Community Supports STEM Reform Aligned with Faculty Research

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Title of Abstract: Community Supports STEM Reform Aligned with Faculty Research

Name of Author: Ann C. Smith
Author Company or Institution: University of Maryland
Author Title: Assistant Dean
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development, Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Mixed Approach
Keywords: Learning Community Concept Inventory Microbiology Case based teaching Research oriented learning

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): G. Marbach-Ad, University of Maryland S. Balcom, University of Maryland J. Buchner, University of Maryland V. Briken, University of Maryland J. DeStefano, University of Maryland N.M. El-Sayed, University of Maryland K. Frauwirth, University of Maryland B. Fredericksen, University of Maryland V. Lee, University of Maryland K.S. McIver, University of Maryland D. Mosser, University of Maryland B.B. Quimby, University of Maryland P. Shields, University of Maryland W. Song, University of Maryland R. Stewart, University of Maryland K.V. Thompson, University of Maryland D.C. Stein, University of Maryland S. Yarwood, University of Maryland

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The AAAS report Vision and Change: A Call to Action, urges a cultural change regarding student learning and provides a consensus list of the major concepts that students in the biological sciences should understand deeply. This reform requires the implementation of evidence-based teaching approaches that result in deeper, more durable understanding than traditional modes of instruction. Faculty members clearly play a pivotal role in undergraduate STEM education; however, they have essentially no formal preparation for implementing curricular and pedagogical reform. Faculty Learning Communities have emerged as a powerful mechanism for teaching reform. Communities enable faculty to develop shared vision and expertise, and they provide motivation and support for those seeking to adopt new teaching practices. As part of a College-wide effort to reinvigorate the undergraduate biology curriculum, University of Maryland (UMD) faculty with research expertise in the area of Host Pathogen Interaction (HPI) formed a faculty learning community. The HPI Teaching Community consists of 18 members who represent all faculty ranks, including those with primarily teaching responsibilities (Lecturers and Instructors) as well as tenured/tenure-track faculty. Collectively, these faculty members share responsibility for teaching nine undergraduate courses in the microbiology curriculum (see A science educator is also an integral part of the group, providing expertise in science pedagogy and assessment. The overarching goal of the HPI-TC is to create a research-intensive undergraduate curriculum informed by best practices in teaching and learning.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Through the development of a learning progression, beginning with the introductory course and extending through the advanced courses, the HPI-TC sought to eliminate excessive overlap in content, and support a learning model in which concepts and ideas introduced in one course would become the foundation for further development in successive courses. To this end, the HPI-TC did the following: * Chose two 'anchor' organisms to be used as exemplars of fundamental concepts in all HPI courses. * Generated a list of thirteen concepts that are fundamental to an understanding of HPI and have used these to develop course learning outcomes * Employed a curriculum design matrix to map the coverage of HPI concepts in each of the HPI courses. * Revised courses to focus on the target organisms, address learning outcomes, and infuse multiple active learning strategies. * Considered our research topics and approaches to design research oriented active learning activities for our courses * Documented the alignment of the HPI Concepts with the Vision and Change Core Concepts (AAAS 2009) and ASM Microbiology Curriculum Overarching Concepts (Merkel 2012). * Designed and validated a concept inventory (the HPI CI) to assess student understanding of HPI concepts.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: We have used the Host Pathogen Interactions concept inventory that was developed by our team to assess student learning in all of our courses. Students complete the assessment at the start and at the end of each semester. The assessment is an 18 question multiple choice inventory that has a second tier request for an explanation for the selected response. Each semester the faculty of the HPI-TC reviews student scores and reads open ended responses. HPI CI pre- and post-tests have informed instructional practices across the nine HPI courses.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Results from the HPI CI pre and post-tests have informed instructional practices across our courses. We created faculty - graduate student pairs to develop ten research oriented learning activities that have been instituted in nine courses (eight courses at UMD and one course at a local community College) that enroll ~1200 students annually. These active-learning modules use authentic research problems and approaches, and are grounded in best practices of both scientific research and pedagogy. We created grading rubrics and supplemented these with student survey and HPI concept inventory data to assess the impact of the activities on student learning. Assessment data show that these activities increased student awareness of campus research activities and helped them develop fundamental scientific research skills, including critical thinking, interpretation and presentation of data, and scientific writing. The HPI-TC provides professional development for faculty members through discussions and reflective analysis of students’ understanding of course material. The inclusion of graduate students provided the graduate Fellows with role models for balancing teaching and research responsibilities. The HPI-TC monitors student learning through the HPI CI, which asks students to provide open-ended explanations for their multiple-choice response. Collaborators at Virginia Tech (VT), who share our research and teaching interests, have formed an analogous teaching community and have implemented the HPI CI. We are working with VT faculty to mine HPI CI data to identify students’ common misconceptions, categorize them according to their origins, and map them onto the Vision and Change Core Concepts and ASM Microbiology Overarching Concepts. The HPI faculty have inspired reform by contributing to campus initiatives including the new learning outcomes based General Education program, and to national conversation on education reform by participating in national conferences.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Our research team is composed of faculty of all ranks. The science research faculty, in recent years, have found an unexpected challenge in the lack of availability of grant funds for research. The amount of time spent writing grants is a drain on faculty time. The collegiality built among the HPI-TC members has provided a support mechanism for faculty that contributes to sharing, collaborating, and supporting in a manner that has helped faculty deal with this added pressure.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Our group regularly strives to publish work and present at conferences.

Acknowledgements: We would like to acknowledge supported from an HHMI grant to the College of Chemical and Life Science and grant from NSF (CCLI-1 DUE 0837315)