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News and Events 2019

dB-SERC News


Inclusion and the 'Leaky Pipeline' at Pitt

Dr. Chandralekha Singh, founder of dB-SERC, along with Dr. Sarah Hainer and Dr. Alison Slinsky Legg from the biology department and Dr. Alaine Allen from engineering were featured in a recent PittWire article about bias in STEM. The article discusses intersectionality, inclusive practices, and the importance of recognition for students from underrepresented groups.


2019 dB-SERC Award Recipients

The 11 recipients of the 2019 dB-SERC Course Transformation Awards have been recognized in an article in the University Times, as have two of the recipients of the 2019 dB-SERC Mentor/Mentee Awards. We also congratulate Jordan Swisher, Dr. Ericka Huston, and Dr. Peter Bell, our most-recent recipeints of the Mentor/Mentee Award.


Congratulations Leadership Award Recipients!

The recipients of the 2018-2019 dB-SERC Leadership Award have been announced. See the list here.


Growth Mindset for New Faculty

At the 2019 orientation for new faculty, Provost Ann Cudd stressed the importance of adopting the growth mindset theory of intelligence when working with students. "We are here to create talent and develop a growth mindset," she said. This will sound familiar to dB-SERC community members, who have seen how important instructor mindset is for promoting the learning of all our students. For more, read the article in the University Times online.


dB-SERC Featured in University Times

Our founder, Dr. Chandralekha Singh, has been featured in a great article in the University Times this week. The piece outlines the challenges we face as educators, and how dB-SERC and our community -- including two-time Course Transformation Award recipient Dr. Kyle Whittinghill -- are working to improve both student learning and equity in our courses. Read the article online.


2019 CAS Future Leaders

We are delighted to hear that dB-SERC community member Dr. Paulette Vincent-Ruz was recognized as a 2019 Future Leader by CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society. Dr. Vincent-Ruz recently completed her PhD, and has been instrumental in supporting and assessing projects in many departments. Read more about Dr. Vincent-Ruz's well-deserved award.


2019 Chemistry Lab Safety Award

The Departments of Chemistry and Environmental Health & Safety, and especially dB-SERC community member Dr. Ericka Huston, have been recognized for their pioneering work in lab safety. They have been selected to receive the SafetyStratus College and University Health and Safety Award for developing the most comprehensive laboratory safety program in higher education, awarded by the Division of Chemical Health & Safety of the American Chemical Society. Be sure to find out more during Dr. Huston's dB-SERC lunch talks over the coming year!



 

dB-SERC Events

Dec 4, 2019: Digital Alternatives to Development and Supplemental Instruction

  • Topic: Digital Alternatives to Developmental and Supplemental Instruction for Access and Equity in Foundational Undergraduate Courses
  • When: Wednesday, Dec 4 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: LRDC 2nd Floor Glaser Auditorium
  • Who: Dan Hickey (Indiana University)

Several widely-cited reports document the extensive evidence against using developmental education (DE) courses to help students with diverse experiences prepare for foundational (i.e., “gateway”) undergraduate courses. Remarkably small proportions of students who take DE courses go on to earn a passing grade in the corresponding foundational course.  Because minoritized students are much more likely be required or counseled to enroll in DE, this policy has devastating consequences for equitable access to desirable majors and degrees. Some experts suggest that all students should be given access to supplemental instruction (SI) to go alongside gateway course, but such programs can be very expensive for the university. More recently, universities have been exploring low-cost online learning environments.

This presentation describes two studies of the effectiveness of low-cost virtual alternatives to DE and SI using advanced statistical methods that effectively control for self-selection biases. The first involved the ALEKS Summer Prep for General Chemistry intelligent tutoring system offered an alternative to an existing 3-credit or 5-credit DE courses in chemistry.  The second involved the Programming in Python 3 Zybook interactive textbook used to replace an SI program that was cut for budgetary reasons. 

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Dec 2, 2019: Developing a Laboratory Component for GEOL 1515

  • Topic: Engaging student scientists to enhance our understanding of forest degradation and promote inquiry based scientific skills
  • When: Monday, Dec 2 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall
  • Who: Tiffany Betras (Biological Sciences)

During this lunch discussion, Tiffany Betras will share results from a course transformation project titled "Engaging student scientists to enhance our understanding of forest degradation and promote inquiry based scientific skills" which she has been working on in collaboration with Dr. Walter Carson. The purpose of this talk is to share ideas and feedback.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Nov 18, 2019: Developing a Laboratory Component for GEOL 1515

  • Topic: Developing a Laboratory Component for GEOL 1515: Environmental Chemistry
  • When: Monday, Nov 18 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall
  • Who: Dr. Kyle Whittinghill (Geology and Environmental Science)

During this lunch discussion, Dr. Kyle Whittinghill will give a first presentation about her new course transformation, "Developing a Laboratory Component for GEOL 1515: Environmental Chemistry," in which she developed a brand new lab component for this essential course for environmental science majors. The purpose of this talk is to share ideas and feedback on the development of this new lab component.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Nov 15, 2019: Epistemologically Inclusive Teaching in STEM

  • Topic: Epistemologically Inclusive Teaching in STEM (and not STEM, too)
  • When: Friday, Nov 15 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: LRDC 9th floor
  • Who: Dr. Linda Adler-Kassner, University of California Santa Barbara

To create inclusive teaching in STEM, we need to create intentional structures for students to understand how disciplines work: what kinds of questions are asked (and not asked), what kinds of data are collected (and not), how those data are analyzed, and how knowledge is represented. We also need to create teaching practices based on our own empathetic knowledge of students, and our understandings of how learning works.

In this interactive talk, we’ll work together to outline two knowledge domains associated with inclusive teaching: disciplinary knowledge and empathetic knowledge. I’ll provide a framework to understand these domains, concrete illustrations of how and why they contribute to inclusive teaching, and steps that faculty can take to act on their disciplinary and empathetic knowledge to foster epistemologically inclusive teaching in STEM disciplines.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Nov 11, 2019: dB-SERC Awards Ceremony

  • When: Monday, Nov 11 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

We invite you to a special dB-SERC lunch this coming Monday, Nov 11 at 12:00 in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, we will recognize the contributions to science teaching and the dB-SERC community made by the 2019 Course Transformation and Mentor/Mentee Award and the 2018/2019 dB-SERC Leadership Award recipients. Our special guest who will give out the dBSERC awards is the Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Studies, Joe McCarthy. Following the award presentation, Dr. Chandralekha Singh, founder and director of dB-SERC, will present a short talk titled "Inclusive Mentoring".

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Nov 7, 2019: Dual-Process Theories and Student Learning

  • Topic: Dual-Process Theories and Student Learning
  • When: Thursday, Nov 7 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Thursday, November 7 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. Dr. Beth Lindsey will share her research on dual-process theories and student learning. The abstract follows:

For more than 30 years, research-based and research-validated instructional materials developed by the Physics Education Research community have helped improve student conceptual understanding of introductory physics. An emerging body of research, however, has shown that, even after research-based instruction, students who demonstrate correct conceptual understanding and reasoning on one task often fail to use the same knowledge and skills on related tasks. Observed inconsistencies can be accounted for by dual-process theories of reasoning, which assert that human cognition relies on two thinking processes. The first, the heuristic process, is fast, intuitive, and automatic, while the second, the analytic process, is slow, effortful, and deliberate. Inconsistencies may arise when students “abandon” formal reasoning in favor of ideas that are more intuitively appealing in the moment. In this talk, I will demonstrate how dual-process theories can be applied to the analysis of student reasoning in physics. I will also discuss new methodologies that have been developed to help disentangle student conceptual understanding from their reasoning skills. I will share samples of newly-developed tasks and student data from these tasks, and discuss implications for instruction.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Oct 31, 2019: Advancing Engagement and Availability with Technology

  • Topic: Utilizing Technology to Advance Engagement and Availability in Large Lecture General Chemistry Courses
  • When: Thursday, Oct 31 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 102 Benedum Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Thursday, October 31 from 12 – 1 pm in 102 Benedum Hall. Dr. Michelle Ward will share progress on her efforts to improve and expand ways for students to receive support in large-enrolment general chemistry courses by using Shindig and other digital tools. The purpose of this talk is to reflect on how technology can be used to improve our courses, and to give feedback on this course transformation.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Oct 24, 2019: Patients in Literature's Pages

  • Topic: Patients in Literature's Pages
  • When: Thursday, Oct 24 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 102 Benedum Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Thursday, October 24 from 12 – 1 pm in 102 Benedum Hall. Dr. Nancy Pfenning, Senior Lecturer Emeritus, will be talking about the new Honors course "Patients in Literature's Pages" that she developed and is currently teaching, supported by a dB-SERC grant. She would welcome your input on how the university might help to sustain interdisciplinary courses like this one, that aren't necessarily housed in a particular department.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Oct 14, 2019: Computational Methods in a Flipped Format

  • ​Topic: Computational Methods in a Flipped Format
  • When: Monday, Oct 14 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, October 14 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. David Nero will introduce his new Course Transformation project focused on PHYS 1321, Computational Methods in Physics. The purpose of the this discuss is to share and give feedback for this exciting course transformation.

This talk will be postponed because of illness.


Oct 7, 2019: Statistical Learning and Data Science

  • Topic: Statistical Learning and Data Science
  • When: Monday, Oct 7 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, October 7 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Lucas Mentch will share the results of his Course Transformation Award work on developing a new course, Statistical Learning and Data Science. The purpose of the this discuss is to learn about successes and difficulties, and to reflect on the work that has been done.

​Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Oct 1, 2019: Mentoring Program in General Chemistry

  • Topic: Mentoring Program in General Chemistry
  • When: Tuesday, Oct 1 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 307 Eberly Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Tuesday, October 1 from 12 – 1 pm in 307 Eberly Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Margaret Vines and Ryan Lidgett will present the first talk associated with their mentor-mentee award, in which UTU/UTAs serve as mentors for students in General Chemistry. The purpose of the lunch discussion is to give the team feedback and ideas on this project.​

*** Please note that this lunch discussion will be in 307 Eberly Hall ***
https://www.tour.pitt.edu/tour/eberly-hall

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Sep 23, 2019: Exploring SEISMIC at the University of Pittsburgh

  • ​Topic: Exploring SEISMIC at the University of Pittsburgh
  • When: Monday, Sep 23 from 12:00 - 1:30 pm
  • Where: O'Hara Student Center Ballroom [NOTE: SPECIAL LOCATION]

The next dB-SERC lunch will take place Monday, September 23 from 12 – 1 pm in the O'Hara Student Center Ballroom.  This special workshop is designed to help expand awareness of and interest in participation in the SEISMIC project. It takes participants through discussions of equity and inclusion drawn from real-world classroom scenarios, highlights potential equity and inclusion issues present in their own STEM classes, and helps them see how SEISMIC might help to address them. Presenters will introduce the SEISMIC collaboration, describe our three scientific Working Groups and their key projects, and outline how interested individuals can get involved.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Sep 16, 2019: Adapting NMR Lessons

  • ​Topic: Adapting NMR Lessons
  • When: Monday, Sep 16 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, September 16 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Jordan Swisher, Dr. Ericka Huston, and Dr. Peter Bell will present the first talk associated with their mentor-mentee award, “Adapting Chem 0345 NMR Lessons for the Modern Organic Chemistry Laboratory.” The purpose of the lunch discussion is to give the team feedback and ideas on this project.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Sep 9, 2019: Social Belonging Interventions

  • ​Topic: Guided Questions in Introduction to Psychology
  • When: Monday, Sep 9 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, September 9 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Melinda Ciccocioppo will give the first talk for her new course transformation award, “The use of guided questions to organize material in Introduction to Psychology.” The purpose of the lunch discussion is to give Dr. Ciccocioppo feedback and ideas on this project.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Sep 3, 2019: Social Belonging Interventions

  • ​Topic: Social-Belonging Interventions
  • When: Tuesday, Sep 3 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Tuesday, September 3 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Kevin Binning from the Department of Psychology will give the third and final talk of his course transformation award. During the lunch, Dr. Binning will share the latest findings from the interventions, including data on student GPA two years later. The purpose of the lunch discussion is to reflect on the impact of this work and to discuss next steps for supporting all students in introductory classes.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Aug 26, 2019: Developing Scientific Writing Abilities

  • ​Topic: Developing scientific writing abilities through scaled guided and active learning cycles
  • When: Monday, Aug 26 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

 
The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, August 26 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Eugene Wagner and Clinton Johnson will give a first talk about their course transformation, "Developing scientific writing abilities through scaled guided and active learning cycles," for which they received a dB-SERC Course Transformation Award. The purpose of the lunch discussion is to provide feedback on the implementation of this project and to encourage an interchange of ideas.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Aug 20, 2019: Generating Student Interest

  • ​Topic: Generating student interest in Basic Physics I to improve attitudes and approaches to problem solving
  • When: Tuesday, Aug 20 from 12 - 1 pm [NOTE: DIFFERENT DAY]
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Tuesday, August 20 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Melanie Good from the physics department will give a first talk about her course transformation, “Generating student interest in Basic Physics I to improve attitudes and approaches to problem solving". The purpose of the lunch discussion is to provide feedback on the implementation of this project and to encourage an interchange of ideas.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Aug 12, 2019: Goal-Based Scenarios

  • Topic: Using goal-based scenarios to enhance 21st century skills for environmental professionals
  • When: Monday, Aug 12 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, August 12 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Danielle Andrews-Brown will introduce a new course transformation project, “Using goal-based scenarios to enhance 21st century skills for environmental professionals”. The purpose of the lunch is to learn about the project and offer feedback to Dr. Andrews-Brown.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Aug 1, 2019: Summer Workshop for Creative Science Writing

  • Topic: Summer Workshop for Creative Science Writing
  • When: Thursday, Aug 1 from 12 - 1 pm   [NOTE: DIFFERENT DAY]
  • Where: LRDC 9th floor [NOTE: DIFFERENT LOCATION]

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Thursday, August 1 from 12 – 1 pm on the 9th floor of the LRDC. During the lunch, Dr. Lillian Chong will share her experiences organizing the Summer Workshop in Creative Science Writing for undergraduate students.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


July 9, 2019: Making STEM classrooms inclusive

  • Topic: Making STEM classrooms inclusive
  • When: Tuesday, July 9 from 12 - 1 pm   [NOTE: DIFFERENT DAY]
  • Where: LRDC 9th floor [NOTE: DIFFERENT LOCATION]

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Tuesday, July 9 from 12 – 1 pm on the 9th floor of the LRDC. During the lunch, Dr. Tim Nokes-Malach will lead a short workshop on using motivational characteristics for understanding the underrepresentation of women in physics and how we can make STEM classrooms inclusive and improve learning.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


June 25, 2019: Lab TA Training

  • Topic: Lab TA Training: How we prepare TAs to teach introductory physics labs, and how we know it works
  • When: Tuesday, June 25 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

During the lunch, Danny Doucette and Dr. Russell Clark will discuss their course transformation focused on training graduate student TAs for introductory physics labs.

At the University of Pittsburgh, introductory physics labs are run by graduate student teaching assistants (TAs). Thus, efforts to reform introductory labs should address the need for effective and relevant TA training. We developed and implemented a research-backed training program that focuses on preparing TAs to effectively support inquiry-based learning in the lab. We identify positive direct, first-order, and second-order results by examining lab TA written reflections, the nature of TA-student interactions in the lab, and students' attitudes toward experimental science. Our results suggest that if TAs buy-in to this training, it can have a real and positive impact on TA performance and student learning.​

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


June 10, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussion

  • Topic: Failure of the Testing Effect: Frequent Testing Not Associated with Higher Exam Scores in a Large, Lecture-Based Developmental Psychology Course
  • When: Monday, June 10 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

Frequent exposure to information in a test format leads to an improvement in subsequent performance, a phenomenon known as the testing effect (Roediger et al., 2011). In an attempt to leverage the testing effect, I implemented twice weekly, on-line, out-of-class quizzes in a large lecture-based course in Developmental Psychology. The goal of this research is to test whether these quizzes had a positive impact on subsequent exam scores.

Nearly all students completed the quizzes and nearly all had perfect scores (median = 96%; M = 100%), so individual differences in quiz scores were not informative. Instead, the degree of content overlap between quiz questions and exam items was used to measure of the impact of the quizzes on exam scores. The result was that there was no relationship between topical relatedness of questions and student scores (r = .05, n.s.).

In this talk, I will review these results, first presented last fall, and describe a number of changes I made in the spring semester as a result of what I learned. 

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


May 28, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussion

  • Topic: Using 3D printed models to promote student understanding of macromolecular structure/function and spatial interactions
  • When: Tuesday, May 28 from 12 - 1 pm [DIFFERENT DAY]
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Tuesday, May 28 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Zuzana Swigonova will introduce a new Course Transformation entitled, “Using 3D printed models to promote student understanding of macromolecular structure/function and spatial interactions.” The purpose of the lunch discussion is to share ideas and offer suggestions for the project. We hope to see you there!

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


May 22, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussion

  • Topic: Progressing toward research in honors general chemistry laboratory
  • When: Wednesday, May 22 from 12 - 1 pm [DIFFERENT DAY]
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Wednesday, May 22 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Eugene Wagner will share the results of his dB-SERC Course Transformation in a talk titled “Progressing toward research in honors general chemistry laboratory.” The purpose of the lunch discussion is to reflect on the results of the project and to encourage an interchange of ideas. We hope to see you there!

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


May 13, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussion

  • Topic: Flipping Physics 2
  • When: Monday, May 13 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, May 13 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Matteo Broccio will lead a discussion about the transformation of "Introduction to Physics 2" from a traditional lecture-based course to a flipped course, for which he received a dB-SERC Course Transformation Award. The purpose of the lunch discussion is to reflect on the results of the project and to encourage an interchange of ideas. We hope to see you there!

 


April 3 and 5, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussions

We’re thrilled to announce TWO exciting dB-SERC lunch discussions by leading experts next week. Abstracts and speaker profiles are on the registration pages. Please note the special days, locations, and times.

  • Supporting interdisciplinary learning: Experiences and results from teaching physics to life science students

On Wednesday, April 3 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall, Dr. Catherine Crouch from Swathmore College will discuss instruction in "service" courses where an interdisciplinary approach can be motivating and effective for students. If you are planning to attend, please register online.

  • Learner-Centered Pedagogies and the Big Picture of “Evidence-Based” Educational Practices

On Friday, April 5 from 1 – 2 pm on the 9th floor of the LRDC, Dr. Gabriela Weaver from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, will discuss evidence-based approaches to education, and the evidence supporting their adoption. If you are planning to attend, please register online.


March 26, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussion

  • Topic: Using TopHat to personalize student learning and expand the scientific skillset in a large biological science classroom
  • When: Tuesday, March 26 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

During the lunch discussion, Dr. Candice Damiani from the biological sciences department will discuss her project “Using TopHat to personalize student learning and expand the scientific skillset in a large biological science classroom” for which she received a dB-SERC course transformation award. We hope to see you there!

Personalized learning is rarely attained in large, introductory biological science courses. Although this is often an environment where personalized learning is most needed due to the diverse student population, the size of the course, the logistics of providing individualized content and assessment, and the grading demands make personalized learning difficult to achieve. Dr. Damiani will incorporate personalized learning in a large enrollment biology course through the use of TopHat, an in-class, online learning platform. TopHat will allow for personalized student skill assessment and skill building as it allows for secure, digital tests that students can take on their own devices during class. The professor will be able to identify each student’s strengths and weaknesses and homework assignments will be created via TopHat that focus on enhancing students’ scientific skills. The purpose of the lunch discussion is to provide feedback on the project and encourage an interchange of ideas. 

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


March 18, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussion

  • Topic: Expanding the physics exploration center with virtual experiments
  • When: Monday, March 18 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

During the lunch discussion, Dr. David Nero from the physics and astronomy department will discuss the implementation of his project, “Expanding the physics exploration center with virtual experiments,” for which he received a dB-SERC course transformation award. Each semester, hundreds of students in introductory physics courses visit the Physics Exploration Center (PEC) to work with hands-on physics experiments at their own pace. These experiments are designed to lead students to a stronger conceptual understanding of physics by challenging their preconceptions of the physical world. Unfortunately, the scope of experiments that are practical to include at the PEC is limited because students need to be able to complete the experiments with minimal guidance, which excludes many potential learning opportunities because the equipment is difficult to use without training. To remedy this issue, Dr. Nero designed twelve new experiments for the PEC using a 360 degree 3-D camera. Students view these experiments at the PEC using a virtual reality headset. The combination of a headset paired with 360 degree 3-D video gives students the experience of actually standing in front of the equipment. The student will then proceed with data analysis as if they had just collected the data themselves. Dr. Nero hopes that the new virtual experiments improved student attitudes about physics and learning. The purpose of the lunch is to share the results of this exciting initiative. We look forward to seeing you there!

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


March 4, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussion

  • Topic: Speaking of Science
  • When: Monday, March 4 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

During the lunch discussion, Dr Judy Cameron and Dr Alan Sved will discuss a course in the Department of Neuroscience they have taught for many years called Speaking of Science.  The main goal of this course is for students to develop skills in talking about science to other scientists and to the public. The purpose of the lunch discussion is to share the motivation and design of the course, and perhaps to inspire instructors to consider creating similar courses for their own departments. We look forward to seeing you there!

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


February 25, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussion

  • Topic: Using Gradescope to facilitate the efficient grading of exams and assignments
  • When: Monday, February 25 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

During the lunch discussion, Dr Tara Meyer and Dr Jennifer Laaser from the chemistry department will share their experiences with Gradescope. Gradescope is an online tool that makes grading paper-based exams more efficient and improves the possibilities for providing feedback. The purpose of the lunch discussion is to learn about this exciting tool and reflect on how it might be useful in our classes.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


February 18, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussion

  • Topic: Creating a Comprehensive Bank of Materials for Use in Statistics and Probability for Business Management
  • When: Monday, February 18 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

During the lunch discussion, Dr Bryan Nelson from the statistics department will discuss his project “Creating a Comprehensive Bank of Materials for Use in Statistics and Probability for Business Management” for which he and Dr Nancy Pfenning received a dB-SERC course transformation award. They undertook a transformation of materials in Stat 1100 to consolidate and enhance existing materials in order to ensure fair and appropriate content for all instructors, especially those who are newly hired. Dr Nelson will share about initial experiences with the new resources, updates to the materials, and student reactions. The purpose of the lunch discussion is to provide feedback on the project and encourage an interchange of ideas.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


February 11, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussion

  • Topic: Incorporating Cooperative Learning Activities into GEOL 0840
  • When: Monday, February 11 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place on Monday, February 11 from 12 - 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr Kyle Whittinghill from the Department of Geology and Environmental Science will discuss the implementation of an exciting course transformation for which she received a dB-SERC course transformation award. She has incorporated active learning activities such as Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) activities, pre-lecture videos, and formative assessments into a large introductory environmental science course. The purpose of the lunch discussion is to share the challenges and successes of implementing this course transformation. We hope to see you there!

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


February 4 and 5, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussion and workshop

This week, we are very excited to welcome Dr Kathy Harper from Ohio State University for two very special dB-SERC events.

The Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors program at The Ohio State University was developed so that first-year students contemplating engineering could solidify their understanding of what engineering is, the kinds of activities engineers engage in, and the elements of engineering design. In the second semester, the most popular course option is the design-and-build robotics course. The class has been developed to give students a fairly complete picture of an engineering project, including planning, budgeting, documentation, and of course the technical aspects of designing, programming, constructing, and testing a robot. This project, which has been around for nearly 25 years, has a tradition of incorporating educational research, both by basing course refinements on results in the science education literature and also by assessing the impact of course modifications on the student and teaching assistant experiences. This presentation will give an overview of the project and provide multiple examples of how educational research has guided the development of the course. STEM instructors of all disciplines will see applicability to their own courses.

Setting up a successful team project in a course requires more from the instructor than putting the students in groups and telling them the objectives. The literature on cooperative learning identifies five core elements for a successful teamwork experience: face-to-face promotive interaction, positive interdependence, small group social skills, independent accountability, and group reflection [1]. In this highly interactive session, participants will reflect upon teamwork experiences that have gone well and gone poorly to better understand the role of each of these key cooperative learning aspects. They will also apply this structure to several course projects from the participants’ own experiences. Finally, examples from the presenters’ experiences teaching a large freshman design project will be shared and viewed within the framework of the cooperative learning literature. Participants will leave this session with a variety of possible approaches for bringing more structure to cooperative learning situations in their courses.

[1] Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T., & Smith, K.A. (1991). Active learning: Cooperation in the college classroom. Edina, MN: Interaction.


January 28, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussion

  • Topic: Transforming Interactive Lecture Demonstrations
  • When: Monday, January 28 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place on Monday, January 28 from 12 - 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr Rashid Williams-García will present initial work done with Dr David Nero to transform interactive lecture demonstrations using Labview. The purpose of this lunch discussion is to learn about this exciting initiative, share ideas, and provide feedback on the project. We look forward to seeing you there!

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


January 9, 2019: dB-SERC lunch discussion

  • Topic:  Aligning Teaching Methods and Students' Learning Needs
  • When: Wednesday, January 9 from 12 - 1 pm (NOTE: different day)
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place on Wednesday, January 9 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Armin Schikorra from the mathematics department will discuss his course transformation: “Aligning teaching methods and students’ learning needs: Active learning vs. traditional classrooms.”

Most students in science and engineering programs start their university career by enrolling in the calculus sequence. In addition, the student body of the University of Pittsburgh is heterogeneous: students come to the university with a wide array of learning needs, from different cultural backgrounds, and from different educational systems. Dr. Schikorra plans to personalize calculus education by tailoring the educational approach to the individual traits, needs, and levels of each student. He is developing a group-work and active-learning based Calculus I course, and he will investigate what kinds of students thrive in which teaching environment. The goal is to offer a variety of Calculus courses which have consistent learning goals yet allow for different teaching approaches while making reliable recommendations to new students which teaching methods would suit them best. This is the first dB-SERC course transformation being implemented in the mathematics department. The purpose of the lunch discussion is to provide feedback on the project and encourage an interchange of ideas.​ We hope to see you there!

Click here to register for the lunch discussion