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News and Events 2020

dB-SERC News

2019-2020 dB-SERC Leadership Awards

We are excited to share that 14 dB-SERC community members have been recognized for their leadership in our community. For more details, see the article at the University Times.


Fall 2020 SEISMIC Events

SEISMIC, a collaboration of 10 universities working together to improve equity in introductory STEM courses, has launched their Fall 2020 Speakers Bureau. A number of the talks will be of interest to the dB-SERC community. See the talk schedule on the SEISMIC website.


2020 dB-SERC Course Transformation Awards

The University Times this week has an article about the 2020 recipients of dB-SERC Course Transformation and Mentor/Mentee Awards. We are very proud of the 9 recipients of the Course Transformation Award and the 2 recipients of the Mentor/Mentee Award for 2020. Read the full article online here.


Belonging Intervention Fosters Success

Snapshot, the newsletter of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, featured dB-SERC community members Dr. Ericka McGreevy, Dr. Kevin Binning, and Dr. Chandralekha Singh in a recent article. The feature describes their work to develop and implement an ecological belonging intervention in introductory biology and physics classes. The intervention has been shown to increase academic performance, attendance, and persistence, especially for students from historically underrepresented groups in those disciplines. For more, read the full article!


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.


 

dB-SERC Events

December 7, 2020: Development of a Lab Class on Introductory Chemical Biology

  • Topic: Development of a Lab Class on Introductory Chemical Biology
  • When: Monday, December 7 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place on Monday, December 7 from 12 – 1 pm. Dr. Kabirul Islam from the Chemistry Department will give his first talk about his course transformation. The purpose of the talk is to share ideas and give feedback and suggestions about the transformation.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


 

December 2, 2020: Inclusive Mentoring

  • Topic: Inclusive Mentoring
  • When: Wednesday, December 2 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place on Wednesday, December 2 from 12 – 1 pm. Dr. Kevin Binning and Dr. Chandralekha Singh will lead a discussion on inclusive mentoring.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


 

November 24, 2020: Integrating a Mindfulness Resource in a Large STEM Course

  • Topic: Integrating a Mindfulness Resource in a Large Undergraduate STEM Course
  • When: Monday, November 24 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place on Tuesday, November 24 from 12 – 1 pm. Dr. Brian Galla from the School of Education will give his first talk about his course transformation. The purpose of the talk is to share ideas and give feedback and suggestions about the transformation.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


 

November 10, 2020:  Envisioning a More Equitable Higher Education 

  • Topic: Envisioning a More Equitable HIgher Education
  • When: Tuesday, November 2 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place on Tuesday, November 10 from 12 – 1 pm. Sehoya Cotner from the University of Minnesota will lead a special talk about equity in higher education. The abstract is as follows:

In higher education—and especially the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines--women, first-generation college students, and students belonging to certain racial or ethnic groups enter exhibit greater attrition than do their male peers, a gap that continues throughout the professions. Some explanations for this phenomenon relate to student preparation or academic abilities, which is collectively known as the student deficit model. My colleagues and I have proposed the course deficit model, whereby instructional decisions exacerbate or minimize gaps in performance, participation, and retention. I will offer evidence--from my own work and that of others--in support of the course deficit model, in my discussion. Key to this discussion are the take-home messages that emerge for instructors; critically, many of them are easy to implement! Further, in this interactive discussion, we will identify and use several in-class assessment techniques.

Sehoya Cotner earned her PhD in Conservation Biology, but has turned her research focus to undergraduate biology education. She is particularly interested in evidenced-based teaching, especially as it relates to reducing or removing barriers to equity in STEM fields. Sehoya is currently focusing much of her work on performance and retention gaps that arise in introductory-level courses. Sehoya is PI of several NSF-funded initiatives emphasizing inclusive teaching, training teaching assistants to facilitate inquiry, and course-based research experiences. She has most recently published on the effect of class size on gender-biased performance gaps, participation gaps in biology and chemistry courses, the role of high-stakes tests in observed performance gaps (between men and women, and between first-generation college students and their continuing-generation counterparts), and how gender ratios impact in-class group dynamics. Current work highlights the role of hidden identities in active-learning settings. Sehoya has proposed, and continues to explore, the “Course Deficit Model,” whereby instructional choices can either increase or lower barriers to equity. She is the PI of a growing national network, EDU-STEM, and represents the U of Minnesota in SEISMIC.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


 

November 2, 2020:  Using a Socioscientific Issuses Teaching Approach 

  • Topic: Using a Socioscientific Issues Teaching Approach in an Undergraduate Astronomy Course
  • When: Monday, November 2 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, November 2 from 12 – 1 pm. John Radzilowicz from the Center for Teaching and Learning will give his talk about using a socioscientific issue teaching approach in his class. The abstract is as follows:

Using the exploration of Socioscientific Issues - i.e. scientific issues with social and public policy consequences - as part of a STEM teaching strategy has shown promise in increasing students' social and scientific reasoning, ability to engage in productive argumentation, and the understanding of the role of science in society.  John G. Radzilowicz, a doctoral candidate in STEM Education, staff member of the Center for Teaching and Learning, and adjunct instructor in the department of Physics & Astronomy, will lead a discussion of his recent research into the impact of the use of this approach as applied in a general education science course.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


 

October 27, 2020:  Ecological Belonging Intervention 

  • Topic: Rubrics, Delivering Ecological Belonging Intervention Via Video
  • When: Tuesday, October 27 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Tuesday, October 27 from 12 – 1 pm. Dr. Jeremy Levy and Dr. Kevin Binning from the Physics and Psychology Departments will give their first talk about their course transformation. The purpose of the talk is to share ideas and give feedback and suggestions about the transformation.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


October 19, 2020:  Intro Physics Labs

  • Topic: Rubrics, Remote Learning, and Collaboration in Intro Physics Labs
  • When: Monday, October 19 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, October 19 from 12 – 1 pm. Dr. Russell Clark and Danny Doucette from the Physics Department will give their first talk about their course transformation. The purpose of the talk is to share ideas and give feedback and suggestions about the transformation.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


October 12, 2020: Engaging students in basic physics

  • Topic: Engaging Students in Basic Physics
  • When: Monday, October 12 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, October 12 from 12 – 1 pm. Dr. Melanie Good from the Physics Department will give her third 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 reflect on the implementation of this project and to encourage an interchange of ideas. 

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


October 5, 2020: Gendered Performance Differences

  • Topic: Gendered performance differences, institutional change, and variations in disciplinary culture
  • When: Monday, October 5 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, October 5 from 12 – 1 pm. Dr. Becky Matz from the University of Michigan will lead a special talk about patterns of gendered performance differences in large-enrolment introductory STEM classes. The abstract follows:

Improving large, gateway STEM courses so that they best support student learning and persistence remains an active area of concern for a variety of reasons. In this talk, I will describe a range of studies that each, ultimately, is about improving the student experience in these foundational courses. I will share work focused on patterns of gendered performance differences across five large universities, using scientific practices and core ideas as the basis for institutional change in introductory science courses, and variations in the disciplinary cultures of science and math that have implications for change. 

Becky Matz recently started as a Research Scientist in the Research and Development unit at the University of Michigan's Center for Academic Innovation. Previously, Becky was an Academic Specialist in Research at Michigan State University. There she focused on STEM education assessment and research projects, connecting faculty with both quantitative and qualitative data, and developing tools for interdisciplinary assessment in introductory science courses. Becky earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in Chemistry and M.S. in Educational Studies from the University of Michigan. 

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


September 28, 2020: Remote Teaching and Learning

  • Topic: A Conversation about Remote Teaching and Learning
  • When: Monday, September 28 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, September 28 from 12 – 1 pm. Join us for a conversation about remote teaching and learning during COVID-19 in which we will discuss assessment strategies, equity issues and more

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


September 24, 2020: Active Learning in Calculus 2

  • Topic: Research-Based Active Learning in Calculus 2
  • When: Thursday, September 24 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Thursday, September 24 from 12 – 1 pm. Dr. Armin Schikorra from the mathematics department will introduce a new course transformation focused on the Calculus 2 course. The purpose of the talk is to share ideas and give feedback and suggestions about the transformation.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


September 14, 2020: Factors for Student Success

  • Topic: Factors for Student Success: The Potential of Identity, Motivation, and Belonging
  • When: Monday, September 14 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, September 14 from 12 – 1 pm. Dr. Allison Godwin from Purdue University will lead a special talk about identity that should be exciting and relevant for the dB-SERC community. The abstract follows:

Identity is an enduring and continuous sense of one’s self and is often thought of as the answer to the questions, “Who am I, Who can I be, and Where do I belong?” Research shows that developing a robust STEM identity is important for academic and personal development, integration into STEM fields, and academic success in STEM programs. In addition to identity, other factors like motivation and belonging have similar influence on student success. However, most institutions of higher education rely on cognitive measures, like grades, as a sole measure of student success, and intervention efforts often focus on academic skills required to perform well on these specific measures. Often, supporting students’ non-cognitive factors goes mostly ignored, although this area has gained interest in recent years. This talk will explore the current research on engineering identity as well as other non-cognitive factors and the emerging links to student success.

Allison Godwin, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education and of Chemical Engineering (by Courtesy) at Purdue University. She is also the Workforce Development Co-Director for the Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources (CISTAR), a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. Her research focuses how identity, among other affective factors, influences diverse students to choose engineering and persist in engineering. She also studies how different experiences within the practice and culture of engineering foster or hinder belongingness and identity development. Dr. Godwin graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


September 7, 2020: Individualized Instruction in Physics 1

  • Topic: Individualized Instruction for Physics 1
  • When: Monday, September 7 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, September 7 from 12 – 1 pm. Dr. David Nero from the department of physics will introduce a new course transformation. This transformation builds on his past success using flipped pedagogy, and aims to provide students with a choice of supplemental material connecting core videos. The purpose of this discussion is to share ideas and provide feedback.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


August 31, 2020: ECoach

  • Topic: ECoach: Personalized Academic Coaching at Scale
  • When: Monday, August 31 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, August 31 from 12 – 1 pm. Dr. Jennifer Ganger, Dr. Kitty Liu, and Dr. Jessica Wandelt will lead the discussion. The abstract follows:

ECoach is a personalized coaching tool developed at the University of Michigan that allows tailored communication and interventions for students in large enrollment courses. ECoach allows professors to personalize feedback to students, supporting student success in the short term, as well as in the long-term by promoting meta-cognitive and self-regulatory skills. We expect to see an increase in grades and a decrease in DFW rate for students who engage with the platform. During Fall 2020, we are piloting ECoach in BIOSC 0805, CHEM 0310, and PSY 0310 to learn the tool and measure student interest and use. We will share our experiences and discuss possible expansion of ECoach in the future to more classes and educational research.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


August 24, 2020: Guiding Questions in Intro to Psychology

  • Topic: Guiding Questions in Intro to Psychology
  • When: Monday, August 24 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, August 24 from 12 – 1 pm. Dr. Melinda Ciccocioppo from the department of psychology will lead the lunch discussion. The abstract follows:

During the 2019/2020 academic year, I transformed my Introduction to Psychology course by organizing material under guiding questions in an effort to enhance the relevance of the material for the typical undergraduate student. I’ll report preliminary results of this change with regard to students’ perceptions of the usefulness of the material, fascination with psychology, and feelings of belongingness in the course.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


August 3, 2020: Does Interactive Learning close the Gap?

  • Topic: Does Interactive Learning close the Gender Gap in Economics?
  • When: Monday, August 3 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, August 3 from 12 – 1 pm. Dr. Katherine Wolfe and Dr. Jane Caldwell will from Economics will lead the lunch discussion. The abstract follows:

A large course transformation in Economics at Pitt redesigned recitations to use active, collaborative learning activities and to include higher-level thinking in the learning objectives. This change in pedagogical techniques and course content caused an elimination of the gender gap in learning outcomes and a narrowing of the gender gap in women’s continuation to further classes in Economics.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


July 27, 2020: Developing Scientific Writing Abilities

  • Topic: Developing Scientific Writing Abilities Through Scaled Guided and Active Learning Cycles in the Physical Chemistry Laboratory
  • When: Monday, July 27 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, July 27 from 12 – 1 pm. During the lunch, Dr. Clinton Johnson and Dr. Eugene Wagner will present results with their course transformation focused on developing students' scientific writing abilities. The abstract follows:

Communicating both written and oral arguments are among the most important skills necessary to succeed in industry and graduate school. Chemistry majors tend to practice and develop the vast majority of their writing through laboratory courses and lab components aligned with lecture courses. Unfortunately, we find many students complete these courses with inadequate gains in writing skills leading to manuscripts that would be unacceptable for their future endeavors. We develop a programmatic and stepwise curriculum to improve technical writing skills through active learning and student-centered pedagogy. Over the course of a semester, students go through a multi-step learning cycle, Commence-Act-Review-Reply-Revise (CAR3), where each cycle focuses on a very specific aspect of writing a technical journal-style article. Each cycle commences with students composing a rough draft on a specific section of a lab report. Students then attend a writing workshop that interactively engages them with guided inquiry-based activities focused on the specific writing aspects addressed within the submitted rough drafts. After each workshop, students complete peer reviews on the rough drafts. Finally, students complete a final draft of the report using the knowledge gained from the workshop and the peer-reviewer input. We implement the CAR3 writing cycle in two semesters of a physical chemistry laboratory course. We gauge the effectiveness of our novel, scaffolded CAR3 cycle through pre/post writing efficacy along with comparisons to previous years. Each CAR3 cycle sequentially prepares students to construct a journal-style manuscript by the end of the semester.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


July 13, 2020: Ecological Belonging Intervention

  • Topic: Understanding How Classroom Contexts Shape Equity in STEM
  • When: Monday, July 13 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, July 13 from 12 – 1 pm. During the lunch, Dr. Kevin Binning from the Psychology department will introduce his new project, "Understanding How Classroom Contexts Shape Equity in STEM: Evaluating and Refining an Ecological Belonging Intervention Delivered at Scale". The project seeks to evaluate and revise an ecological belonging intervention that has been delivered in introductory biology and physics courses at the University of Pittsburgh.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


July 8, 2020: Mentoring Program in General Chemistry

  • Topic: Mentoring Program in General Chemistry
  • When: Wednesday, July 8 from 12 - 1 pm [NOTE: DIFFERENT DAY]
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Wednesday, July 8 from 12 – 1 pm. During the lunch, Dr. Margaret Vines and Ryan Lidgett will share results from with their mentor-mentee award, in which UTU/UTAs served as mentors for students in General Chemistry. The purpose of the lunch discussion is to reflect on the results and outcomes from this exciting initiative.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


June 29, 2020: Intro 360

  • Topic: Intro 360: A proposal for a customizable and interactive educational experience for Introduction to Psychology students
  • When: Monday, June 29
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place on Monday, June 29 from 12 – 1 pm. The discussion will be virtual, so please sign up using the link below to receive the Zoom link. During this dB-SERC lunch discussion, Heather Bruett and Dr. Robert Wozniak from the psychology department will introduce a new mentee/mentor project. The abstract follows:

In past years, the recitation model implemented in Introduction to Psychology courses allowed for small class sizes and diverse grading opportunities; but this model was not offered to all students and did not provide an explicit focus on skill-building. To replace recitation, we propose Intro 360, a program designed for all Intro students that aims to preserve the benefits of recitation and address its limitations by engaging students more directly with psychological research through small group discussions, online tutorials, and opportunities to learn about research taking place in the department through guided experiences.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


June 15, 2020: OrgoVR

  • Topic: OrgoVR: Teaching Organic Chemistry with Virtual Reality
  • When: Monday, June 15
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place on Monday, June 15 from 12 – 1 pm. The discussion will be virtual, so please sign up using the link below to receive the Zoom link. During this dB-SERC lunch discussion, Dr. Peng Liu from the chemistry department will introduce a new course transformation. The abstract follows:

I will describe our initial efforts and plans to bring virtual reality (VR) technology to undergraduate organic chemistry students at the University of Pittsburgh. We are developing and implementing VR-based active learning course modules for Organic Chemistry I and II (CHEM 0310 and 0320). These modules will address a long-standing challenge in organic chemistry education: finding a more effective way to help students visualize 3D structures and understand how these structures affect chemical properties and reactivities.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


June 8, 2020: Developing Primary Literature Comprehension Skills

  • Topic: Developing Primary Literature Comprehension Skills in Honors General Chemistry Students
  • When: Monday, June 8
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)

During this virtual dB-SERC lunch discussion, chemistry graduate student Sunayana Mitra and Dr. Eugene Wagner will share the results of their Mentee-Mentor project. The project focused on helping students in honors general chemistry learn how to read research literature. The purpose of this lunch discussion is to reflect on the project and learn about this novel approach to helping students read scientific literature.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


May 26, 2020: Active Learning and Flipping Research Methods for Psychology

  • Topic: Active Learning and Flipping Research Methods for Psychology
  • When: Tuesday, May 26 [NOTE: DIFFERENT DAY]
  • Where: Virtual (sign up for the Zoom link)
  • Who: Dr. Ben Rottman

Research Methods in Psychology is facing multiple challenges. First, class sizes are doubling from 60 to 120, making active learning more challenging. Second, COVID-19 means that learning may need to take place much more online. Prior to the pandemic, I was already planning to 'flip' the classroom to present lectures online, but now, if learning may need to take place mostly/entirely online, what does flipping even mean? Please help me brainstorm ways to promote active learning and group discussions in a *potentially* online setting. This dB-SERC lunch event will be largely focused on discussion and brainstorming, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Mar 23, 2020: Going Online!

  • Topic: Going Online: A Q&A and Share-A-Thon for the dB-SERC Community
  • When: Monday, March 23 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: Online Only

Our final dB-SERC lunch discussion of the semester will take place Monday, March 23 from 12 - 1 pm via Zoom videoconference. Please sign up below in order to receive a reminder of the meeting and the link to the videoconference on Sunday evening. During this lunch discussion, Dr. Chandralekha Singh (Founding Director of dB-SERC) and Dr. Michael Bridges (Director of the Teaching Commons at UCTL) will lead a question and answer session about moving courses online. In addition, we will also make time for a share-a-thon, in which participants are invited to share the strategies and tools they've adopted to make the transition.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Mar 16, 2020: Using 3D Printed Models

  • Topic: Using 3D printed models to promote student understanding of macromolecular structure/function and spatial interactions
  • When: Monday, March 16 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, March 16 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Zuzana Swigonova from the biological science department will share details about a course transformation. The abstract follows:

Teaching fundamental principles governing structure-function relationships in biological systems has been a persistent challenge. Recent advancements in 3D printing offer a unique opportunity to make scientifically accurate and pedagogically relevant models of molecular structures that students can hold and manipulate. As part of the dB-SERC funded project, we have developed a pipeline for production of molecular models using crystallographic data. Our pilot study is based on adoption of physical models and associated active-learning teaching modules by instructors in 5 different courses, including introductory large-enrolment (BIOSC 0150 & 0160) and upper undergraduate (BIOSC 1000) courses. In our presentation, we will talk about the challenges of model design and methods of 3D printing. We will also reflect on the feedback provided by students and instructors from implementation of physical models in classroom settings. 

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Mar 9, 2020: Enhancing Student Engagement in the Classroom

  • Topic: Enhancing student engagement in the classroom
  • When: Monday, March 9 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

This week, Dr. Rama Balasubramanian will give lead a special lunch discussion on Monday, March 9 from 12 - 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. Success of students in a classroom is directly related to how engaged are they in their learning. Engaged learning enhances critical thinking and self-authorship. In this talk, I will be presenting examples of some tools and techniques that I use to promote active student engagement in a classroom. Some of these methods can be adapted and applied to a variety of teaching formats ranging from large lecture classes to undergraduate labs to online courses.

Dr. Rama ‘Bala’ Balasubramanian is a Professor of Physics at Roanoke College, Salem, VA. She has nearly 20 years of experience teaching physics at various institutions viz., Roanoke College, Stanford University, Harvard University, Georgetown University, and James Madison University. She has taught physics courses in a variety of formats including traditional lecture classes, both small and large lectures, to laboratory courses to online classes. She uses a variety of pedagogical methods and active learning tools to promote student engagement in her classes. Her area of research is experimental nanotechnology including the study of magnetic properties of nanocrystalline oxides, 2D materials and nanotubes, and spectroscopy of minerals on Mars. She is also active in promoting female and underrepresented minority students to pursue and thrive in physics other STEM fields. She is regularly invited to give presentations on Nanotechnology, STEM education at community events to popularize science to general public.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Mar 2, 2020: Patients in Literature's Pages

  • Topic: Patients in Literature's Pages
  • When: Monday, March 2 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

Dr. Nancy Pfenning, Senior Lecturer Emeritus, will be talking about the course Patients in Literature's Pages that she developed and taught this past fall in Pitt's Honors College, supported by a dB-SERC grant. She's currently teaching the course at Duquesne, but would welcome your input on how Pitt might help to sustain interdisciplinary courses like this one, that aren't necessarily housed in a particular department. Her talk will include broader insights that can be reached by considering the relative merits of learning about medical conditions via subjective literary works versus objective scientific articles.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Feb 24, 2020: Presentation Exchange

  • Topic: Presentation Exchange
  • When: Monday, February 24 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

During this lunch discussion, Dr. Kirill Kiselyov from the department of biological sciences will introduce a new course transformation that aims to deepen, improve, and assess the impact of the novel peer-reviewed presentation exchange system he has developed for BIOSC 1500, Cell Biology. The purpose of this discussion is to share ideas and feedback on the next steps of this project.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Feb 13, 2020: Developing Primary Literature Comprehension Skills

  • Topic: Developing Primary Literature Comprehension Skills in Honors General Chemistry Students
  • When: Thursday, February 13 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 307 Eberly Hall

During this lunch discussion, Sunayana Mitra from the chemistry department will discuss her project “Developing Primary Literature Comprehension Skills in Honors General Chemistry Students” for which she worked with Dr. Eugene Wagner. The abstract follows: 

Research and intellectual development requires expertise in reading and comprehending complex primary literature. All students, especially those moving on to graduate school, need primary literature evaluation skills. Since effective appraisal of primary research literature information requires practice over several years, an early start in familiarizing the students with research literature is important. This project aims to develop and implement activities, for the honors general chemistry courses, providing experiences for students in reading and interpreting primary literature. In the first semester, students receive one secondary article and four closely associated primary journal articles. Students complete assignments requiring them to rank order the primary articles in terms of relatedness to the secondary article. The assignments expect students to further investigate fundamental aspects of the primary articles, such as identifying hypotheses, goals, main conclusions from the experiments, and future directions. Students are given two weeks to complete each assignment and there are five iterations of the assignment through the semester. Two literature reading workshops during the semester educate students on effective literature reading methods and answer questions relating to the assignment objectives. In total, students read five secondary articles, and 20 research articles to varying levels of detail, similar to how researchers read and analyze articles. Five reading assignments in the subsequent semester, focus on evaluating and understanding one of the primary articles from the first semester. The familiarity with the articles make the students probe deeper into detailed information, such as research methods, tables and figures. The students analyze results, critique conclusions, and link conclusions to the author claims. Evaluation of this curriculum project is conducted through pre and post student opinion surveys to evaluate perceived gains in literature reading skills and comprehension. Assignment scores are also analyzed to determine skill improvement over the two semesters. Data gathered from assignment worksheets, student surveys, and workshops will be discussed, highlighting the implication and future directions of this project. Discussion will also include the overarching implications in the development of undergraduate preparation for future research endeavors.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Feb 3, 2020: Creating a Comprehensive Bank of Materials

  • Topic: Creating a Comprehensive Bank of Materials for Use in Statistics and Probability for Business Management
  • When: Monday, February 3 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

During this 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 reflect on new resources, deployment, and student reactions. The purpose of the lunch discussion is to reflect on the project and encourage an interchange of ideas.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Jan 27, 2020: Aligning Teaching Methods and Students' Learning Needs

  • Topic: Aligning Teaching Methods and Students' Learning Needs
  • When: Monday, January 27 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place on Monday, January 27 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Schikorra will discuss his efforts 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. The purpose of the lunch discussion is to share and discuss the results of the project.​ We hope to see you there!

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Jan 22, 2020: Adapting NMR Lessons for the Modern Organic Chemistry Laboratory

  • Topic: Adapting NMR Lessons for the Modern Organic Chemistry Laboratory
  • When: Wednesday, January 22 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Wednesday, January 22 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. Peter Bell and Jordan Swisher will share about their work adapting NMR lessons for the Chemistry 0345. The nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) Organic Chemistry Laboratory curriculum is actively being expanded to prepare students for real-world data analysis in modern organic chemistry research. This week, the efforts that were implemented last term, the lessons learned, and what the next steps are will be discussed.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Jan 13, 2020: Computational Methods in a Flipped Format

  • Topic: Computational Methods in a Flipped Format
  • When: Monday, January 13 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, January 13 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Dr. David Nero from the physics department will share about his course transformation, Computational Methods in a Flipped Format, which aims to use a flipped approach to help students learn in PHYS 1321, Computational Methods in Physics.

Click here to register for the lunch discussion


Jan 6, 2020: Preparing and Observing Lab Instruction

  • Topic: Preparing and Observing Lab Instruction
  • When: Monday, January 6 from 12 - 1 pm
  • Where: 321 Allen Hall

The next dB-SERC lunch discussion will take place Monday, January 6 from 12 – 1 pm in 321 Allen Hall. During the lunch, Danny Doucette and Dr. Russell Clark will share the results of their Course Transformation, which aimed to improve how graduate student teaching assistants were prepared to lead introductory labs in physics. In addition, they will demonstrate the Real-time Instructor Observing Tool, a powerful and useful tool that can be used for (peer) observation of teaching. 

Click here to register for the lunch discussion