Building Communities, Leveraging Partnerships

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Title of Abstract: Building Communities, Leveraging Partnerships

Name of Author: Teresa Mourad
Author Company or Institution: Ecological Society of America
Author Title: Director
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: Ecology and Environmental Biology, General Biology
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development, Introductory Course(s), Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: Community Infrastructure Partnerships Recognition Data literacy

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Professional societies can play a major role in elevating and implementing the Vision and Change recommendations. The Ecological Society of America, in partnership with other scientific organizations, has actively sought to promote many of the recommendations of the Vision and Change report at the undergraduate level for more than a decade. Our efforts to support Vision and Change in the past two years focused on two goals: 1) to develop data literacy educational materials and 2) to build and support communities of practice to promote active learning pedagogies.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: GOAL 1. A) Four data-intense modules based on publicaly available datasets have been published in ESA’s education journal - Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology (TIEE) and cataloged in EcoEd Digital Library (EcoEdDL) as part of our Big Data Collection, with support from National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). B) ESA partnered with Cornell University and NCEAS to produce data packages for Science Pipes, a data visualization tool. Faculty were recruited to join the Data in the Ecology Classroom Advisory (DECA) Panel from ESA, Botanical Society of America (BSA), Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE) and Society for Economic Botany (SEB). The advisory panel evolved into four working groups and identified the datasets that would teach core ecological concepts and and develop teaching modules. Three lesson modules have been completed. C) ESA coordinated a prototype summer undergraduate student workshop that explored landuse change and other regional issues. The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science put together a massive, socioecological dataset on the Potomac River Basin within the Chesapeake Bay watershed as a case study. In 2013, ESA included faculty from minority-serving institutions in the planning process of a second workshop. GOAL 2. In addition to TIEE and EcoEdDL, ESA has offered workshops, webinars, an online monthly newsletter – ‘Jigsaw’, and a listserv to build and support faculty development. A major development is the inaugural Life Discovery - Doing Science Education conference held in March 2013 jointly organized with BSA, SEB and SSE. Together, the four societies also steward a joint Life Discovery Ed Digital Library (LDDL) with separate disciplinary content portals, including EcoEdDL. The new conference was conceived as a working conference to advance undergraduate evolution, organismal and environmental biology with LDDL as the repository for the sharing of peer-reviewed teaching resources.

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 are using a series of participant / user surveys to gauge the perceived value of our efforts as well as the strength of our partnerships and networks in order to refine our strategies. We will monitor the number of submissions and deploy Google Analytics to determine the number of downloads of LDDL resources.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: It is still too early to discuss wide ranging impacts as these activities are in developmental and pilot stages. However, faculty in the Data in the Ecology Classroom teams indicated that their personal efforts have made an impact on the way they are designing their courses. Preliminary results from the Aug 2012 EcoEdDL user survey indicated that about 60% of users visited EcoEdDL more than several times each semester (N=85, representing 30% of registered users on the new platform). The three primary motivations for them to visit EcoEdDL is to strengthen their teaching (78%), gain access to a wide range of resources (63%) and learn from colleagues (59%). Nearly 51% of users sometimes found resources they were looking for, another 21% found resources most of the time and nearly 3% found resources they needed all the time. The top three resource types users wanted more of in EcoEdDL are non-lab assignments/activities (52%), datasets (48%) and lab exercises (48%). 77% of users indicated that they found resources on the EcoEd DL that they could not find elsewhere. When asked if EcoEdDL is having an impact on their teaching, 20% indicated a great deal and 23% indicated ‘quite a bit’. Feedback on two prototype webinars found they were useful in presenting key directions in education research, but participants asked for greater depth, more targeted information and resources on practical applications that address teaching challenges.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: One of the challenges in building communities of practice is that faculty need incentives and an efficient way to share teaching ideas. Similarly, scientists need to understand that the teaching community is looking for current science that can be incorporated into teaching and be motivated to submit. However, many teaching faculty do not feel they are ready to ‘publish’ their lesson ideas and many researchers do not know how to translate their science into educational products. Our vision is to bring together teams of educators and researchers - ‘communities of practice’ - who can bridge the two worlds. Among the ideas we are developing to address this issue is the Education Share Fair, which encourages faculty to share teaching ideas at whatever stage they might be at for peer feedback and the formation of a cadre of leaders recognized as ESA Education Scholars charged with outreach roles.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: A) ESA will continue to work with its partners to promote LDDL and the Life Discovery conference as well as at its own ESA annual meetings. ESA and partner have also begun talking with faculty networks who have teaching resources to share e.g. the Open Science Network, Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN) and Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network as well as offering PIs . B) We believe it is important to develop working groups that will build innovation leadership and capacity towards the adoption of Vision and Change and create momentum for culture change among our members. C) We have in place a set of baseline data for participants and users. Over time, we will be able to publish and share the results of our surveys with the community.

Acknowledgements: TIEE, EcoEdDL, LDDL and the Life Discovery - Doing Science Education Conference are made possible by the National Science Foundation in partnership with the Botanical Society of America, Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Society for Economic Botany and Society for the Study of Evolution.