of introductory biology and general microbiology for four consecutive semesters. Introductory biology students showed a decline in critical thinking performance, whereas microbiology students showed improvement. This decline warrants increased training of students in critical thinking and as redesigning class time to accommodate the required activities. The study findings should shed light on the teaching practices that might enhance or impede critical thinking in pedagogical settings.

Rebecca Busch, University of Illinois at Chicago

Rebecca Busch and Rick DeJonghe, University of Illinois at Chicago

A New Look at Teaching Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences & How Undergraduate Students Can Benefit a New/Developing Class (poster)
Abstract:

The Physics department at UIC is in the process of completely restructuring the introductory algebra-based physics sequence, drastically changing the content (e.g. deleting magnetism and covering thermodynamics instead) as well as de-emphasizing traditional lecture in place of active learning.  The new PHYS 131 and 132 incorporate group work in a studio-style classroom in place of half the lecture time to facilitate teamwork and conversation. Rather than watch problems worked out by the professor at the board, students work on the problems themselves with assistance from other classmates, TAs, peer leaders, and the professor. These guided problems are designed to teach problem-solving and critical thinking through "hands-on" experience, preparing students for their later homework assignments and exams.

Developing 60 hours of active-learning group activities along with corresponding homeworks while also significantly reworking course content has been a daunting task.  Undergraduate students who had previously taken introductory algebra-based physics have proved to be a great resource for developing the material, providing an outlook similar to that of the future students who will be taking the class. When developing content, it is easy to overlook possible tricky points for students seeing the material for the first time, especially when introducing material not typically taught at this level, like probability, random walks and diffusion, the Boltzmann distribution, and entropy.  Having undergraduates test the material before using it in class has proved (and is still proving) to be an invaluable resource in making the material accessible, pedagogical, and effective.

Jessica Perez, University of Illinois at Chicago

Jessica Perez, Theresa Garcia, Lianne Schroeder, Donald J. Wink, and Ginevra A. Clark, University of Illinois at Chicago

Different Classroom Settings Effect the Way Students Take Responsibility for Their Learning (poster)
Abstract:

The goal of this project is to compare the way students used resources in two different classroom settings. The data collected came from two classroom settings in an Organic Biochemistry class; one consisted of a traditional lecture and the other used in- class worksheets.

To analyze how the classroom settings differ we modified a COPUS Protocol to describe the classroom setting for each environment. Some of the data we coded for included: times the professor posed a question and answered them, the amount of teacher- student interaction, and the amount of writing the professor made on the board. The results show that the interaction was higher when students were working on in-class worksheets. This is proven because there is an increase in the amount of times the professor walked around to help individual students.

Although grades improve when they are in active learning environment, our goal was to see what students were doing and what resources they were using that helped them. Weekly surveys were given to the students during the semester to record what resources they used in specific course topics. The students had the option to pick any of the following; watched videos, attend office hours, working on practice problems and participation. The results show that there was an increase in finding lecture and discussion more helpful.

In addition, the survey consisted of an open response question which asked them, “what is it that you found difficult, and what are you going to change?” We coded to determine if students identified a course topic and a plan to improve. We found the students were less likely to “blame the professor” and more likely to identify a topic and come up with a plan in the reformed classroom. The results show that the learning environment supported the students in taking responsibility for their learning.

Martina Bode, University of Illinois at Chicago

Martina Bode, Jenny Ross, and Matthew Lee, University of Illinois at Chicago

Moving large lectures to collaborative learning in newly designed classrooms (poster)
Abstract:

Introductory math classes are often taught in large lecture halls. What happens when you move these classes into newly designed active learning spaces?

In response to low passing rates in introductory math classes, and 4-year graduation rates of 37%, we have been actively integrating active learning methods into our Introductory Calculus and Pre-Calculus classes.

Spring 2019, we opened a newly designed classroom designed to foster active learning in the classroom. This room seats 120 students at round tables. Each round table has a white board and an LCD screen. We moved all of our introductory Calculus I classes to the new classroom. Fall 2019, more active learning classrooms opened on campus. The designs are slightly different, but they are built with the idea of fostering active learning; some instructors even prefer the newer rooms.

This poster will summarize benefits, challenges, and first outcomes. We saw improved pass rates, in particular impressive increases in students receiving an A or B in these courses, and significant higher pass rates for Latinx students.

Asma El-Sabbagh, University of Illinois at Chicago

Asma El-Sabbagh, Milos Markovic, and Sara Sayeed, University of Illinois at Chicago

The Impact of Learning Assistants in Mathematics (poster)
Abstract:

The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the effectiveness of learning assistants, undergraduate students who support other students’ learning in interactive classroom environments. Learning assistants in each classroom are prepared to answer any questions students may ask about the lecture or worksheets. They also hold office hours in the Math and Science Learning Center for students to get help individually and in groups providing more collaborative learning opportunities. When dealing with college courses, especially mathematics, students tend to struggle in many ways: understanding the material, finding time outside of class to study, or simply lacking confidence in themselves. Learning assistants are able to guide and help students with these problems. This project showcases how much students are able to benefit by having learning assistants in and outside of the classroom.