We are pleased to announce the Winter 2017 issue of Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal. This issue provides a variety of articles that describe successful strategies for engaging students.
L. Jay Deiner (New York City College of Technology, City University of New York), Gregory Galford (Chatham University), and Nancy Trun (Duquesne University) describe an innovative strategy to assist students to understand complex, multidisciplinary community issues. A partnership between students studying chemistry and those studying interior architecture created a mutually beneficial learning environment in which all students could approach a brownfield redevelopment project from multiple perspectives.
Steve Cohen and Melanie Pivarski (Roosevelt University) partnered with Barbara Gonzáles-Arévalo (Hofstra University) to examine how the integration of projects into a Calculus II course impacted students who were designing the projects and those who were serving as embedded tutors. The authors evaluated the project using surveys, interviews, and classroom observations. Based on these data, they conclude that tutors reported greater confidence in the knowledge and teaching of calculus, whereas project designers gained educational benefits that were similar to those obtained from an undergraduate research experience.
Dan Mushalko (National Public Radio), Johnny DiLoretto (a performer), and Robert E. Pyatt (Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Ohio State University) created a program for informal science education that invites moviegoers to participate in hands-on science activities prior to seeing a newly released film at a not-for-profit movie theater. Their approach has been successful at providing engaging enjoyable science experiences in an unexpected setting.
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, was widely publicized in the news media. Stephen G. Prilliman (Oklahoma City University) used this incident as the foundation for his upper-level inorganic chemistry course. Students performed literature-based research projects that examined topics ranging from the aqueous chemistry of lead to therapies for treating lead poisoning. The instructor noted that the project was particularly effective at enabling students to make connections among various inorganic chemistry topics, while also prompting them to appreciate the connection between chemistry and an important civic issue.
What type of assessment strategies can be used to gain insight into students’ understanding of a complex scientific concept like an ecosystem? Rob Sanford (University of Maine) has developed an assessment tool that asks students to draw an ecosystem and score the results using a rubric. Comparing students’ ecosystem drawings at the beginning and end of the semester revealed a statistically significant improvement in their understanding of ecosystems processes and interactions.
We wish to thank all the authors for sharing their insightful work with the readers of this journal.
— Trace Jordan and Eliza Reilly, Co-Editors-in-Chief
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The following photographs were used under the Creative Commons license: Roosevelt University (Ken Lund), Gowanus Canal (Allison Meier), Flint, MI (USDA/Lance Cheung), and Cloud Pond (lawepw). The photograph for the Geek Sneaks article is courtesy of Robert Pyatt.