Fall 2001 STEM Education Institute Seminars


All talks are held on the first and third Tuesday of the month during the academic year.  Note that with the exception of  November 6, 2001, all talks are held in room 138, Hasbrouck Laboratory, UMass.  Also, all talks are held at 4pm (refreshments @ ~3:45pm), last for about 50 minutes and are followed by Q & A. These talks are collectively, a recognized UMass course (Physics 691E: “Seminar in Science Education”, one credit, coordinated by William Gerace, UMass Physics.


September 18, 2001

Amy L. Rhodes, Department of Geology, Smith College


Using a Mock Trial to Develop Scientific Literacy in Introductory Geology


In 1999 and 2000, students in an introductory, environmental geology course  (65 students) conducted a mock trial that examined evidence related to an actual legal case presented in the story A Civil Action, by Jonathan Harr.  This book recounts the lawsuit brought by eight families from Woburn, MA who charged that two industrial companies  illegally dumped trichloroethlene and other industrial waste, which subsequently entered the  groundwater, contaminated two municipal water supply wells, and caused their children  to contract leukemia.  A Civil Action provided a framework for teaching basic geologic principles that relate to groundwater movement, human water supply, and connections between industrial contamination and health problems…..


October 2, 2001

Martha N. Cyr, Director, Center for Engineering Educational Outreach, Tufts University


Engineering – A Marvelous Integrator for All Learners (K-16)


Abstract: By its very nature, engineering involves people working on multidisciplinary projects.  The School of Engineering at Tufts University has utilized this aspect of engineering at both the college and K-12 levels.  Our engineering outreach efforts for K-12 focus on increasing the technological literacy of all students.  The work we do with K-12 educators emphasizes engineering based projects as a relevant application for learning science, math, and language arts.  At the college level, as a result changing our first year engineering college curriculum to reflect the applied, multidisciplinary nature of engineering, we have seen a net influx of students to engineering.  This presentation discusses both the college and K-12 outreach components and how lessons learned from each one strengthen the other.


October 16, 2001 

Presentation by Aaron Kropf, Val Veneman, Chris Emery, Michael Cunha, Amanda Rappold, and Evie Huguenin with Allan Feldman, UMass School of Education


Using Technology To Facilitate The Use Of Formative Assessment In Physics


Abstract: For the past four years a group of high school teachers

has been working with the UMass Physics Education Research Group on a project called Assessing to Learn. It is similar to the ClassTalk system used at UMass that allows students to respond to multiple choice questions posed in various formats.  A histogram of the results of the voting can be viewed on a monitor by everyone in the room and is used to motivate discussion of physics concepts. In the high school it is used in classes of 20-30 students rather than large lecture halls. In the spring of 2001, a collaborative action research group, consisting of six high school teachers, a School of Education Faculty member and a graduate student was formed to begin an in-depth study of the role of the technology as a tool for formative assessment.  The group discussed the many ways it can be incorporated into a lesson.  This talk will provide an overview of the work and what has been learned to date in the project.


November 6, 2001.  Note: One-time Location Change!  Herter Hall, H-R1

Mark Schlesinger, Associate Professor and Director, Communication Program, University of Massachusetts Boston


Reducing the Distance in Distance learning.


Abstract: As universities employ distance learning techniques to reach new clients - and to reach traditional clients in a new manner - we must raise more urgently questions concerning the relationship between physical remoteness and the student's sense of engagement, his/her participation, and ultimately his/her learning.  Our meeting examines early findings on these matters, draws principles for "reducing the distance," and offers methods that carry out those principles.  We shall explore whether "remoteness" inhibits learning, and whether students' experience of "immediacy" (sense of emotional closeness to a professor or course) is important and can be addressed pedagogically. Presentation and discussion will focus on two major modes of distance learning: interactive television (teleconferencing, ITV) and online instruction (Web-based).


November 20, 2001 

Patsy Beffa-Negrini, Brian Miller , and Nancy Cohen, UMass Nutrition Department


Factors Related to Student Success in Online Learning


Abstract: Course evaluation data will be presented from two studies of students enrolled in Nutrition for Health Online, a web-based course in introductory nutrition. The first study compared online learners (n=34) to those (n=434) who completed the same course in a large lecture format and identified factors that affect students' achievement and course satisfaction such as age, gender, and previous nutrition knowledge.  Using three semesters of data from online learners only (n=54), the second study analyzed factors (gender, age, prior attitude toward nutrition or technology, effort and time spent completing course activities, satisfaction with participant-participant interaction, and pretest knowledge) that affect course outcomes (computer competency, nutrition behavior change, course satisfaction, satisfaction with the instructor, course grade and knowledge gain).


December 4, 2001

Sarina Ergas, UMass Civil and Environmental Engineering Department


Learning Science and Engineering Through Teaching Teachers


Abstract: I will share my experiences having my students teach hands-on laboratory activity based workshops to middle and high school science teachers.  The workshops help Civil & Environmental Engineering undergraduates understand complex topics such as photochemical smog formation, global warming, stratospheric ozone depletion and sources, fate and effects of non-point water pollution.  Through the teaching of teachers, the workshops set up an environment for in depth learning, community service and professional growth.