Since 2014, the Disciplinary Science Education Research Center (dB-SERC) has supported faculty members in the development of projects aimed at innovating in the teaching and learning of the natural sciences.
This year, dB-SERC awarded four Course Transformation Awards. Recipients receive funding for equipment, student support or summer salaries for teachers. dB-SERC also awarded a mentor-mentee award to support projects led by students and faculty working together.
Course Transformation Rewards
Grading based on MSc Chemistry 0110 General Chemistry 1: Sean Garrett-Roe (Chemistry Department)
This project will build on a previous course makeover that involved running frequent, low-stakes assessments focused on student learning. Now, Garrett-Roe will validate its initial pool of General Chemistry assessment questions, increase the number and variety of complex questions, and expand the assessment infostructure to maximize the transferability of mastery-based scoring.
Helping General Chemistry Students Use Spaced Practice to Enhance Learning: Peter Bell (Chemistry Department)
For this project, Bell will create a large database of 2 general chemistry questions. Then it will implement short daily assignments to replace longer out-of-class assignments. This will allow students to be more aware of their progress, seek help sooner, and discourage limiting study to long, intense sessions just before exams.
Transforming Large, Lecture-Based STEM Courses with One-on-One Coaching: Extending ECoach to Pitt as an Introductory STEM Course: Jessica Wandelt (Department of Biological Sciences), Jennifer Ganger (Department of Psychology) and Lingfeng “Kitty” Liu (Department of Chemistry)
“ECoach” is a personalized coaching tool that supports student success through tailored communication and interventions. Wandelt, Ganger, and Liu will implement ECoach in two high-enrollment courses (Introduction to Biology and General Chemistry 1) to provide a solid foundation of study skills, metacognitive awareness, and fair resources for new students in freshman year at Pitt.
Physics Research Writing: Gurudev Dutt (Department of Physics and Astronomy) and Jennifer Keating (Institute for Writing Excellence)
Dutt and Keating will create a new physics course for undergraduate and graduate students so students can develop a variety of communication skills needed in the field. Students will learn how to move from designing research and analyzing results to disseminating results. The course will include skills related to reading and writing journal articles as well as technical reports, grant proposals and fellowship applications.
Mentor / Mentee Award
Help students learn chemistry: Mentor, Margaret Vines, and mentees Nicole Saltzman and Nicholas Corsello (Department of Chemistry)
This project will develop a new curriculum that allows students not only to gain additional practice in chemistry problem solving, but also to hone their skills in justifying their thought processes and developing their scientific intuition.