650 Views
  1. Kim Pearson
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. The College of New Jersey TCNJ
  1. Diane Bates
  2. https://sociology.tcnj.edu/faculty-profiles/dr-diane-bates/
  3. Professor
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. The College of New Jersey TCNJ
  1. S. Monisha Pulimood
  2. https://pulimood.pages.tcnj.edu/
  3. Professor and Chair
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. The College of New Jersey TCNJ

Collaborating Across Boundaries to Engage Undergraduates in STEM Learning

NSF Awards: 1914869

2020 (see original presentation & discussion)

Undergraduate

Video Title: CAB: Breaking Boundaries and Building Community to Boost STEM Learning

Collaborating Across Boundaries to Engage Undergraduates in STEM Learning is an NSF-funded research project (Award #1914869) that expands, improves, and studies an innovative curricular model in which two undergraduate courses from different disciplines are taught in coordination. The instructors, goals, and outcomes of each course remain distinct, but the courses will be connected by a science-focused project that is developed through an active collaboration with a community partner. By the end of the project, 750 students at The College of New Jersey will have experienced this model, allowing for a comprehensive evaluation of its effectiveness. Furthermore, over a dozen faculty members in different disciplines will be trained in using effective strategies for teaching STEM concepts. We are currently in the first year of the three-year project. 

In this video, viewers will be introduced to the CAB model and meet some of the faculty, students and community partners who are participating in the study. They'll learn why we think this project will contribute to educational strategies that can produce the STEM-literate workforce needed to tackle the pressing interdisciplinary problems of our time. 

This video has had approximately 159 visits by 126 visitors from 97 unique locations. It has been played 116 times.
Click to See Activity Worldwide
Map reflects activity with this presentation from the 2020 STEM For All Video Showcase website, as well as the STEM For All Multiplex website.
Based on periodically updated Google Analytics data. This is intended to show usage trends but may not capture all activity from every visitor.
show more
Original Discussion from the 2020 STEM For All Video Showcase
  • Icon for: Kim Pearson

    Kim Pearson

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 5, 2020 | 01:39 p.m.

    Thanks for checking out our work. This project is in its first year, so we don't have results to report yet. However, our research design builds upon prior research that you can learn about here: Collaborating Across Boundaries to Engage Undergraduates in Computational Thinking. (CABECT)

  • Icon for: Stephen Alkins

    Stephen Alkins

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 06:17 p.m.

    This is a great model for interdisciplinary learning and discourse:

    • What disciplines have you predicted have the best overlap for the collaborative projects (i.e. what are you trying first?)
    • Would you please say more about how the science project is designed?  Do students interact with the surrounding community or engage stakeholders to identify interesting or complex questions/problems?
    • How do you propose to assess the students' improved STEM literacy and competency?

         I definitely look forward to your responses!

  • Icon for: Kim Pearson

    Kim Pearson

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 5, 2020 | 08:31 p.m.

    Hello Stephen, Thank you for the great questions!

    We actually haven't predicted which disciplines lend themselves best to the collaborative projects. Rather, we want to see whether distinct patterns emerge. The pilot study on which the current project is based involved collaborations between classes in Journalism/Interactive Multimedia and Computer Science. There, we were looking for growth in computational thinking. (We developed assessment tools for measuring this based on relevant accreditation criteria in the participating disciplines.) Here's one of the papers that describes the results of that research in more detail.

    Now we want to see what happens when faculty across our institution deploy the CAB model more broadly. 

    I should say a bit more about how the collaborations are structured. First, by the end of the study period, we will have data that allows us to compare different types of collaborations: STEM and non-STEM or Social, Behavioral and Economic sciences (SBE) and non-STEM or SBE, STEM and SBE, and STEM and STEM. Specifically, in this first year, the three PIs are a journalist, computer scientist, and sociologist, respectively. The journalist PI partnered with a computer science professor, the computer scientist PI partnered with a business professor, and the sociologist partnered with a professor in Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies. Next year, the six of us will have different partners - I'll be working with an anthropologist, for example, my computer science collaborator from this semester will have a partner who is a social scientist, and so on.So you will have 12 faculty involved in that second year.  In the third year, we'll switch off again with new collaborators. There's a slide in the video that maps this in more detail. 

    Second, the CAB model calls for the collaborating faculty to form the collaboration between two existing classes and a community partner. This model builds upon the Cooperative Expertise model for interdisciplinary computing developed by Lillian Cassel, et. al.

    We may know of a community partner through our own connections, or we can consult with our campus office of Community Engaged Learning and Research to help us find partners with a problem that might be amenable to a science solution that undergraduates can develop in one semester. For example, my class and my collaborator John DeGood's class partnered with  a nonprofit news organization called CivicStory to help them think about ways of more effectively engaging their stakeholders through a redesigned web presence and new audience engagement strategies. That project came about because the Executive Director came to us asking for help and we brainstormed possible project ideas that could be executed by a Database Systems class partnered with a Journalism/African-American studies class, Race, Gender and the News.

    In another case, co-PI Diane Bates knew about the work that her partner Marla Jaksch had been doing to build solar suitcases and make them available to communities in need. Their students ended collaborated to create a curriculum and workshop to teach Girl Scouts how to build the suitcases, and to help them understand the problems that the suitcases help to address. So the science problems can vary according to the classes being taught and the needs of the community partner.

    What is common to the collaborations is the structure: First, it's important to understand that these are separate classes with separate deliverables. However, we have several joint class meetings through the semester, students work on teams that are structured across classes.They also have the opportunity to interact with the community partners during these joint meetings, and they may have field trips to the partners' location as well. So, yes, they actively engage with the partner to try to better understand the issues and constraints facing the partner, and to present ideas for ways of addressing the partner's needs. 

    To help new faculty understand the model, we have workshops and periodic check-ins. 

    As for your question about assessment, please allow me to quote from the abstract of our award: "STEM student learning outcomes will be assessed using multiple measures, including student self-assessment, faculty assessment, and pre-to-post performance on a standardized instrument."

    I hope that answers your questions. Thanks again for asking!

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Stephen Alkins
  • Icon for: Wendy Smith

    Wendy Smith

    Facilitator
    May 6, 2020 | 08:36 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing your video. I'm always interested in PI teams and the expertise they bring to partnership projects, and noticed you have a sociologist as part of your team (I think more STEM projects should include sociologists!). Can you share a little about the backgrounds of your PI/research team?

  • Icon for: Kim Pearson

    Kim Pearson

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 7, 2020 | 11:05 a.m.

    Thanks for your question, Wendy. Each of the PIs comes to this project with longstanding professional and intellectual interests in interdisciplinary collaboration, community engagement, and STEM literacy across the curriculum. I should, however, let my colleagues speak for themselves.

    PI Monisha Pulimood, a professor and chair of our department of Computer Science, also serves as the current Barbara Myers Pelson Chair of Faculty-Student Engagement. In that capacity, she sponsors workshops and facilitates teaching collaborations across campus. She says on her TCNJ web page that, "

    I believe that creative problem solving requires an authentic inquiry-based pedagogy, a collaborative community, and a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds. In this vein, I am / have been PI or co-PI on multiple grants related to computer science and STEM education, including those funded through a variety of National Science Foundation (NSF) programs, that provide infrastructure to enable student success in STEM fields."

    Co-PI Diane Bates is an environmental sociologist and the author of Superstorm Sandy: The Inevitable Destruction and Reconstruction of the Jersey Shore (Rutgers University Press, 2000). Her pedagogy, scholarship and service reveal both her disciplinary breadth and depth and her commitment to community-engaged learning and trans-disciplinary collaboration. She has played a central role in the development of environmental studies at TCNJ, has been a key supporter of the work of our campus Center for Community Engaged Learning and Research, and has many connections to our nonprofit community. She served as the evaluator on our pilot project, and we are grateful that she wanted to join this expanded project as a co-PI. About her commitment to community-engaged learning, she says, "“I offer community-engaged learning opportunities in many of my classes so that students can experience real-world applications of the concepts that we study in class.  Community-engaged learning also allows students to gain first-hand knowledge in the professions that sociology students pursue, including education, research, and social services.”

    As for myself, I was a science writer before entering academia, working for both the Fox Chase Cancer Center and AT&T Bell Laboratories. My industry experience taught me that students needed to understand the structure of the industries they wanted to enter, how to work in self-managed teams, and how to become lifelong learners to master the requirements of workplaces that have been transformed by technological evolution. My effort has been to create learning situations that give students opportunities to acquire and practice the knowledge and skills that they will need to succeed in the workplace now and in the future. This drove me to seek collaborations with colleagues outside of my own department to launch real and virtual media enterprises. My collaborative work with computer scientists began in 2006 when Monisha Pulimood and I collaborated with our students on the creation of a content management system for the online newsmagazine my students had been running since 1996. I am grateful that TCNJ has provided an environment that affords us to explore these important issues in a systematic way. My website has more information about my approach to teaching, as well as my research

     

  • Icon for: Feng Liu

    Feng Liu

    Facilitator
    May 7, 2020 | 09:12 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing this interesting project and the interdisciplinary model! Since the advancement of knowledge in many fields needs knowledge across multiple subject areas, I do think collaboration would generate better knowledge gain. Your interdisciplinary model is built upon the collaboration between two partners (e.g., two courses in different content areas). I wonder whether the model can be expanded to the collaboration in a bigger group with 3 or more partners (e.g., community of learning/practice). I would also like to know the design approach to evaluate the impact of this model on student learning outcomes. Is it a within-group design with “intervention” group (i.e., students who participated in the program) only or there will be a control group? If there is a control group, how is it going to be identified?

  • Icon for: Kim Pearson

    Kim Pearson

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 8, 2020 | 03:07 p.m.

    Thank you for your question! Our model does indeed focus on collaboration between paired undergraduate classes and a community partner. One reason for not adding additional classes to each collaboration is simply logistical. We encourage the instructors to try to schedule the paired classes at the same time in order to make it easier too build the joint class sessions and interactions with the community partner into our syllabi, for example. However, I can tell you that in an earlier project for which I served as co-PI, I did participate in a three-class collaboration. In that project, we were testing various models of interdisciplinary computing collaboration in the classroom. I taught an interactive storytelling class that was teamed with a game production class at TCNJ and a software engineering class at Villanova. The game production class gave us a story bible that had been created by a game design class the previous semester. My class' job was to analyze the story for plot and character holes before the story was translated into code. Their professor also gave us two interactive story engines - one in Scratch, and one in Processing, that my students used to code their midterm projects. (One of the students created his own version of the engine in Flash - this was about a decade ago.) Then my students sent their projects to the software engineering class for code review. It was a very interesting experiment, but it didn't involve much direct interaction between the students, and creating a sense of creative community was a challenge, especially across institutions. We did attempt that, using a wiki and video chats.

    In the current project, we approach the creation of a community of practice through faculty workshops, a faculty-student listserve, and other virtual means. Our forthcoming project website will feature a gallery of student work, (as the students permit), and allow space for participation by participating faculty and community partners. 

  • Icon for: Feng Liu

    Feng Liu

    Facilitator
    May 9, 2020 | 12:10 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Kim. I agree the more partners involved with the collaboration, the more time consuming. Could you share more information on the design approach to evaluate the impact of the interdisciplinary model on student learning outcomes?

  • May 11, 2020 | 05:33 p.m.

    Cool work that pairs undergrads with STEM professionals in the community to work on real world problems.  Yay! Good to catalog best practices with cross cultural survey.  What kind of data do you anticipate for answering your questions about learning outcomes, choice of classes, DS vs. IDS and PB vs. SB?  Thanks for making these connections and for sharing. 

  • Icon for: Kim Pearson

    Kim Pearson

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 12, 2020 | 10:24 a.m.

    Feng and Michael, I hope this answers the important questions both of you raised.

    Because we are trying to measure student learning, but also faculty practices and the impact of community engagement, our approach uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative assessment measures in an effort to create a more rounded portrait of the impact of our interventions. The primary quantitative instrument is a test of scientific literacy that is administered to students as a pre and post test, as well as student self-assessments. Qualitative measures include faculty journals, feedback from workshops, and stakeholder focus group sessions led by our external evaluator.   

    In order to better understand the longitudinal impact of participation in CAB, we will implement annual follow-up surveys that ask former student participants to assess how they have applied the STEM learning obtained in their CAB class. We will ask each participating student to complete a brief survey in which they indicate self-assessment of lasting impacts of STEM learning, beginning in summer 2020 and continuing each summer of the study period. These self-assessments will be compared with direct observations of number of STEM classes and GPA to better understand the direct and perceived benefits of the CAB curriculum. This assessment will include both STEM and non-STEM majors. We will utilize the summer undergraduate researchers funded by this grant to help design and distribute the survey as well as collect and analyze the results each year. 

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.

Multiplex Discussion
  • Post to the Discussion

    If you have an account, please login before contributing. New visitors may post with email verification.


    For visitors, we require email verification before we will post your comment. When you receive the email click on the verification link and your message will be made visible.



    Name:

    Email:

    Role:
    NOTE: Your email will be kept private and will not be shared with any 3rd parties