SCIL | AECN| ENVR | GEOG | NRES | 109 Spring 2021

For the past 4 years, with support from the NSF and now USDA-NIFA, we have developed and offered (annually) a new interdisciplinary, introductory-level undergraduate water course for UNL students – Water in Society (SCIL 109).  The 109 course is highly innovative and touches on many of today’s most pressing water-related challenges in Nebraska and beyond. Now, through through the Big Ten Academic Alliance Online Course Sharing Program and Nebraska Now programs, we are excited to be able to offer an online version of this course to undergraduate students from other institutions and upper-level high school students in spring, 2021.  Through Nebraska Now, current high school students are able to enroll in the course for a significantly reduced tuition rate ($330) and, if they receive a B or better, will be eligible for a $1000 merit-based scholarship to UNL.  Completion of the Water in Society course will also help students meet UNL undergraduate general education requirements (either ACE 4 or 8).  As part of BTTA, undergraduate students at Indiana University, the University of Maryland, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, and Rutgers University-New Brunswick may enroll in this UNL-based course with all associated tuition and fees waived. In spring, 2021, the 109 course will be 100% online and asynchronous, giving students maximum flexibility to complete the course at their own pace from anywhere with support from a fantastic instructional team. 

Please download the 2021 course flyer for more information.

USDA-NIFA funding to support SCIL 109

New funding from a USDA-NIFA C1 Higher Education Challenge grant (grant no. 2020-70003-30928/project accession no. 1021842) will provide continued support for the WELL project, SCIL 109, and our team’s work in undergraduate education. Over the next 3 years, in collaboration with a team from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette led by Emad Habib, we will develop, implement, and evaluate a new undergraduate curriculum module grounded in an innovative, online, data-driven tool – HydroViz – through which undergraduate students use national water datasets to explore, explain, reason, and make decisions about contemporary socio-hydrological challenges in the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus (FEW-Nexus). The pilot-tested, research-based instructional module will then be disseminated to undergraduate instructors nationwide (Year 3) in the form of faculty development workshops, designed around core tenets of effective undergraduate STEM instruction, to support their implementation of these new resources in their own undergraduate courses. The new USDA-NIFA funding reflects the next phase of our ongoing work supporting undergraduate students socio-hydrologic reasoning through the use of data-driven, computer-based water systems modeling tools as a core feature of the SCIL 109 course. Check out the SNR media release about the new project!

CliMES project media and publication

The NSF-funded CliMES project was featured last week on NET, Nebraska’s PBS & NPR Stations. The story provides an overview of the project, how it came about in Nebraska, and how the CliMES curriculum looks in the classrooms we’ve been working in. Many thanks to NET reporter Becca Costello for taking an interest in this project and pursuing a story that reflects perspectives of project teachers and the many stakeholders who have been involved. To learn more about the research-practitioner partnership that has made this project possible, involving UNL, NASA-GISS, and Lincoln Public Schools, please check out Chap. 3 of the recently released edited book, entitled Teaching Climate Change in the United States.

Forbes, C.T., Chandler, M., Blake, J., Bhattacharya, D., Carroll-Steward, K., Johnson, V., DeGrand, T., Mason, W., and Murrow, B. (2020).  Fostering climate literacy with global climate models in secondary science classrooms: Insights from a collaborative partnership.  In J. Henderson & A. Drewes (Eds.), Teaching Climate Change in the United States. Routledge; New York.

2019 publications from German collaboration, modeling in elementary science

Over the past 7 years, I have been incredibly fortunate to collaborate with Prof. Dr. Kim Lange-Schubert, a colleague from Germany, on work related to models and modeling in elementary science classrooms. Springboarding, in part, from our earlier work on the MoHSES project, as well as a CEHS international travel fellowship awarded to former graduate student and now Assistant Professor Tina Vo, this ongoing collaboration yielded two more publications in 2019. The first is a practitioner-focused article in a German publication discussing the importance and role of models and modeling in the early grades. The second is a reporting of some smaller-scale work with students in Germany and articulation/elaboration of our underlying conceptual framework for model-based teaching and learning. We look forward to continuing this collaborative endeavor and important work yet to come.

Forbes, C.T., Lange-Schubert, K., Böschl, F., & Vo, T. (2019). Supporting primary students’ developing modeling competency for water systems.  In A. Upmeier zu Belzen, D. Krüger, & J. van Driel (Eds.), Towards a Competence-based View on Models and Modeling in Science Education (pgs. 257-273). Springer. 

Lange-Schubert, K., Böschl, F., Vo, T., & Forbes, C.T. (2019). Mehr als Matchbox?! Modelle und Modellieren in der Grundschule [More than Matchbox?! Models and modeling in elementary school]. Chemie, 30(171), 33-37.

UnICORN project publications

For the last four years, the UnICORN project has afforded an opportunity to enhance and engage in research on teaching and learning about inheritance in elementary science through curriculum development and professional development for teachers. Through the implementation of a model-based curriculum, early learners in Nebraska have been afforded opportunities to use corn as a model organism to develop understanding of basic concepts of heredity and genetics using corn as a model organism. Two papers were recently published based upon this work which describe students’ understanding of core, NGSS-aligned target concepts and the relative impact of the curriculum on target outcomes in consecutive project years.

Cisterna, D., Forbes, C.T., & Roy, R. (2019).  Model-based teaching and learning about inheritance in 3rd-grade science. In International Journal of Science Education, 41(15), 2177-2199.

Forbes, C.T., Cisterna, D., Bhattacharya, D., & Roy, R. (2019).  Modeling elementary students’ ideas about heredity: A comparison of a curricular intervention. In American Biology Teacher, 81(9), 626-635.

Invited talk, CUAHSI Fall Cyberseminar Series: Emerging Advances in Hydrologic Education

In October, I had the opportunity to give an invited talk as part of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science (CUAHSI) Fall, 2019 Cyberseminar Series: Emerging Advances in Hydrologic Education. This presentation – Teaching and Learning about Socio-Hydrological Systems in an Introductory Undergraduate Water Course – provided an overview of empirical findings from WELL project research in the SCIL 109 course over the past 3 years. The seminar provided a great opportunity to engage with water scientists interested in teaching and learning about water and water systems. Many thanks to Dr. Emad Habib, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, for the invitation, and to attendees for the great questions and discussion.

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!

ESERA 2019

In August, the I was fortunate to attend the 2019 annual meeting of the European Science Educational Research Association (ESERA), held in Bologna, Italy. The conference provided a wonderful opportunity to be part of a PISA-focused session, organized by Jonathan Osborne, to present results of work associated with my Fulbright in Germany. It was also great to see doctoral student Florian Böschl, who works with Prof. Dr. Kim Lange-Schubert at the University of Leipzig, present work from his summer in Nebraska (2018) as part of our ongoing collaborative research on modeling in elementary science classrooms. ESERA was a truly fantastic way to cap off a year of travel and professional work in Germany.

Böschl, F., Lange-Schubert, K., & Forbes, C. T. (2019, August). Investigating scientific modeling practices in primary science: A comparative study of the U.S. and Germany. Paper presented at the 2019 annual meeting of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA) 2019, Bologna, Italy.

Forbes, C.T., Neumann, K., Schipe-Tiska, A. (2019, August). Science teaching and learning: Analysis of PISA data from the United States and Germany.  Paper presented at the 2019 annual meeting of the European Science Education Research Association (ESERA) 2019, Bologna, Italy.

 

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.

Publications on undergraduate geoscience education in the U.S.

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, this 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.

Soltis, N., McNeal, K., Forbes, C.T. & Lally, D. (2019).  The relationship between active learning, course innovation, and teaching Earth systems thinking: A structural equation modeling approach. Geosphere, 15(5), 1703-1721.