2012 STEM Institute

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The 2012 Regional STEM Institute of Teaching and Learning was held on Saturday, April 14, at the Classic Center in Athens.  The one-day conference drew 65 participants mainly from UGA, but also from five other colleges/universities and local K-12 schools.  UGA Vice President for Instruction Laura Jolly provided opening remarks and Kamau Bobb, STEM Initiative Coordinator from the USG Board of Regents, provided an excellent overview of the importance of STEM education at the national and state levels.

Parallel sessions throughout the day showcased the excellent work to improve teaching and learning in STEM courses that is being conducted at UGA as well as other selected higher education institutions in the region.  Also featured were STEM partner programs at UGA whose missions are to increase student interest, access, and success in STEM courses.  Many of the sessions were devoted to progress reports from UGA faculty members involved in STEM mini-grants. Built into the presentation time was an opportunity for discussion among the participants to share their experiences in improving teaching and learning and to provide formative feedback.  According to the evaluations, the STEM Institute has proved to be highly successful.

Thanks to the presenters and participants for helping to make the STEM Institute a success. The Office of STEM Education is looking forward to hosting the 2nd Annual STEM Institute next spring.

To see photos from the conference, visit the flickr page of OSE UGA!

STEM Education Reform: National, State and Institutional Contexts

Dr. Kamau Bobb, USG STEM Initiative Coordinator and Dr. Charles Kutal, UGA Associate Dean, A&S and Director, Office of STEM Education

This keynote panel provides an overview of the importance of STEM education at the national and state levels.  In his remarks, Dr. Bobb explained that the Governor and the leaders of both the University System and the Technical Colleges are embarking on a significant plan to improve the college completion rate in Georgia. A critical component of the “Complete College Georgia Plan” is improving STEM education.  More information may be found at: http://www.usg.edu/educational_access/college_completion or click here. (Audio)(Powerpoint)

Implementation of Cognitive Load Theory into Electronic Homework Assignments 

Dr. Charles H. Atwood, Chemistry Department, The University of Utah

We implemented Cognitive Load Theory based homework questions into the JExam system at UGA.  Results indicate that this has a statistically significant improvement of more than 10% in student performance on succeeding tests. Authors: Derek A. Behmke, Charles H. Atwood (Audio)(Powerpoint)

Using Caselets for Reflection on Teaching Dilemmas

Dr. Kristen Miller, Division of Biological Sciences, The University of Georgia

Caselets are professional development materials designed to assist science instructors with successful implementation of science teaching reform in laboratory environments.  Development and dissemination of caselets will be shared. Authors: Kristen Miller, Jennifer Munhofen

Development of a Video Game as a Tool to Teach “Heat Transfer” Fundamentals in Undergraduate Courses

Dr. Fanbin Kong, Food Science and Technology Department, The University of Georgia

We are developing a video game as a teaching tool for undergraduate students to learn the basics of heat transfer theory and develop problem solving skills.  It is expected to engage, motivate, and inspire students to learn by themselves unlike traditional class lectures and labs.  Authors: Som Downs, Michael Meindl, Adam Blaschke, Fanbin Kong.


SOLVE-IT! Helping Students Learn to Solve Higher-Order Questions

Dr. Paula P. Lemons, Plant Biology Department, The University of Georgia

How do students solve higher-order, multiple-choice questions? We researched this question, and in response built SOLVE-IT!—a self-directed, online, problem-solving tutorial.  I will present our findings and SOLVE-IT! Authors: Paula P. Lemons, Luanna Prevost, and Hyun S. Kim

Project FOCUS: A Partnership between Elementary Schools and The University of Georgia 

Dr. David Knauft, Horticulture Department and Director of Project FOCUS, The University of Georgia

This presentation will describe a service-learning program that brings elementary school teachers and university science majors together to enhance science instruction in grades K-5.  Author: David Knauft (Audio)(Powerpoint)

Developing a Transformative Knowledge System (TKS) for Pre-service Science Teachers     

Dr. J. Steve Oliver, Mathematics and Science Education Department, The University of Georgia

We aim to develop, implement, and research a technology-enhanced transformative knowledge system (TKS) to help students and teachers better organize, integrate, and transform science knowledge. Authors: Ji Shen and J. Steve Oliver

“Science-PeTS”: A Project for Learning about Biodiversity 

Ms. Julianne A. Wenner (Mathematics and Science Education Department) and Dr. Kathrin F. Stanger-Hall (Plant Biology Department), The University of Georgia

To help introductory biology students learn about biodiversity and species interactions, we have created a web-based learning tool: Science-PeTS (Personal Teaching Species) for an in-depth scientific exploration of exemplary species. (Audio) (Powerpoint)

Linking Climate Change and Evolution in Pre-service Science Teacher Education: What Is Its’ Current Status and Where Do We Need to Go?

Dr. Deborah Tippins, Dr. Norm Thomson, Mr. Len Bloch, and Ms. Shannon Dubois, Mathematics and Science Education Department, The University of Georgia

Scientists are constructing new understandings of climate’s influence on evolution. This study investigated pre-service teachers’ understanding of the relationship between climate change and evolution and the factors which facilitated or constrained their ability to integrate this topic into their teaching practice. (Powerpoint)

Enhancing Research Skills and Attitudes in Undergraduate Organic Chemistry via Organic Synthesis          

Dr. Richard Pennington, Chemistry Department, Georgia Gwinnett College

Georgia Gwinnett College Chemistry faculty attempt to enhance student research and synthesis skills through the use of a semester-long, multi-step synthesis project performed during the Organic Chemistry II lab. (Powerpoint)

Peach State LSAMP: Strengthening the STEM Pipeline in Georgia 

Dr. Angela Y. Birkes, Peach State LSAMP Director, The University of Georgia

The Peach State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (Peach State LSAMP) is funded by the National Science Foundation to significantly increase the number of underrepresented minorities completing baccalaureate degrees and pursuing STEM careers. The Peach State LSAMP has had success in meeting its mission in the last six years. (Powerpoint)

Isolating, Identifying and Characterizing Bacteriophages: New Course Designs that Target STEM Educators, K-12 Teachers and Undergraduate Students

Drs. Amanda Chase and Samuel Mutiti, Biological and Environmental Sciences, Georgia College and State University

With social networking and multimedia distractions on the rise, it is more important than ever that STEM educators engage students’ interest and to do this we must think creatively about how we educate future scientists, science teachers, and a scientifically-literate public.  The goal of our project is to inspire K-12 students to follow a STEM path and to retain undergraduates in the STEM pipeline.  The experimental course design involves isolating, identifying and characterizing phages that are present in dirt and water-dwelling bacteria.  The proposed experiments will be implemented in two introductory laboratory-based courses that target undergraduate biological and environmental science students who have chosen to become K-12 educators.  In addition, a modified research protocol will be implemented in the K-12 setting. (Powerpoint)

Reflection as a Way of Integrating Student Learning across Science, Technology, Engineering and Math     

Drs. Joachim Walther and Nicki Sochacka, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Georgia

Deliberate reflection has been shown to improve student learning and development. Our work focuses on using emotional indicators to trigger student recollection and sense-making of critical learning incidents. Authors: Nicki Sochacka, Eliana Mozo-Reyes, Joachim Walther, and Nadia Kellam

BreakThru: A STEM Mentoring Community in Avatar-based Virtual Reality for Students with Disabilities   

Dr. Gerri Wolfe, Regents’ Center for Learning Disabilities and BreakThru, The University of Georgia

BreakThru combines social networking and virtual communities to encourage students with disabilities to pursue STEM majors. Students engage using Avatars to access virtual mentoring, academic, transition, and research assistance. (Powerpoint)

Using Short Answer Questions in Very Large Classes 

Dr. Norris Armstrong, Division of Biological Sciences, The University of Georgia

This presentation is based on using technology and undergraduates to administer and return short answer questions in very large introductory classes. (Powerpoint)

Education with Ferrofluids   

Dr. Leidong Mao, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Georgia

We will introduce and demonstrate ferrofluids (magnetic liquids) as a new, low cost and amazing educative tool for high school students. Authors: Rui Cheng, Taotao Zhu, Leidong Mao

Leveraging the NSF Broader-Impacts Criterion for Change in STEM Education

Dr. Chuck Kutal (Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences), Dr. Russell Malmberg (Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences), and Dr. Leidong Mao, (Faculty of Engineering); The University of Georgia

The National Science Foundation and other federal agencies increasingly are linking research funding to broad national impact. The panel will discuss how faculty can strengthen the Broader Impact statement in their research proposals by incorporating STEM education activities. (Powerpoint)

Providing Early Childhood Pre-service Teachers with Increased Science Content Knowledge and Effective Teaching Strategies

Dr. Lyndall Muschell, Early Childhood Education, Georgia College and State University

Early Childhood pre-service teachers consistently express reluctance to teach science based on their lack of knowledge and exposure to engaging strategies. Therefore, the primary goals for this project were to provide increased knowledge of science concepts, effective strategies, and resources to improve science instruction and to increase confidence for teaching science. (Powerpoint)

Using Biodiversity to Bridge the Undergraduate Experience          

Drs. James Russell, Clay Runck, and Allison D’Costa, Biology Department, Georgia Gwinnett College

Undergraduate students at Georgia Gwinnett College are engaged in a biodiversity research project that coordinates laboratory instruction from different courses toward a common research goal—species identification.  Authors: James Russell, Allison D’Costa, Clay Runck, Alessandra Barrera, Robert Haining, David Barnes, and Mark Schlueter

Loaded to the Max: Finding Time to Conduct SoTL Research          

Dr. Peggy Brickman (Plant Biology), Dr. Paula Lemons (Plant Biology), Dr. Kathrin Stanger-Hall (Plant Biology) and Dr. Craig Wiegert (Physics); The University of Georgia

Four faculty who are waist deep in both teaching and conducting SoTL research will provide a few tips to finding time to get it all done. (Powerpoint)

Faculty Attitudes toward Integrating Humanities into an Engineering Curriculum                   

Ms. Kerri Patrick-Singer (Workforce Education, Leadership and Social Foundations), Dr. Timothy Foutz (Faculty of Engineering), and Dr. Maria Navarro (Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication);The University of Georgia

We will discuss findings from a study assessing STEM and non-STEM faculty’s opinions, experiences, and attitudes concerning the educational reforms in their departments in addition to STEM reforms promoting topic integration.  In addition, we will discuss how an interdisciplinary consultant team was used to develop a module to help engineering faculty members who were not comfortable with infusing non-STEM content into their course material. Authors: Kerri Patrick-Singer, Maria Navarro, and Tim Foutz. (Powerpoint)