Rollins Faculty Selected to Participate in Science Pedagogy Seminar

A team of Rollins faculty members has been selected by the Council of Independent Colleges to participate in a seminar focused on adopting active learning methods in the sciences.

Students in physics professor Chris Fuse’s The Science of Superheroes course put bones to the test to find out how much force they can withstand before they break. Photo by Scott Cook. Students in physics professor Chris Fuse’s The Science of Superheroes course put bones to the test to find out how much force they can withstand before they break. Photo by Scott Cook.

A group of Rollins faculty members has been selected as one of 10 teams from a competitive national pool of applicants to participate in a new program designed to prepare faculty members to adopt active learning methods proven to be successful in teaching science. The summer 2019 seminar is offered by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and is supported by a $300,000 grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation.

Both early career and established faculty will partner on the team to revitalize the College’s introductory science courses. The team—which includes Ashley Cannaday, Brian Mosby, Pedro Bernal, and Susan Singer—will learn to implement new methods based on the research findings of Stanford University professor of physics and Nobel laureate Carl E. Wieman. These methods are designed to improve teaching effectiveness and student learning in biology, chemistry, and physics.

“Being selected for the CIC seminar is a testament to the commitment of our talented science faculty to our students,” says Susan Singer, vice president for academic affairs and provost.

Although small colleges have long been recognized for the high percentages of their science majors who complete undergraduate degrees, earn advanced degrees, and enter STEM careers, this seminar marks the first systematic attempt to promote this powerful pedagogy among faculty members at smaller independent colleges and universities. Wieman provided the inspiration for and has been the guiding force in developing the seminars, recommending the facilitators, providing the syllabus, and shaping the process.

“The ability to think like a scientist is critical for all students, not just those who will major in STEM or plan to pursue an advanced degree,” says CIC president Richard Ekman. “Systematic change is needed to create the science-literate population needed to understand research-based science policy, which affects all aspects of today’s society.”

The first seminar will take place July 15–19, 2019, at Holy Names University in Oakland, California. After the seminar, college faculty members will participate in webinars, as well as conference calls and a site visit for each institution.

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