Annual awards announced for dB-SERC Course Transformation

Transforming science courses can dramatically improve student learning, but can also require a substantial investment of time, energy, and resources.

Since 2014, the Discipline-Based Science Education Research Center (dB-SERC) has supported science faculty to transform their courses to adopt evidence-based pedagogy and push the boundary of college science education.

This year, nine projects were selected for dB-SERC Course Transformation Awards. The projects received funds to provide equipment, student support or summer salary for faculty. In addition, dB-SERC awarded two Mentor/Mentee awards to support projects conducted by students and faculty working together. The winning projects are:

Kevin R. Binning, Department of Psychology: Understanding How Classroom Contexts Shape Equity in STEM: Evaluating and Refining an Ecological Belonging Intervention Delivered at Scale

This project seeks to evaluate and revise an ecological belonging intervention which was delivered in Physics 174 classrooms in each of the past three years. The intervention seeks to improve student belonging in this gateway course by normalizing productive struggle and helping students recognize that it does get better.

Russell Clark, Department of Physics and Astronomy: Development of Teacher Guides and Rubrics for Introductory Physics Labs

The introductory physics labs were recently transformed to adopt an inquiry-based curriculum that involves new experiments and a new style of lab report. This project supports a graduate student to develop grading rubrics and an instructor’s guide for the new labs.

Brian M. Galla, Department of Applied Developmental Psychology, School of Education: Testing and Integrating a Mindfulness Resource in a Large Undergraduate STEM Course

Mindfulness training could help students who take STEM courses by reducing psychological threat when students experience difficulties. By combining a field experiment with the development of materials for classroom use, this project seeks to improve student resilience in introductory physics courses.

Jeremy Levy and Kevin Binning, Department of Physics and Astronomy: Delivering Ecological Belonging Intervention Via Video

Following on initial successes of an ecological belonging intervention developed by Kevin Binning, this project seeks to adapt the intervention to an upper-level course. In addition, this effort will use videotaping of students describing their experiences and challenges in order to explore the possibility of delivering the intervention through the powerful medium of video.

Peng Liu, Department of Chemistry: OrgoVR: Teaching Organic Chemistry with Virtual Reality

Visualizing and understanding the 3D structure and interactions of complex molecules is an important aspect of organic chemistry. This project will develop VR tools for both the Google Cardboard and Oculus platforms to help students more effectively visualize 3D structures and understand how those structures impact chemical properties.

David Nero, Department of Physics and Astronomy: Individualized Instruction for Physics 1

Past course transformations have allowed Dr. Nero to develop videos and learning materials to “flip” the introductory physics classroom, with significant learning benefits for students. In this project, he will make an expanded set of videos and resources to allow students to take control of their learning by choosing to watch videos and practice skills that are relevant to their personal learning needs.

Ben Rottman, Department of Psychology: Flipping Research Methods for Psychology

This project will “flip” the instruction in PSY 0035, Research Methods in the Department of Psychology. By doing so, Dr. Rottman aims to develop a course that has increased opportunities for students to engage in active learning, even as incoming students have a wide variety of prior preparation.

Armin Schikorra, Department of Mathematics: A research-based active-learning approach for Calculus II

Following the transition of Calculus I to a “flipped,” active learning format, this project aims to create materials and resources to allow for Calculus II to be similarly transformed. The goal of this transformation is to decrease the number of D/F grades and withdrawals from the introductory calculus sequence.

Mentor/Mentee Awards

Robert H. Wozniak and Heather Bruett, Department of Psychology: Intro 360

This project aims to develop a new framework for recitations for introductory psychology that will allow all enrolled students to learn about psychological research.

Ericka Huston, Peter Bell and Jordan Swisher: Adapting Chem 0345 NMR Lessons for the Modern Organic Chemistry Laboratory

This project introduced new coverage of nuclear magnetic resonance in the organic chemistry laboratory by developing a new lesson for this topic.