Primary Literature for First-Year Students: Adapting CREATE

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Title of Abstract: Primary Literature for First-Year Students: Adapting CREATE

Name of Author: Sally Hoskins
Author Company or Institution: City College of the City University of New York
Author Title: Professor
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development, Introductory Course(s), Upper Division Course(s)
Approaches: Adding to the literature on how people learn, Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.), Material Development, Mixed Approach
Keywords: C.R.E.A.T.E. strategy, critical thinking, journal articles, epistemology, first-year

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Kristy Kenyon, Colleges of Hobart and William Smith

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: Our project had three key goals. (1) Adapt the C.R.E.A.T.E. (Consider, Read, Elucidate hypotheses, Analyze and interpret the data, and Think of the next Experiment) strategy for first-year students. (2) Teach a new course, C.R.E.A.T.E. Cornerstone: Introduction to Scientific Thinking, for entering first-year STEM-interested students at CCNY, a minority serving institution (MSI). (3) Assess potential cognitive and/or affective gains made by students during the semester-long course. We are also interested in whether these students persist in STEM and participate in undergraduate research projects. The course design aligns well with Vision and Change recommendations to teach concept-oriented courses, introduce scientific process early, discuss the nature of science, run an active, student-centered classroom, and to narrow the breadth of topics included, so as to allow deep analysis.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: We chose a variety of popular-press science articles as well as some full-length journal articles as the focus for the course. We taught first-year students to use CREATE tools, including concept mapping, paraphrasing, cartooning, annotating figures, examining experimental logic, designing follow-up experiments, and participating in grant panels where they evaluated each other's proposals. We hypothesized that students’ analytical skills would be sharpened as they learned to apply CREATE tools, build critical-reading habits that could be used in new situations, and developed the metacognitive ability to determine what they did and did not understand. Late in the semester, we surveyed authors of the papers read with a single email survey of students' questions. Authors' wide-ranging and insightful responses helped to dispel students' preconceptions about 'scientists' and 'the research life'. By focusing on developing transferable skills, as well as on the nature of science, science process, and the passion scientists have for their work, the methodology reflects multiple core Vision and Change recommendations.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: To examine students' potential cognitive gains we used the Critical Thinking Ability Test (CAT; Stein et al., 2012) and the Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT; Sirum and Humburg, 2011). To examine potential affective gains we used the Survey of Student Attitudes, Abilities and Beliefs (SAAB, Hoskins, Lopatto, Stevens, 2011). These surveys were given pre/post to two sequential semesters of course participants (total N =40) We found significant gains (p< 0.05; paired t test) with large effect sizes for students on both the CAT and EDAT tests, suggesting that students improved their analytical skills during the Introduction to Scientific Thinking course. We also saw significant gains (p< 0.05; paired t test)in student attitudes on the SAAB, including self-rated abilities to read and analyze papers, visualize laboratory experiments, and 'think like a scientist' as well as changes in aspects of students' epistemological beliefs about science. Finally, students reported significantly more positive views of science and scientists, post-course.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Cognitive and affective gains are summarized above. Tracking continuing beyond the grant period will indicate the extent to which students participate in undergraduate research projects available for upper-level undergraduates, and the extent to which they persist in STEM. The Introduction to Scientific Thinking course was offered as an experimental course three times. We are in the process of proposing it as a permanent addition to the Biology curriculum.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: CCNY’s Science Division facilitated the initial offerings of Introduction to Scientific Thinking as an experimental elective, but it was challenging to make the course known to entering first-year students in advance of registration. We worked with an advising group on campus to define a population of students - those whose math scores required additional coursework before Biology 101 - who could be targeted and offered the course.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: We have presented our findings at TUES meetings, meetings of the Society for Neuroscience and Society for Developmental Biology, and SABER. As part of a separate NSF faculty development project, (1021443), we also disseminated our results to the 96 faculty from community and 4 year colleges who we trained in CREATE methods in intensive summer workshops at the Colleges of Hobart and William Smith (summer 2012, 2013). We have also published two papers: a study of introductory biology textbooks examining the extent to which they illustrate scientific process in figures (Duncan et al., 2011, JMBE 12: 143-151), and a report of the cognitive and affective changes seen in Introduction to Scientific Thinking students (Gottesman and Hoskins, 2013, CBE LSE 12: 59-72).

Acknowledgements: We are grateful to NSF for support on this project through a TUES type 1 grant, 0942790. We also thank our students for participating in the course and assessments.