September 18        


Cliff Konold

Scientific Reasoning Research Inst.

University of Massachusetts


“Bringing Data and Chance Together in the Middle School”
In current curriculum materials for middle school students in the US, data and chance are considered as separate topics. They are then ideally brought together in the minds of high school or university students when they learn about statistical inference. In recent studies we have been attempting to build connections between data and chance in the middle school by using a modeling approach made possible by new software 
capabilities that will be part of TinkerPlots 2.0. Using a new Sampler object, students build “factories” to model not only prototypical chance events, but also distributions of measurement errors and of heights of people. I provide the rationale for having students model a wide range of phenomena using a single software tool and describe how we are using this capability to help young students develop a robust, statistical perspective.


October 2               


Frederick C Zinn    

Senior Designer - Instructional Technology

OIT Academic Computing

University of Massachusetts


“Using Blog Software to Create a Course Website: a Demonstration with Discussion”


Blog software allows instructors to easily create a public site for a course that includes announcements, basic course information and simple mechanisms for collecting comments. Using a blog instead of a "standard" HTML-based Web site offers instructors a much easier way to post course content and announcements on the Web. UMass Amherst released a blog service for both faculty and students in Spring 2007. This session will include a demonstration of this new service and several examples of how blogs have been used at UMass Amherst by faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students to support their academic work.




October 16             


Mary Moriarty

Assessment Researcher

Picker Engineering Program

Smith College


“Inclusive Pedagogy: Teaching Methodologies to Reach Diverse Learners in Science Instruction”


This presentation will report findings from a study that used quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the use of inclusive pedagogy by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty at three community colleges. The purpose was to identify pedagogical methods and barriers to the adoption of inclusive teaching methods for diverse learners and students with disabilities and to propose ways to break down these barriers. Implications for practice and research will be discussed.


November 6           


Julian Tyson                       

Dept of Chemistry

University of Massachusetts


“The Undergraduate Component of The Arsenic Project”


The undergraduate component of The Arsenic Project consists of a one-credit, independent study Honors Colloquium involving several small groups, each of which consists of one graduate student mentor, one student taking a junior-level analytical chemistry course, and several students taking freshman chemistry.  The program, which started in fall of 2004 and so far has involved about 200 freshman and 50 juniors, is designed to have many of the characteristics of an authentic research project.  It takes place over a significant time period, allowing students the opportunity (a) to become familiar with the relevant big picture, detailed background, and previous work, (b) to conduct a series of experiments, in which the designs of the later ones can be based on the outcomes of earlier ones, (c) to draw conclusions, summarize the findings, make suggestions for further work, and (d) write a report containing the findings of interest to the broader community.  Each group (a) researches background topics, which I select, and writes about their findings, (b) works on a project that I select in conjunction with the graduate student mentor, (c) writes a proposal and final report, and (d) makes 2 or 3 oral presentations to the other groups.  Most of the projects involve taking environmental samples and measuring the arsenic content, which can be done either with a simple test kit or in my research laboratory.  Feedback indicates that participants acquired relevant content knowledge and skills, and that they were motivated to look for further research experiences. 



November 20


Heath Hatch                        

Dept of Physics

University of Massachusetts


“Four Years of Teaching with the Tablet PC: What Works and What Doesn’t”


Heath Hatch has been using the tablet PC to teach physics to both large and small classes for the past four years.  He has also used the tablet PC for online teaching.   For this seminar, he will describe some techniques that have proved successful and discuss other approaches that haven't worked as well as hoped when using the tablet PC as a teaching tool.  Information about added software that can be used to enhance the lecture, both in class and online, will be presented.   The tablet PC is like having the best of both worlds: a chalkboard and modern technology together in one clean package!



December 4


Ian Beatty

Physics Education Research Group

Scientific Reasoning Research Institute

University of Massachusetts


“Teacher Learning of Technology-Enhanced Formative Assessment: A research

project involving secondary school science and math classroom response

systems and teacher professional development”


Experience and research show that "classroom response system" technology such as InterWrite PRS can be very powerful for supporting student-centered instruction, formative assessment, and teacher change -- when used skillfully in the service of good pedagogy. It also shows that for most teachers, learning to use the technology and pedagogy is a challenging and slow process. SRRI members are currently half-way through a five year NSF-funded project in which we give PRS sets to teachers at three area schools, provide an intensive and long-running professional development program to help participants learn to use them effectively, and study the details of how they learn, adapt to, and personalize the approach. We'll introduce the technology and pedagogy with a hands-on demonstration, and share some of the things we're learning from our participating teachers.