A National Perspective of CREATE in Scientific Curricula

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Title of Abstract: A National Perspective of CREATE in Scientific Curricula

Name of Author: Kristy Kenyon
Author Company or Institution: Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Author Title: Associate Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development
Approaches: Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development
Keywords: primary literature, critical thinking, faculty development, visualization, reading comprehension

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Sally G. Hoskins, The City College of the City University of New York

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The C.R.E.A.T.E. project aims to transform undergraduate science education by shifting the center of the classroom universe from the textbook to the journal article. The C.R.E.A.T.E. strategy provides students a ‘toolkit’ of novel and adapted pedagogical approaches that can be used for analyzing any scientific reading. With this grant, we sought to extend the impact of the CREATE project by (1) training faculty from 2 and 4 year colleges in CREATE strategies, then (2) following a subset (CREATE Implementers) as they teach CREATE courses on their home campuses and (3) assessing the impact of CREATE courses on a nationally-distributed group of 2 and 4-year college students (NSF 1021443). The goals of this project align entirely with the recommendations put forth by the Vision and Change project. The workshops funded by this grant are particularly focused on faculty development and initiating change in science classrooms at diverse institutions. In our faculty workshops, we discuss the innovative ideas culled from science educational publications that inform the CREATE strategy (thus addressing the V&C 2010 recommendation for “providing all biology faculty with access to the teaching and learning research” and “encourage its application when developing courses”). We teach faculty how to use the tools of CREATE in their courses to focus on deeper understand of scientific processes and the nature of science. We explicitly address the ‘depth vs. breadth’ issue with the CREATE strategy; faculty trained with this methodology learn how to focus on scientific literacy and analytical skills (depth) with a more balanced level of content coverage (breadth).

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Faculty development workshops were used to train 96 participants selected from a pool of applicants from community colleges, universities and four-year colleges. Four week long (4.5 days) workshops were held at the residential campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges (two sessions in 2012 and two in 2013). During the initial phase of the workshop, faculty participants learned the specific tools of the C.R.E.A.T.E. method through experiential learning. Faculty were instructed to use tools such as concept mapping and cartooning to analyze scientific literature; additional activities addressed the nature of science (e.g., experimental design and grant panel exercises). These exercises ensured that trainees gained a deeper understanding of the student perspective and experience when taking a CREATE-based course. During the latter part of the session, faculty participants developed curricular resources (i.e. roadmaps) that demonstrate how trainees will incorporate scientific literature and the tools of CREATE within the context of their courses. Faculty also had an opportunity to teach a portion of their modules to an audience of their peers. These practice exercises were valuable on multiple levels, giving volunteers an opportunity to test out their ideas for teaching with CREATE and led to deeper discussions of pedagogy by the entire group. At the completion of each workshop, trainees submitted copies of roadmaps and other curricular resources involving CREATE to be used in the development of a curricular database for the CREATE project. Web-based dissemination is currently underway through a dedicated website (teachcreate.org).

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: There are two levels of assessment for this grant. First, workshops that train faculty in the CREATE strategy were evaluated by an outside evaluator (OE) and participants were assessed by two pre/post workshop surveys (SALG, Likert) as well as a third instrument given by the OE. The second level of evaluation occurs at the time of implementation. Trained faculty designated as ‘implementers’ (selected through an application process) have three OE observations throughout the semester of their specific course. In addition, the students of the selected course are assessed by the PIs using a suite of cognitive and affective tools, and by the OE using a post-course survey of students’ attitudes about CREATE and their course.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Both sets of workshops (2012, 2013) were highly rated, with the vast majority of faculty participants saying they would recommend the training to colleagues. With regard to impact of CREATE strategies on additional student cohorts, we are midway through the first set of implementations of CREATE by workshop participants trained in June 2012. We are determining student outcomes using a critical thinking and concept integration test derived from our earlier work (Hoskins et al., 2007); an experimental design test unrelated to the content area of CREATE courses (Sirum and Humburg 2011), a pre/post SALG survey, and the Survey of Attitudes, Abilities and Beliefs (SAAB) we developed in an earlier study at CCNY (Hoskins et al., 2011). Initial data analysis on two four-year campuses (SAAB survey) indicates that students made large gains in their confidence at data analysis, “thinking like a scientist”, analyzing data, reading primary literature and visualizing experiments, as well as, in one course, in their sense of what scientists are like. Ongoing data analysis will indicate outcomes on other affective and cognitive measures on these campuses, and on all measures for students in community college implementations. At the faculty level, trainees from the workshops have begun to disseminate the strategy at their home institutions and beyond. Some community college faculty have presented local workshops to introduce other faculty to CREATE strategies. One four-year participant developed a separate small project on content integration analyzed through concept mapping, and will submit an abstract to an upcoming national science education meeting. We are encouraged by the positive comments from faculty implementers such as “This is the most fun I’ve ever had teaching Intro.”, another stating “I can tell the students are learning so much more.” These comments suggest that CREATE teaching strategies will persist.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: We have found the process of conducting a research study on a community college campus to bring challenges different from those we had experienced previously at 4 year campuses. Some community colleges appear to lack standing IRB boards, making the approval process challenging. In one case, a community college faculty member found her administration ambivalent about allowing the IRB-approved project to proceed on her campus. For the 2013 implementers, we will request a letter of support, from Faculty Dean/Provost (or equivalent). We are also working to develop stronger networks among the faculty trained at different institutions. We believe that fostering faculty connections will help those facing institutional barriers.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: We have developed a website (teachcreate.org) that will be used to inform interested faculty about the CREATE strategy and to facilitate the sharing of curricular resources involving its use. Publications relating to the results of this study will be forthcoming once all implementations have been completed. We continue to pursue other forms of communication (invited seminars, meetings) with the intent of expanding the project nationally.

Acknowledgements: This project is funded by the National Science Foundation (1021443).