Rocky Mountain Science and Sustainability Network Academy

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Title of Abstract: Rocky Mountain Science and Sustainability Network Academy

Name of Author: Gillian Bowser
Author Company or Institution: Colorado State University
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Ecology and Environmental Biology
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, informal learning environments
Approaches: Assessment, Cohort-based learning
Keywords: Informal learning environments cohort-based learning of science social networking and leadership ecology natural resource management

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Mark Brown, Colorado State University Elizabeth Davis, University of New Haven

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: STEM learning for under represented minorities with a focus on using informal settings to teach science concepts and sustainability. Engaging minority students in the science behind sustainability and conservation of public lands Create global leaders in sustainability through cohort-based learning.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: 1. Cohort design with students in small active teams 2. Short intensive academy structure where the teams have short projects to conduct in the field in conjunction with topic lectures. 3. Peer-peer mentoring coupled with peer-faculty mentoring.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: 1. Pre- and post-evaluations of students followed by longer term follow up surveys one year after the academy experience 2. Online survey on social network site on themes and science learning 3. social network analysis post academy to determine network maps

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: 1. Engaging minority students: The RMSSN has conducted four academy classes of 25 students from 2010 - 2013. Each class is 70% diverse with strong representation from African Americans and Hispanic Americans. Native American students have been present at every academy but at significantly lower numbers. Asian students are also present although they are not considered an underrepresented minority in the sciences. 2. The cohort model has great success in engaging students in longer term conversations that span several years post academy. 3. Students relate to learning in the small cohorts and frequently maintain contact with their cohorts post academy. 4. graduation rates from colleges into internships, graduate schools, or professional positions currently is significantly high.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: 1. The original academy was designed to look at social networkings as part of a long term study. Network persistence is difficult to measure in relationships to science learning. 2. The academy represents a small group of students--to show effective results, the academy model would need to be larger. 3.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: 1. The RMSSN academy is a project in motion. Several peer reviewed papers have been published by Brown and Bowser on the cohort model and the social networking analysis has been expanded to include Northwestern University. 2. Student and faculty presentations at several conferences including Ecological Society of America, ISSRM, George Wright Society for Research in Parks and Protected Areas.

Acknowledgements: The RMSSN academy is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation to Bowser and Brown through the Research Coordination Network- Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE)