F: Understanding Transformation through Assessment


TITLE: Evolution of STEM Faculty Perceptions of Concept Map Assessments

PRESENTERS: Lindsay Owens, University of Cincinnati - Main Campus; Chad Huelsman, University of Cincinnati - Main Campus; and Helen Meyer, University of Cincinnati - Main Campus

This interpretive mixed methods research study revealed how four university STEM faculty members reflected upon the transformation of student learning using concept map assessments. Semi-structured interviews were used to integrate reflective discourse with the quantitative and qualitative results of the concept map assessments. This integration led to favorable changes in the beliefs, attitudes and values of using pre- and postassessments within the faculty’s own classrooms. One such change included the practitioners elaborating on how they could utilize concept maps as a part of their curriculum and instruction in future STEM courses at the undergraduate level, despite having not used concept maps in the past.

The study also uncovered how the faculty, with varying degrees of concept map experience, interpreted student learning progressions through the quantitative and qualitative results of the pre- and post-concept map assessments. Specifically, the faculty believed that the qualitative results provided insight to the mental connections students were making within the content of their course. This study benefits educators interested in using concept mapping to interpret students’ prior knowledge with a pre-concept map and student learning progressions by interpreting the shift from pre- to post-concept map. The long term goal of this study is to assist educators through reflective discourse to see concept maps as an alternative to the traditional assessments which focus predominantly on output instead of organization of knowledge, and to see shifts in students’ pre- and post-concept maps as a model of student learning.


TITLE: Creating a Coherent STEM Gateway for Teaching and Learning: An AAU STEM Initiative Project

PRESENTERS: Melanie M. Cooper, Michigan State University; Joseph S. Krajcik, Michigan State University; Diane Ebert-May, Michigan State University; Marcos D. Caballero, Michigan State University; Sonia M. Underwood, Michigan State University; James T. Laverty, Michigan State University; Sarah E. Jardeleza, Michigan State University; Rebecca L. Matz, Michigan State University; Cori L. Fata-Hartley, Michigan State University; and Lynmarie A. Posey, Michigan State University

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology noted in 2012 that “the first two years of college are the most critical to the retention and recruitment of STEM majors.” Researchers and faculty at Michigan State University have responded to this call from PCAST by initiating transformation of the gateway biology, physics and chemistry courses.

The MSU transformation process engages disciplinary faculty in conversations to determine the core ideas of the discipline and how students should be able to use those ideas combined with scientific practices and crosscutting concepts to explain phenomena and solve problems, or 3-Dimensional Learning. The emphasis on 3-Dimensional learning means that transformed instructional and assessment practices must be developed, implemented and evaluated. Our long-term goal is to transform the gateway courses so that students learn to engage with the disciplinary core ideas, scientific practices and crosscutting concepts in the same way that scientists do. The outcomes of these discussions will be examined in multiple ways, including investigating how faculties integrate 3-Dimensional learning into course instruction and assessments. A suite of instruments to assess changes over time in the content, instructional practices and assessments used in the gateway courses is currently in development and will be discussed.


TITLE: A Social Constructivist Perspective of Teacher Knowledge: The PCK of Biology Faculty at Large Research Institutions

PRESENTERS: Kathleen Hill, Bethany College - Bethany

Research and policy continue to call for improvements in undergraduate STEM education, including reforms to undergraduate teaching. To implement effective reforms, it is important to characterize the knowledge for teaching that postsecondary level teachers possess as well as understand the social experiences that influence this knowledge. Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) is a framework used to explore and assess the various types of knowledge that teachers possess, use, and develop for teaching. Only a limited number of studies have explored the PCK of science teachers at the postsecondary level.

This study of postsecondary STEM teachers had two foci: (1) to characterize the PCK of biology faculty at large research institutions, and (2) to investigate the social experiences that contributed to their PCK. Data included semi-structured interviews and classroom observations along with faculty-generated documents and instructional artifacts. A qualitative inquiry was designed to conduct an in-depth investigation involving six biology instructors who were actively engaged in teaching large introductory courses.

The findings revealed that the PCK of the biology faculty included eight domains of knowledge. Based upon the variations of knowledge within these domains, three categories of faculty PCK emerged: (1) PCK as an expert explainer, (2) PCK as an instructional architect and (3) a transitional PCK, which fell between the two prior categories. A comparison the participants between the three groups, the faculty had varied social experiences that influenced their PCK. This research serves to inform faculty and administrators seeking to design faculty development programs to improve undergraduate science teaching.


TITLE: Supporting STEM Education: Reflections of the Central Indiana Talent Expansion Project

PRESENTERS: Jeffery X. Watt, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Charles Feldhaus, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Howard Mzumara, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Stephen Hundley, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Kathleen Marrs, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Andrew Gavrin, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; and Lisa G. Bunu-Ncube, A.T. Still University of Health Sciences

This presentation will describe how Central Indiana STEM Talent Expansion Program (CI-STEP) has impacted student learning outcomes and transformed teaching and learning in STEM courses through several miniprojects. The purpose of CI-STEP is to increase the number of students in central Indiana obtaining STEM degrees. CI-STEP targets undergraduate STEM programs in the Schools of Science and Engineering and Technology. In addition, the CI-STEP is collaborating with Ivy Tech Community College Central Indiana. The greatest impact and most successful initiatives in the CI-STEP has been the Mini-Grant program developed by the CI-STEP team. This move toward planned, revolutionary change involved recruiting STEM faculty from schools across the IUPUI campus to participate in meaningful change that resulted in measurable progress and success for STEM students. A request for proposals to all faculty explicitly stated that each proposal include work that was above and beyond the normal requirements of the position, that successful achievement of the objectives or outcomes would promote retention and persistence in STEM and clear, concise methods of assessment and evaluation be included in all proposals. Awards ranging from $5,000-$25,000, involvement of collaborators, immediate impact on a broad range of students and demonstrated innovativeness, effectiveness
and inclusiveness were also prerequisites for successful awards.

CI-STEP attributes much of its impact to date on the increase of STEM graduates to the successfully funded mini-grants and their dedication to the mission of STEP, ultimately taking a step toward institutional and cultural change on our campus. The goal of this presentation is to demonstrate strategies for effectively increasing the numbers of students of all demographic groups who:

  1. pursue STEM academic and career pathways;
  2. participate in STEM research, industry internships, and honors activities;
  3. graduate with an undergraduate degree in STEM fields; and
  4. transition into industry, graduate and professional programs.