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Connected Science

Connected Science: Strategies for Integrative Learning in College

Tricia A. Ferrett
David R. Geelan
Whitney M. Schlegel
Joanne L. Stewart
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Indiana University Press
Pages: 204
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  • Book Info
    Connected Science
    Book Description:

    Informed by the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL), Connected Science presents a new approach to college science education for the 21st century. This interdisciplinary approach stresses integrative learning and pedagogies that engage students through open-ended inquiry, compelling real-world questions, and data-rich experiences. Faculty from a variety of disciplines and institutions present case studies based on research in the classroom, offering insights into student learning goals and best practices in curriculum design. Synthetic chapters bring together themes from the case studies, present an overview of the connected science approach, and identify strategies and future challenges to help move this work forward.

    eISBN: 978-0-253-00946-3
    Subjects: Education, General Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword: The Scholarship of Integrative Teaching and Learning (pp. vii-xii)
    Mary Taylor Huber and Pat Hutchings

    This book emerges from the intersection of two important reform initiatives in higher education. The first involves the growth of a scholarship of teaching and learning among faculty across disciplines, and the second concerns the support of integrative learning among undergraduates across their college careers.

    The combination of these two developments can be powerful: faculty look closely and critically at classroom practice and student work in order to better understand and help students develop as integrative learners, able to connect their emerging knowledge, skills, and commitments across diverse settings. By asking questions about their students’ learning, seeking evidence to answer...

  4. Part I. Connected Science:: Why Integrative Learning Is Vital
    • 1 Fostering Integrative Capacities for the 21st Century (pp. 1-13)
      Tricia A. Ferrett

      I open with two stories to help frame the purpose and contributions of this book. These stories will provide concrete anchors for a more extended discussion of an approach to undergraduate science education—”connected science” learning and teaching.

      Several years ago a student from Africa did her senior thesis on the design of new drugs for HIV AIDS. Alice had a strong biochemistry background, and she was drawn to the moral purpose of her topic. As she evaluated the pros and cons of first- and second-generation drugs, she learned not only about research on chemical structure and function relationships at...

    • 2 From Student Learning to Teaching Foundations (pp. 14-28)
      Tricia A. Ferrett

      Chapter 1 made a practical and moral case for connected science in higher education today, and it set this case within a historical context while looking forward to the kind of scholarship that will be required to understand the results of this educational philosophy when it is put into action. The heart of connected science lies in our work with students. Thus, I turn now to a discussion of how connected science learning can benefit them. Then, I sketch some emerging themes for teaching that are implied by this student learning discussion and the literature—and grow out of the...

  5. Part II. Courses That Foster Integrative Learning
    • 3 Public Health and Biochemistry: Connecting Content, Issues, and Values for Majors (pp. 31-39)
      Matthew A. Fisher

      One of the challenges when incorporating integrative learning experiences in the undergraduate science curriculum for majors is the widely held perception by faculty that such changes would require significant sacrifices in the content that students learn. In my experience, however, changes made in a biochemistry course sequence for biochemistry, biology, and chemistry majors allowed the introduction of integrative learning opportunities without the loss of course disciplinary content. The revised sequence accomplished this goal by framing course content in the context of pressing public health issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, HIV/AIDS, and influenza. The revised courses challenged students to look at...

    • 4 Designing to Make a Difference: Authentic Integration of Professional Skills in an Engineering Capstone Design Course (pp. 40-52)
      Gregory Kremer

      What do engineers do, and how do they contribute to society? If you are unsure of your answer, you would be in the same position as the public in general and many potential and current engineering students in particular. In response to this situation, the National Academy of Engineering completed a study in 2008 titledChanging the Conversation. The study (NAE, 2008) found the most effective messages for helping a variety of audiences understand the role, importance, and career potential of engineering are:

      1. Engineers make a world of difference.

      2. Engineers are creative problem solvers.

      3. Engineers help shape the future.


    • 5 Integrative Learning in a Data-Rich Mathematics Classroom (pp. 53-58)
      Mike Burke

      For the past few years, I have been designing, and assigning, data-based integrative writing assignments in my mathematics classes. Each assignment presents the students with a data set about an important issue. Students are asked to analyze the data mathematically by constructing a mathematical model, and then to use a spreadsheet to implement the model. They are to produce a written paper in which they present their model (with a table and a graph), and then use this work as a basis for any conclusions that they reach. The opening quote is a thoughtful response to a description of this...

    • 6 Navigating Wormholes: Integrative Learning in a First-Year Field Course (pp. 59-76)
      Bettie Higgs

      Students often talk of lecturers who are “very good in the field.” One day I had the opportunity to assist one such lecturer in leading a group for an afternoon of geological fieldwork. He talked knowledgeably for the duration of the activity, while the students listened. By the end of the day the students had enjoyed the story, questioned nothing, and not recorded anything in notes or sketches. Some time later these students reported that they did not feel confident in the integrative skills associated with scientific fieldwork.

      One year later, at the end of a long but rewarding geological...

  6. Part III. Structures That Support Integrative Learning
    • 7 Linking Integrated Middle-School Science with Literacy in Australian Teacher Education (pp. 79-88)
      David R. Geelan

      “I’m sorry,” she sniffed, wiping her eyes and nose with a crumpled tissue. “It’s just that I really have no science background, and your presentation this morning made me really scared. I’m not sure I can pass this course, and I’m pretty sure I can’t teach science.” Perhaps Shelley’s story is not typical of all students in Middle Years of Schooling Science Education, the course I teach to prepare teachers to teach grades 4–9, but I will usually talk to at least one student like Shelley each semester, and know that there are perhaps three or four others in...

    • 8 SCALE-UP in a Large Introductory Biology Course (pp. 89-99)
      Robert Brooker, David Matthes, Robin Wright, Deena Wassenberg, Susan Wick and Brett Couch

      When the faculty of the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota reviewed their introductory biology curriculum in 2003–2004, they found courses that were being taught in much the same way as they had been for decades. The courses were thoughtfully, conscientiously, and enthusiastically taught. However, the innovative approaches to teaching and learning that had emerged in the preceding decades, and the increased understanding of the process of learning that provided the foundation for those approaches, hadn’t made their way into the large lecture courses dedicated to introducing students to biology and what it means to be...

    • 9 Reuniting the Arts and Sciences via Interdisciplinary Learning Communities (pp. 100-116)
      Xian Liu, Kate Maiolatesi and Jack Mino

      For more than a decade, Holyoke Community College (HCC) has been helping students pursue their learning in more intentional, connected ways using interdisciplinary learning communities (LCs). As a self-described “learner-centered institution,” HCC’s mission statement identifies LCs and interdisciplinary courses as two of the “contemporary assortment of instructional strategies” supported by the college. Our campus mission of providing access, equity, and excellence in teaching and learning infuses the Learning Community Program’s mission—to provide interdisciplinary learning communities to promote integrative learning across disciplines in the general education curriculum and career programs, and affirm the value of community for increasing student involvement...

    • 10 Pedagogies of Integration (pp. 117-140)
      Richard A. Gale

      Abrupt climate change: What is it and how do we know it when we see it? Why do we call it abrupt when it takes so long to happen? What makes something abrupt rather than gradual on a planetary scale? Where did we get these data, and how do humans figure into this? These were only a few of the questions raised by Carleton College freshman students one September morning. As class discussion shifted from the younger dryas event (which was part of the course) to Greenland ice cores (which was sort of part of the course), to the rise...

  7. Part IV. Broader Contexts for Integrative Learning
    • 11 Integrative Moves by Novices: Crossing Institutional, Course, and Student Contexts (pp. 143-159)
      Tricia A. Ferrett and Joanne L. Stewart

      The first-year seminar students were not going with the plan. They were engaged in a journey through richer and richer sets of ice core data going further back in time. First 50,000 years before the present, and eventually several million years before the present. They worked to interpret wildly oscillating climate data, drawing out meaning while readingThe Two-Mile Time Machine(Alley, 2002) andThe Tipping Point(Gladwell, 2002). Each time they cycled further back in time with more data, they encountered surprises—new data trends, new theories for abrupt climate change, and a need to reconsider their understanding. The...

    • 12 Facilitating and Sustaining Interdisciplinary Curricula: From Theory to Practice (pp. 160-174)
      Whitney M. Schlegel

      “No disciplinary viewpoint is inherently or universally true or superior to others” (Haynes, 2002, p. xv). This is where the story of the Human Biology Program begins, with an opportunity for faculty from diverse disciplines to set aside disciplinary hegemony and intellectually engage with one another in developing, implementing, and sustaining an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree program at a public research university and to emerge in partnership with their students from this experience with new ways of thinking.

      The founding faculty of the Human Biology Program on Indiana University’s flagship Bloomington campus described one of their most important roles in this...

  8. Appendix: List of Key Works Used in the Development of the Interdisciplinary Program in Human Biology (pp. 175-176)
  9. Contributors (pp. 177-178)
  10. Index (pp. 179-189)