803 Views
  1. Michelle Friend
  2. https://www.unomaha.edu/college-of-education-health-and-human-sciences/teacher-education/about-us/directory/michelle-friend.php
  3. Assistant Professor
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. University of Nebraska Omaha
  1. Ali Al-Ghaithi
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ali-alghaithi/
  3. Graduate Assistant
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. University of Nebraska Omaha
  1. Becky Brusky
  2. Instructor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of Nebraska Omaha
  1. Julie Dierberger
  2. Paul Sather Distinguished Director
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of Nebraska Omaha
  1. Betty Love
  2. Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of Nebraska Omaha
  1. Mahbubul Majumder
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of Nebraska Omaha

Undergraduate Service Learning Experiences with Data: Mathematics in the Comm...

NSF Awards: 2021512

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Undergraduate

As an alternative to college algebra, students at UNO can fulfill their quantitative reasoning requirement with Data Literacy and Visualization. In this service learning course, students work with a non-profit community partner to analyze data, culminating in a final report that answers the partner's questions and helps support a better Omaha. This class supports non-STEM students in learning valuable data literacy and visualization skills, "soft" skills like collaboration and critical thinking, and becoming more engaged with the community. 

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (21 posts)
  • Icon for: Mesut Duran

    Mesut Duran

    Facilitator
    Professor of Technology
    May 11, 2021 | 05:56 a.m.

    --Loved how data literacy and visualization topics are integrated into the service-learning course. Some more info about student demographics would be helpful. Thanks, Mesut

     
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    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Icon for: Michelle Friend

    Michelle Friend

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 04:37 p.m.

    What kind of student demographics are you interested in? The class has a fairly even mix of male and female identifying students, very few are first-year students, and they are from a range of majors that are mostly non-STEM majors. 

  • Icon for: Mesut Duran

    Mesut Duran

    Facilitator
    Professor of Technology
    May 13, 2021 | 07:08 a.m.

    I was wondering if minority students were part of the mix.  Thanks, Mesut

     
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    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Icon for: Becky Brusky

    Becky Brusky

    Co-Presenter
    Instructor
    May 13, 2021 | 12:17 p.m.

    Hello Mesut,   Thank you for the interest in the Service-Learning and diversity in our new class.  This General Education class is offered to all students and UNO.   The students that have selected this class do have a diverse backgrounds and this adds to the authenticity of classroom discussions.   At first the students are just working on a project, but as they start to realize that they are playing a vital role in their own community, it becomes more than just a project.  

     
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    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Facilitator
    Professor of Physics and Astronomy
    May 11, 2021 | 10:30 a.m.

    This course is an innovative way to engage students in math through service learning. How much work is involved in identifying projects and how scalable is this approach?

     
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    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Icon for: Julie Dierberger

    Julie Dierberger

    Co-Presenter
    Paul Sather Distinguished Director
    May 11, 2021 | 10:44 a.m.

    Hi Alexander, thank you for your question! At UNO, the Service Learning Academy is an academic unit that supports the facilitation of community partnerships for this course. We are in space with community organizations listening to their needs all the time. As such, we are ready with potential partners when faculty members come to us looking for collaborators for their service learning courses. Additionally, we are housed in the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, which is a building on campus that facilitates the development of engaged teaching, research, and scholarship. There are campus units as well as approximately 30 nonprofit organizations that work in this space. We meet often with those organizations and see them in informal spaces (the parking garage, walking to a meeting, going to the restroom) and are able to build relationships and think of collaboration in different ways. 

    Regarding scalability, what is exciting about partnerships are that when they are done well, they sustain. Once a collaboration has occurred, the partners don't need to re-learn how to initiate it. They can instead grow their project and deepen the learning and impact. We do expect the enrollment to grow and adding other sections. Likely some of the partners will be repeat and we will bring in new partners. The Service Learning Academy also provides support from graduate assistants to help coordinate project details so the faculty member can focus on teaching, which is helpful as we scale up.

    Do you have any suggestions for our group on how to scale up thoughtfully?

     
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    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Icon for: Alexander Rudolph

    Alexander Rudolph

    Facilitator
    Professor of Physics and Astronomy
    May 11, 2021 | 10:48 a.m.

    The existence of your academy and community engagement center bode well for sustainability. The challenge, I imagine, for scalability will be in getting the university (or the state?) to recognize your success and see a scaled version of this course as an asset to the students at the university. Since every student needs a quantitative course to graduate, making sure that this course satisfies that requirement is key. Finally, you need to convince enough of the math faculty that teaching such a course is valuable so you have the instructors as the course size grows. Good luck!

     
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    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Small default profile

    Julie Dierberger

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 13, 2021 | 12:50 p.m.

    Hi Alexander, you are correct, we are a part of a state university system and the only metropolitan institution. This positions us uniquely to meet our mission by engaging in the community. This is an important way our institution functions, and using service learning as a method of teaching is one way to accomplish this. Luckily, faculty members that come to UNO understand our mission and are more likely to use service learning and other engaged teaching and learning strategies. 

  • Icon for: Neela White

    Neela White

    Facilitator
    Project Director
    May 11, 2021 | 10:42 a.m.

    Hi UNO Team!  Thank you for your video submission.  Attaching the course to service learning is a wonderful way for the students to apply what they are learning in the course to an impactful change in their community.  Who chooses the non-profit community partner?  Students?  Faculty?  Thanks and good luck, Neela

     
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    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Icon for: Ali Al-Ghaithi

    Ali Al-Ghaithi

    Co-Presenter
    Graduate Assistant
    May 11, 2021 | 10:50 a.m.

    Hi Neela! Thank you for your comment. Faculty members and the Service-Learning Academy work together to find the right non-profit community partner and this first starts with meeting with few nonprofit organizations to find the right fit. 

     
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    Neela White
  • Icon for: Julie Dierberger

    Julie Dierberger

    Co-Presenter
    Paul Sather Distinguished Director
    May 13, 2021 | 10:31 a.m.

    Hi Neela, thanks for your question! I agree with Ali--the Service Learning Academy, which is an academic unit within the institution that supports the development and implementation of service learning courses, helps to identify the partners. We do that in a variety of ways. First, we are always in community listening to our partners about upcoming events, activities, and priorities in their organizations. We go into community and attend forums and meetings, always listening and networking with folks. Then, when faculty members share what they want their students to learn, the staff at the Service Learning Academy have a good sense of what is priority in the community and then starts to "match" those folks. It often starts with a coffee or tea and then builds into a collaborative relationship. There are times in which there are options for students to identify organization(s) that address a specific issue/need in the community as a part of the course. However, we find that faculty members prefer to have their partnerships established before the course begins.

     
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    Neela White
    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Icon for: Meg Ray

    Meg Ray

    K-12 Education Advisor
    May 11, 2021 | 12:49 p.m.

    Hi Michelle and team! I love this project. I have had so many high school students go on to get accepted to college and then drop out after failing or barely passing math (due to lack of preparation in high school, not ability). It really hits their self-esteem and fuels imposter syndrome. I wish that they had, had access to a course like this. Thank you for sharing. 

     
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    Michelle Friend
  • Icon for: Betty Love

    Betty Love

    Co-Presenter
    Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 04:38 p.m.

    Hi Meg - thanks for your comment!  One of the things we're exploring with this grant is how to scale the course at UNO.  But beyond that we would love to see this be a dual-enrollment course for high school students.  By taking this course for dual enrollment credit, students could satisfy their UNO gen-ed quantitative literacy requirement before setting foot on campus.

    We are already doing this with another course that we developed - Introduction to Mathematical and Computational Thinking that combines math, programming, and art.

    And to help more high school math teachers get the credentials they need to be able to teach such dual enrollment courses, we have developed an 18-credit-hour certificate program.

    Happy to provide more info if you have questions.  Can respond here or to direct email at blove@unomaha.edu.

    -Betty

     
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    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Icon for: Michelle Friend

    Michelle Friend

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 04:40 p.m.

    Thanks Meg! We're really proud of our efforts to provide alternatives to fulfill the quantitative reasoning requirement. The courses are equally rigorous, but because they are so different from college algebra, students' math anxiety is decreased and they can learn to think about math in very different ways than they are used to.

     
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    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Icon for: Chelsea Carnes

    Chelsea Carnes

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 11, 2021 | 01:27 p.m.

    Sounds like a great project! I love that you are encouraging students to think about the wider community outside of their college campus, and ways that they can serve that wider community through nonprofit partnership. In this age of misinformation, the need for young adults to understand how to interpret and disseminate data is so important. (More important than a typical college algebra class, in my opinion!) How do you engage with the nonprofit partners to be sure your students' research is meeting their needs and not wasting their time? I live in a college town and have worked for various nonprofits locally, sometimes student volunteers are more of a time-suck than they are helpful and service learning can sometimes increase the town/gown irritation rather than grow a partnership.

     
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    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Icon for: Julie Dierberger

    Julie Dierberger

    Co-Presenter
    Paul Sather Distinguished Director
    May 13, 2021 | 10:18 a.m.

    Hi Chelsea, great question, and thank you for viewing our video! At UNO, we take our partnership development really seriously. The Service Learning Academy is an academic unit that supports faculty to develop and implement these types of experiences. We do that by being in space with community partners to ensure we are listening to their needs/opportunities. Then we bring folks together that have mutual goals. We take these relationships very seriously and encourage folks to say "no" if needed, or "yes, but" and clarify expectations.

    Our training sessions that include both faculty members and community partners also include conversations about power, implicit bias, and relationship building. It takes intention and requires some social capital from our team as well. I would also say the faculty member has done an excellent job managing the relationship. As a result, we will have some longer term opportunities to partner and I am excited about how that will allow us to go deeper in our work. I hope we can share that experience in the years to come!

     
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    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • May 11, 2021 | 07:59 p.m.

    I love seeing how you are combining data science/statistics eduction with service/experiential learning, and doing it at a more introductory level too. I think this is a really great way to get students engaged in statistics and data science while also contributing to their communities. In addition to my work as a STEM educator/researcher, I recently began a part-time master's program in data analytics, and I chose the program I am in in part for the experiential learning opportunities they have, because I think that will make what I am learning more salient/relevant to real-world contexts. But I have to finish the core courses before I get to do experiential learning projects. I'm a bit jealous of the opportunities your students have!

     
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    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Icon for: Michelle Friend

    Michelle Friend

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 04:53 p.m.

    Thanks so much! Experiential learning is such a powerful motivator and really makes theoretical ideas concrete! Hopefully knowing it is coming will help you focus on what you're learning now, in preparation to do amazing work on "real" projects!

     
    1
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    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Icon for: Michael Ferrara

    Michael Ferrara

    Funder
    May 12, 2021 | 02:44 p.m.

    Great video!  I really enjoyed hearing from the team and from your community partners about the impact of your work.  What a wonderful learning opportunity for your students!

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Ali Al-Ghaithi
  • Icon for: Michelle Friend

    Michelle Friend

    Lead Presenter
    Assistant Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 04:42 p.m.

    Thanks so much! So far it has gone even better than we had hoped, with both students and community partners really happy with the outcomes and the experience. We are so thankful to have the opportunity to try this innovative approach. 

  • Icon for: Ateng' Ogwel

    Ateng' Ogwel

    Researcher
    May 15, 2021 | 07:01 a.m.

    Michelle,

    Thanks for the presentation that connects institutional learning to the community. I find the approach quite relevant to the Kenyan context, where the reformed curriculum has provisions for Community Service Learning (CSL). Actual implementation of CSL has not really taken form, largely because of phased implementation of the Competency-based Curriculum (CBC) and due to inadequate experiences amongst the practitioners. 

    Data and statistical literacy is usually low, at least in the context am familiar with, and your project provides a motivating context for enhancing statistical literacy among school population and the general citizenry.

    There is some close resemblance to what my friend has done in the Western part of Kenya under the African Maths Initiative (https://www.africanmathsinitiative.net/), working with farmers to optimize produce based on data and evidence. I'll let Zach Mbasu who is part of Eric Hamilton's presentation in the current showcase to link up with your team and draw lessons for our Kenyan context.

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