Oberlin College AIRE Annual Report 09/99-09/00
Submitted by Jan Thornton, Oberlin College AIRE Project Director, 2/13/01
Second Year Activities
Note: Additional information can be found on the Oberlin College AIRE
A. Expansion of Efforts to Integrate Research
During the second year of the AIRE award, Oberlin College
continued to build a variety of efforts targeted towards further integration
of research and education. These include:
1) Continuing Conversations between CIRT, COT, and OCTET
The AIRE at Oberlin College is administered by the Committee for the Integration
of Research and Education (CIRT). CIRT members are appointed by the Dean
of the College and the committee is chaired by Dr Janice Thornton, the
AIRE Project Director. The CIRT committee includes four natural scientists
and two social scientists as well as a representative of the Oberlin College
Educational Plans and Policies Committee (EPPC). The CIRT committee members
for 99-00 are listed in the Oberlin AIRE website under Administration
of Oberlin's AIRE. CIRT has continued to coordinate activities with both
the Committee on Teaching (COT) and with the Oberlin Center for Technologically
Enhanced Teaching (OCTET). All three committees have purposes that coalesce
and we have jointly sponsored faculty discussions and workshops (see below).
2) Conversations with the Center for Service and Learning
Oberlin College hired a new Director for the Center for Service and Learning
(CSL). We began conversations with folks from the CSL to coordinate some
of our interests in outreach and working with the community. We co-sponsored
a brown bag discussion in spring 01 and will help sponsor a workshop for
Oberlin faculty in Apr 01.
3) Faculty Cross-Campus Discussions
We continued to sponsor campus-wide discussions ('Brown Bags') relevant
to the integration of research and education. In 1999-2000 these included
(see the Oberlin AIRE website for more detailed descriptions. Information
is under Campus Discussions link):
New Techniques for Increasing Student Participation in Courses: Why Bother?
Nov 29, 1999. Bruce Simonson, Professor of Geology attended the Sigma
Xi forum on reshaping undergraduate education. He discussed a series of
workshops he attended on issues such as ways to use peer instruction to
get students to think in class, instruction of nonscience majors in science
classes and tools for assessing inquiry-based learning.
Discussion on Teaching: Curriculum Development and Assesment, Feb 25,
2000. Faculty who had been attempting to do course assessment were invited
to share what they had done, what has worked, and what has not worked.
First-Year Course Design, Mar 16, 2000. Co-sponsored with COT. Oberlin
College is planning to institute a first year seminar program. Faculty
discussed what types of learning experiences should be in the first year
courses (e.g. should they be small, discussion and writing based, etc).
Collaborative Learning Sep 28, 2000. Co-sponsored with COT. We had three
faculty members give an example of how they use collaborative learning
in a course and then opened up the issue for discussion. The three faculty
who began the discussion were Brian Alegant who talked about a Music Theory
course, Eve Sandberg who spoke about a Politics course and a Mark Braford
who described a Neuroscience course. Descriptions are available at the
4) Curriculum Development Grants
In the first year of the award (1998-1999) 14 curriculum development grants
were awarded to 16 faculty members. Of these 14 awards, 8 grants were
for work to be carried out during the summer of 1999 (see First Year Annual
Report). Another 3 faculty developed their revised curriculum during the
summer of 2000.
In addition, during 1999-2000 a Request for Proposals was sent to all
members of the Oberlin College faculty. The Committee for the Integration
of Research and Education awarded 2 other grants. A brief summary of the
year 2000 grants is shown below. Additional grants will be awarded in
future years of the AIRE.
Those who developed their curriculum during the summer of 2000 include:
James Walsh, Associate Professor Mathematics, "Calculus and Environmental
Modeling". This project designed a course that exposes students to
mathematical modeling as a source of framing and gaining insight into
important questions about the observable world in a mathematical way.
Data gathered from the new Environmental Studies Center will be used to
design mathematical models that will define variables, create appropriate
differential equations, and arrive at an analysis and interpretation of
model output. Technology will be used to help understand the behavior
Steven Wojtal, Professor, and Karla Parsons-Hubbard, Assistant Professor
of Geology, "Laboratory Exercises for Longitudinal Studies of Stream
Flow". New laboratory exercises were developed that will give students
an opportunity to experience field work and examine stream flow in the
courses GEOL 160-Physical Geology and GEOL 162-Environmental Geology.
Data on stream flow rates, water quality, air quality and the relationships
between them will be collected and compared, and formed into long-term
longitudinal studies in order to document any changes that accompany climate
change due to changes in atmospheric composition. AIRE also provided money
to buy equipment to measure stream flow and water quality.
David Cleeton, Chair and Professor of Economics, "Mathcad Computer
Labs and Exercises". Computer lab assignments and exercises for ECON
206-Financial Management and ECON 253-Intermediate Microeconomics, were
developed or upgraded. Both courses integrate mathematical modeling in
class via a computer projector system and specific computer lab assignments
using the Mathcad software package. The prime objective is to teach students
to use Mathcad for financial and economic modeling.
Michael Loose, Associate Professor Neuroscience, "Revision of NSCI
321, Studies in Neuronal Function". This course for upper division
students was revised to include 1) a project proposal in the form of a
grant proposal, 2) a biweekly "lab meeting" where each team
presents the results gathered in the previous two weeks and 3) an end
of project report in the form of a scientific journal article. Throughout
the semester, the teams of students will develop, run, and analyze a scientific
experiment using neurophysiological techniques.
5) Natural Sciences Technology and Teaching Workshop for Faculty, June
5-9, 2000, Oberlin College. Recent developments in technology have enhanced
opportunities to increase the amount of investigative and collaborative
learning that can occur even in relatively large lecture courses. AIRE
and the Oberlin Center for Technologically Enhanced Teaching (OCTET) co-sponsored
a workshop for Oberlin College faculty to update them on developments
in technology and how these can be used to enhance pedagogy. Some of the
topics that were considered were; using technology in large introductory
science courses, ways to use technology to enhance collaborative learning,
and changes in technology and its effects on pedagogy in science education
at Oberlin College.
Further information can be found at www.oberlin.edu/OCTET/workshops/LabSciences
B. Documentation and Evaluation
1) Assessment of Individual Courses
Our goal is to stimulate effective curricular development, i.e. innovation
that really helps accomplish the educational goals of the course. To know
whether one is effective in meeting educational goals, one needs to clearly
explicate those goals, and develop and use reliable assessment tools to
measure when one has/has not been successful in meeting those goals. Through
this process one can then determine how things might be improved in the
To accomplish this task of effective curriculum development, we have used
a number of approaches. 1) As part of the Curriculum Development grants
awarded, faculty were told that they would need to assess the courses
(or parts of courses) they developed. However, many faculty members may
be unfamiliar with assessment methods and some have little motivation
to do assessment, partly because they are resistant to the additional
work required to learn and run assessments. 2) To help faculty learn the
purposes and principles of assessment and to develop their assessment
tools, we have run two Assessment Workshops (see below). We hoped that
if we could show faculty why and how to do assessment, that they would
continue the process beyond the duration of the AIRE. We believe that
relatively small efforts can yield useful information about an innovation's
effectiveness and ways to improve its impact. 3) We offer continuing help
with assessment. We had a faculty discussion on 2/25/00 to hear what faculty
have done in regards to assessment of their individual courses. This included
a discussion of what has and hasn't worked. We have also provided individual
expert help to faculty members, as needed. A faculty member who is experienced
in assessment practices, Patty deWinstanley from the Dept of Psychology,
has been acting as a consultant to faculty who are attempting to do assessment.
4) We have knowledgeable faculty members coordinating the assessment.
Patty deWinstanley and Jan Thornton will coordinate the individual course
assessments for AIRE, and explore whether we can develop a 'template'
to assess curricular innovations. A number of undergraduate interns will
assist with the project while learning about assessment. Dr deWinstanley
will also develop and coordinate Oberlin College's global AIRE assessment
2) Assessment Workshops at Oberlin College
The first of these Workshops was offered by Elaine Seymour in July 1999
and is described both in the Annual Report for 09/98-09/99 and on the
website under Assessment.
The second workshop was developed and run in June 2000 by Judith Beinstein-Miller,
Professor, and Patty deWinstanley, Associate Professor, in the Dept of
Psychology, Oberlin College. This workshop was very successful. At the
end, faculty were more motivated and able to tackle course assessment.
The materials from the workshop are on our AIRE website and we are preparing
a chapter on the Workshop for a forthcoming book coordinated by the Carnegie-Mellon
RAIRE group. I would recommend this workshop, or an adaptation of it,
to anyone interested in promoting and doing assessment.
3) Global Assessment of the Impact of the AIRE at Oberlin College.
We are also in the process of doing a global assessment of the impact
of the AIRE at Oberlin College. This will consist of four parts: 1) A
general questionnaire of students' perspectives on the research-like experience
within AIRE-sponsored courses. 2) A pre-test/post-test questionnaire of
the students in a subset of AIRE-sponsored courses. This questionnaire
will assess changes in attitude, knowledge, intentions, and skills. 3)
A questionnaire of the faculty about the design of their AIRE-sponsored
courses and their perspectives on the impact of the research-like experiences
on their teaching effectiveness.
4) A set of controlled experimental studies that examine
the level of knowledge obtained through research-like experiences versus
lectures for a sample of the activities that have been incorporated into
C. Dissemination and Outreach
1) Maintenance of the Oberlin AIRE website.
We have further developed the Oberlin AIRE website. The website describes
the award, what we have accomplished, etc. It is at www.oberlin.edu/~nsfaire.
We will continue to update this web site as the award progresses.
2) Workshop on Implementing the Integration of Teaching and Research,
Jan Thornton (AIRE Project Director) and Patty deWinstanley (CIRT member)
organized and ran a workshop at the Council for Undergraduate Research's
Eighth National Conference, June 2000, at Wooster College. The workshop
was very well attended and drew faculty from across the US. At the Workshop,
we discussed:1).What do we mean by the term 'integration of teaching and
research'? 2) Why do it? 3) How can it be encouraged? 4) How does Oberlin
College integrate teaching and research? We then broke into small groups
and discussed how the individual faculty members present integrate teaching
and research, and what works or doesn't work for them. We then met as
a large group and exchanged information on the same topic.
3) Workshop on Women in Science Activities, Workshop at the Council for
Undergraduate Research's Eighth National Conference, June 2000. Organized
by Bridget Gurley (DePauw Univ) and Jan Thornton (Oberlin College). We
discussed how to best incorporate events to encourage women in the sciences.
The topics discussed included the role that undergraduate research plays
in training and encouraging women in the sciences.
4) Talk to Alumni, Sep 2000. A number of science faculty members spoke
to members of the Oberlin College alumni council about the new science
facilities that are being constructed. Thornton spoke about the AIRE,
why one would want to integrate research and teaching, and how the new
facilities will help with the integration.
Goals for Year 3 (9/00-9/01)
Note: We anticipate that Oberlin College's AIRE will extend until 2002
A. Expansion of Efforts to Integrate Research and Education
1) CIRT-COT-OCTET-CSL Collaborations. We will continue to coordinate with
other groups on campus to sponsor interdisciplinary discussions on effective
ways to integrate research and teaching (see below). (CIRT is the Committee
for the Integration of Research and Education and oversees the AIRE; COT
is the Committee on Teaching; OCTET is the Oberlin College Center for
Technologically Enhanced Teaching; and CSL is the Center for Service and
2) College/Schools Initiative Collaborations. We will expand our collaborations
to include the College/Schools Initiative Committee. This committee is
interested in facilitating the exchange of information between the college
and local schools.
3) Curriculum Development Grants. We will distribute another round of
Request for Proposals to all faculty members and fund a number of curriculum
development projects which will be targeted toward better integration
of research and education in the classroom.
4) A Continuation of Cross-Campus Faculty Discussions. We will continue
to hold discussions on topics related to the integration of research and
education. We have already had or plan to have a number of discussions
(see below) and will continue to organize more in the future.
Workshop on Theory and Practice of Academically-Based Community Service,
by Ed Zlotkowski, scheduled for Apr 11, 2001. The Center for Service and
Learning and the AIRE will co-sponsor this workshop by a leading proponent
and scholar of service learning.
Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) at Oberlin, Feb 8, 2001. Co-sponsored
with COT. The newly appointed Drector of the Center for Service and Learning
described what is meant by ABCS and discussed some of the resources available
to faculty. Two faculty members then discussed their particular involvement
in ABCS. A discussion then ensued
Creating First Year Courses Nov 29, 2000. Co-sponsored with COT.
Talks by Brian Coppola, Nov 14 and 15, 2000. Co-sponsored by Chemistry
Dept, Dean's Office and AIRE. Dr Coppola, Prof Chemistry, U Michigan is
a nationally known educator and scholar. He gave two talks. The first
talk was for a general faculty audience and was titled; "Scholarship,
Teaching, and the Research University". The second was for a chemistry/science
faculty audience and discussed how he uses study groups to empower student
learning in chemistry classes.
Juggling: Balancing Teaching and Scholarship/Artistic Production"
Nov 9, 2000.
Co-sponsored with COT.
B. Documentation and Evaluation
1) Impementing Oberlin College's AIRE Assessment Plans. As discussed above,
we have developed an assessment plan that includes both assessment of
individual courses and a global assessment of AIRE at Oberlin College.
In year 3 we plan to continue giving the general questionnaire to students
in all AIRE sponsored courses and the pre-test/post-test questionnaires
of students in selected courses. We will also begin to develop the experimental
tests of the amount of knowledge gained from research-like vs lecture
experiences. We anticipate that this experimental research work will make
a significant contribution to the field and hence will be publishable.
2) Chapter on Curriculum Development and Assessment. We are in the process
of writing a chapter on Oberlin College's experiences under AIRE with
curriculum innovation and assessment. This chapter will be part of an
edited volume organized by folks at Carnegie-Mellon (see information on
C. Dissemination and Outreach
In the coming year we will further our efforts to disseminate the lessons
learned at Oberlin and to learn from others. We will continue to develop
opportunities and to seize other opportunities as they come along.
1) Oberlin AIRE website. We will continue to update our AIRE website.
2) Carnegie-Mellon RAIRE/AIRE Colloquium, Nov 2000. Jan Thornton participated
in this colloquium at which RAIRE and AIRE schools discussed what they
were doing at their institutions. We also discussed assessment, outreach/partnerships,
and technology. Thornton contributed to the discussion on assessment.
As a result of this colloquium, an edited book is planned. Oberlin College
will contribute a chapter on curriculum innovation and assessment.
3) Research Opportunities in the Sciences: How To Get Them, Nov 2000.
Oberlin College students were invited to a discussion with faculty from
each of the science departments to learn more about how to get research
4) Summer Workshop on Environmental Studies, June 2001. Oberlin Colleges
new Lewis Center for Environmental Studies has just recently been completed.
A workshop will be held that explores the future of the environmental
studies major at undergraduate institutions. Faculty from across the US
will be participating. The workshop will also provide an opportunity to
highlights Oberlin students participation in discovery-rich activities
and experiential learning.
5) Participation in Sigma Xis Workshop Series on Undergraduate Science
Education Reform. Oberlin College has volunteered to do a workshop (organized
by Jan Thornton and sponsored by Sigma XI and AIRE) aimed at disseminating
effective practices in undergraduate education and promoting discussion
on systemic, institution-wide reform in undergraduate SMET. We anticipate
that this workshop will take place summer 02, but planning will begin
in 01. We are in the process of constructing new science facilities and
feel that it would be best to hold this workshop after they are completed.
6) Faculty Presentations. AIRE-sponsored faculty members have been encouraged
to develop their curricular innovations in ways that can be made into
'transportable modules'. We anticipate that a number of faculty members
will present their curricular innovations at national meetings.