Notes from SENCER Summer Institute 2012

Plenary Address:  “Real STEM Education – It’s Not Just What You Know But What You Can Do With What You Know” by Barbara Tewksbury

Goal:  Think about a course you are working on – make some progress towards that course in this session.

My Course: GC1Y1000 – Critical Thinking: Chemistry & Climate

We know how to build a course around content but content isn’t enough.  Why?  Because it doesn’t provide students with the opportunity to practice using the knowledge and the skills of the discipline.  However, content knowledge is easy to measure.  If we want students to engage with the discipline we need to rethink the assessments we use to measure their learning progression.

Challenges

Students need personal practice.  But that isn’t enough.  Students need to consciously engage (and reflect) on what they are doing, which leads to a personal validation of their own growth.  “If you don’t ask them to do that, chances are they won’t do that on their own.

Addressing the challenges

Q:  How might students use what they learn in your course in ways that would make a difference in their lives in the future?

A:  The answer is a goal that you can use as the base for your course.

Example: West Point

Cadets will be able to make better personal and policy decisions as Army officers with respect to energy and climate change issues.

Brainstorm

Q:  What aspects of your course will be more useful to students in the future?  How might students use what they have learned in future decision-making?

A:  Students will be able to

  • assess validity of scientific information relevant to climate issues.
  • describe the scientific evidence and principles at play in tropospheric climate pollution, stratospheric ozone depletion and global climate change.
  • use evidence to draw conclusions.
  • use chemical knowledge and principles to solve problems with integrated concepts and evaluate the “reasonableness” of solutions.
  • independently direct their own learning.

Student Practice

Q:  What do students need practice in?

A: Reflect on learning to build independence.  Articulating plans for using the skills, content, in the future.

Brainstorm – 2

Q:  What kinds of practice could you thread throughout the course? How would this kind of practice change students’ ways of thinking?  What could you integrate that will help students relfect on their preparation for the future? How will you know that their thinking has changed?

A: Activities ….

  • assess validity of scientific information relevant to climate issues.
    • scientific literature jigsaw
  • describe the scientific evidence and principles at play in tropospheric climate pollution, stratospheric ozone depletion and global climate change.
    • reporting out – “
  • use chemical knowledge and principles to solve problems with integrated concepts and evaluate the “reasonableness” of solutions.

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