NC-FEW RCN funded!

I am very excited to share that ongoing endeavors I have led over the past 3 years to build a transdisciplinary community focused on education and education research grounded in the FEW-Nexus will be supported for the upcoming 5 years through a Research Coordination Networks (RCN) grant from the National Science Foundation. The project – INFEWS/T3 RCN: Cultivating a National Collaborative for Research on Food, Energy, and Water Education (NC-FEW; NSF-1856040) is co-funded through the Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS) program and education core research program (ECR) through Education and Human Resources (EHR). NC-FEW involves faculty from across the U.S. and is led by an amazing NC-FEW team, members of which have been working together since the beginning through prior early-stage funding from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award #1006539 and #2017-06281, the Network of STEM Education Centers/APLU (NSEC), the Agricultural Research Division at the University of Nebraska, and Virginia Tech in the National Capital Region (NCR). Stay tuned for information about future conferences, webinars, newsletters, and other community activities. Want to find out more? Check out the brand-new NC-FEW website and join us to get involved!

New publication on undergraduate students’ model-based reasoning about water systems

Congrats to current doctoral student Diane Lally on publication of WELL project research from the SCIL 109 course. In this study, Diane investigated undergraduate students’ use and evaluation of a data-driven, computer-based modeling tools developed by Co-PI, course co-instructor, and SNR colleague Trenton Franz. The study, which compares student outcomes over the 1st and 2nd year of the course, also provides evidence for the impact of ongoing course refinement we have been engaged in over time as part of the project. The study adds to a growing number of publications from our project work with the 109 course, as well as broader efforts within my research group focused on model-based teaching and learning. It’s great to have empirical evidence in support of our team’s hard work on the 109 course over the last 3 years and kudos to Diane for her significant contributions to this work!

Lally, D. & Forbes, C.T. (2019).  Modeling water systems in an introductory undergraduate course: Students’ use and evaluation of data-driven, computer-based modelsInternational Journal of Science Education, 41(14), 1999-2023.

Sutter thesis publication

Congrats to former Masters student Ashley (McKenzie) Sutter on publication of one of her thesis studies. This particular study explores 7th-grade students’ reasoning and science-informed decision-making about a local wind energy socio-scientific issue. Published in the International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, the article explores how middle school students problematized this issue, used available information to prioritize its most critical elements, and proposed feasible solutions to perceived challenges.

Sutter, A.M., Dauer, J.M., Kreuziger, T., Schubert, J., Forbes, C.T. (2019). Sixth-grade students’ problematization of and decision-making about a wind energy socio-scientific issue. In International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 28(3), 242-256.

ESERA Summer School 2019

As part of my Fulbright stay in Germany this summer, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in the European Science Education Research Association‘s 2019 summer school for graduate students. Held June 4-9 in Crete, Greece, the summer school brought together nearly 50 doctoral students and 20 faculty mentors from around the world to support graduate-level science education research. During the event, I gave an invited plenary talk on results of Fulbright-supported PISA-focused research and served as a faculty mentor. The event was highly engaging and presented an outstanding opportunity to learn about and advance high-quality science education research focused on many different topics spanning grade levels and disciplinary domains. It was great work with faculty colleagues from across Europe in service of the goals and mission of this annual event. Kudos to Dimitris Stavrou, Professor of Science Education at the Department of Primary Education, University of Crete, and Chair of the organizing committee, for putting together a productive program and offering Crete as an amazing site for the summer school!

Publication on undergraduate geoscience education

Over the past two years, I have had the opportunity to contribute as a research team member on the National Geoscience Faculty Survey project led by SERC and made possible by funding from NSF. As part of this effort, I was fortunate to collaborate with Dr. Karen McNeal, as well as doctoral students Diane Lally (UNL) and Nick Soltis (Auburn University), on analysis of data from the 2016 administration of the survey to investigate U.S. geoscience faculty members’ reported emphasis on scientific modeling and systems thinking in their undergraduate courses. Based on a sample of over 2000 postsecondary instructors, the study shows these elements to be more heavily emphasized by faculty members from certain geoscience subdisciplines than others and who generally show greater engagement with instructional innovation. This was a great experience working with a wonderful team on a unique dataset and we all hope these are findings that will be accessible and useful to postsecondary geoscience faculty nationwide.

Lally, D., Forbes, C.T., McNeal, K., & Soltis, N. (2019).  National Geoscience Faculty Survey 2016: Prevalence of systems thinking and scientific modeling learning opportunities. Journal of Geoscience Education, 67(2), 174-191.

Invited grad colloquium in Cyprus

This past weekend, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel from Kiel, Germany to Nicosia, Cyprus at the invitation of colleagues in the School of Humanities, Social, and Education Sciences at the European University-Cyprus. Each spring, the Department of Education Sciences holds day-long colloquium for Ph.D. students with a focus on enhancing their education research skills and sharing international perspectives on education research. I had the pleasure of presenting and facilitating a working session on the role of theory in education research. My presentation, entitled, “Theory in Education Research: The Reciprocity of Scholarly Thought and Action”, focused on some foundational ideas about the reciprocal relationship between theory and empirical research. As part of the session, students used examples from current CliMES project and PISA analyses to explore these ideas through concrete examples. This was an engaging ‘value-added’ opportunity made possible by my Fulbright and really fun to think explicitly about some of these aspects of our scholarly work that become increasingly internalized over time. Many thanks to Prof. Loucas Louca for the invitation to make the quick trip to Cyprus.

MoHSES project capstone research published

The final, capstone study from the MoHSES project has been published in the May issue of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching. This comparative research investigates the implementation and 3rd-grade students’ model-based learning associated with two versions of the FOSS Water unit. The study provides evidence that students experiencing the project-developed, model-based version of the curriculum showed greater gains in their model-based explanations for water-related phenomena than did students experiencing the standard version of the unit. These findings reflect many years of hard, collaborative work with truly amazing elementary teachers to develop effective resources to support model-based science teaching and learning. This manuscript was a significant team effort that I am very pleased to see in print.

Baumfalk, B., Bhattacharya, D., Vo, T., Forbes, C.T., Zangori, L., & Schwarz, C. (2019).  Impact of model-based curriculum and instruction on 3rd-grade students’ scientific explanations for the hydrosphere. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 56(5), 570-597.

Petitt thesis publication

Congrats to former Masters student and WELL project team member Destini Petitt on publication of her thesis research conducted as part of the WELL project. Destini’s study explored how undergraduate students from developing and developed countries leveraged their values to reason about socio-hydrological issues. Published in Natural Sciences Education, the article illustrates students’ priority values, alignment between these priority values and their proposed solutions to water-related challenges, as well as similarities and differences in both between the two groups of students.

Petitt, D.N. & Forbes, C.T. (2019). Values use of undergraduate students in socio-hydrological reasoning: A comparative study. Natural Sciences Education, 48(1), 1-12.

We wish Destini the best of luck in her doctoral work in the Dept. of Geography and Earth Sciences at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte!

First CliMES project publication

The CliMES team is excited to share our first project publication, which appears in the December issue of the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly, a publication of the Green Schools National Network. In this article, we provide an overview of the CliMES project, as well as a primer on the findings from the literature review in which we are currently engaged focused on K-16 climate education. This issue, entitled Climate Literacy: Educating with the Future in Mind, focuses on climate education and includes contributions from an array of esteemed science education colleagues, including some of our CliMES project advisory board members. We very much appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this important issue and the broader conversation about climate education in K-12 classrooms.

Bhattacharya, D., Carroll-Steward, K., Sutter, A., Chandler, M., & Forbes, C.T. (2018). Climate literacy: Insights from research on K-16 climate education. Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly, V(4), 26-35.

Diane Lally 2019 NAGT Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awardee

Congrats to Diane Lally, doctoral student with the WELL project, for being selected by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) for a 2019 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. This award recognizes outstanding teaching assistants in geoscience education. Diane is currently a 4th-year doctoral student who, for the past 3 years, has served as a graduate teaching assistant for the SCIL 109: Water in Society course. Her research focuses on scientific modeling and systems thinking in undergraduate geoscience courses, including work in the 109 course develop and study the impact of course modules in which students use data-driven, computer-based water models to investigate water-related phenomena (e.g., groundwater, regional water balance, etc.).