Forbes Group 2018

It was a big summer of transition in the Forbes team, with team members moving on to next steps and new team members coming on board.  Congrats to newly-minted Ph.D. Tina Vo who will begin a tenure-track position at UNLV as an Assistant Professor of Science Education in August.  Dante Cisterna, UnICORN project postdoc, is also starting a new position at ETS in July.  Destini Petitt completed her M.S. in the School of Natural Resources and will begin doctoral studies in the Dept. of Geography and Earth Sciences at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.  Ashley (McKenzie) Sutter (formerly Peterson), will leave us for a second time to return to her position with USDA.  And, finally, Florian Böschl, doctoral student at the University of Leipzig in Germany, will return home after a summer in Lincoln.  We wish them all the best!

Joining the team are two new SNR doctoral students, Amie Sommers and Kim Carroll-Steward, undergraduate research assistant Brooke Mott, and incoming postdoctoral researcher Ranu Roy, who recently completed her Ph.D. at Indiana University.  They join a fantastic continuing group of team members, including SNR doctoral student Diane Lally, postdoc Devarati Bhattacharya, and undergraduate research assistants Holly White, Isabella Catalano, and Nancy Theodor.

WELS2 summer 2018 workshop

In June, the WELS2 project team held our second 1-week workshop for more than 45 Nebraska middle- and high school science teachers from over a dozen school districts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Innovation Campus.  Building on the previous summer workshop, teachers learned groundwater quality sampling techniques, used a computer-based, data-driven water balance model to explore regional water challenges, toured the Nebraska Water Sciences Laboratory, and developed curricular resources to use these tools in their own classrooms.  Teachers also had the opportunity to participate in the workshop as part of a UNL graduate course – SCIL 800 Experiential Learning in Food, Energy, & Water II.  A special thanks goes out to colleagues Trenton Franz, Dan Snow, and Dana Divine for working with teachers to utilize extraordinary UNL resources and tools, as well as to Tina Vo and Kate Gibson for helping plan and coordinate the workshop.  We greatly appreciate funding from the USDA-NIFA PD-STEP program and Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grant program through the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, both of which have made this program possible. 

Research published on undergraduate students’ socio-scientific reasoning about wildlife

Congrats to Ashley (McKenzie) Sutter for publication of her thesis work in the International Journal of Science Education.  Utilizing value belief norm (VBN) theory and construal level theory (CLT), the study explores how undergraduate students reason and make decisions about prairie dog conversation issues.  The research, which was conducted in the SCIL 101 course (Science and Decision-Making for a Complex World), is grounded in the use of structured-decision making as a teaching and learning strategy in large enrollment, undergraduate STEM courses.  Findings from the study illustrate the interrelationships between students’ values, problemmatization of the issue, and science-informed decision-making.  

Sutter, A.M., Dauer, J.M., & Forbes, C.T. (2018). Construal level and value-belief norm theories: Implications for undergraduate decision-making on a prairie dog socio-scientific issue. In International Journal of Science Education, 40(9), 1058-1075.

2018 NC-FEW International Invited Conference

Over the past two years, I have been working with an amazing group of colleagues to cultivate and establish a transdisciplinary community of educators and education researchers who focus on the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus.  In May, we were fortunate enough to be able to take the next major step forward in this endeavor.  Through funding through the USDA-NIFA Higher Education Challenge grant program, APLU’s Network of STEM Education Centers Research Action Cluster grant program,  the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Virginia Tech, we were able to hold an invited conference with nearly 50 participants from over 40 U.S. and international institutions.  The conference –  Innovating Teaching and Learning in the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus: Toward a National Collaborative for Food, Energy, & Water Systems Education (NC-FEW) – was held May 22-23 in the Washington, D.C. metro area at the Virginia Tech Executive Briefing Center. Conference participants had opportunities to share their research and engage with colleagues from a diverse array of disciplinary backgrounds (education, STEM disciplines, agriculture, natural resources) to articulate and shape discourse around a systemic approach to FEW-Nexus education and education research. We benefited tremendously from insights of invited speakers, including INFEWS program officers Rachel Melnick (USDA-NIFA) and Tom Torgersen (NSF), Kacy Redd (APLU/NSEC), and Jeff Weld (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy).  A special thanks to Co-PIs and conference planning committee members Hannah Scherer, Hui-Hui Wang, Nicole Sintov, and Kelly Millenbah for helping plan and facilitate the conference, as well as staff from the UNL Center for Science, Math, and Computer Education (CSMCE).  We look forward to next steps advancing the goals and priorities of this developing network.

Forbes Group presentations @ AERA, NARST, and NSTA, 2018

The Forbes team attended the 2018 annual meetings of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), held March 10-13 in Atlanta, GA, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), held March 15-18 in Atlanta, GA, and the American Educational Research Association (AERA), held in New York City.  We had the opportunity to present  an array of findings from the WELL, MoHSES, UnICORN projects.

Bhattacharya, D., Forbes, C.T., Ingram, E., Hawley, L., Stevens, J. & Cisterna, D. (2018, March).  Developing 3rd-grade students’ understanding of inheritance using a model-based curriculum. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Atlanta, GA.

Bhattacharya, D., Forbes, C.T., Ingram, E., Hawley, L., Stevens, J. & Cisterna, D. (2018, March).  Supporting scientific modeling practices in elementary science instruction about inheritance. Poster presented at annual meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Atlanta, GA.

Bhattacharya, D., Ingram, E., Forbes, C., Cisterna, D. (2018, March). Using agriculture as a context for teaching genetics in elementary classrooms: Insights from UnICORN (Understanding Inheritance in CORN). Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Science Teachers Association (NARST/NSTA sponsored session), Atlanta, GA.

Böschl, F., Vo, T., Forbes, C.T., Lange-Schubert, K., (2018, March). Development of an empirically grounded learning performance framework for elementary students’ modeling competency of water. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Atlanta, GA.

Cisterna, D., Bhattacharya, D., Vo, T., Zangori, L., & Forbes, C.T., (2018, March). Examining multiple programs to supporting K-12 teachers’ instruction about water using scientific models. Submitted to the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST), 2018 Annual International Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Lally, D., Dauer, J.M., Forbes, C.T., (2018, March). Helping undergraduate students’ CREATE understanding of scientific and popular media articles about contemporary water issues. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Atlanta, GA.

Lally, D., Forbes, C.T., (2018, March). Water in society: Making water issues matter to undergraduate students. Session presented at the annual meeting of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), Atlanta, GA.  

Petitt, D., Lally, D., Forbes, C.T., Brozovic, N., & Franz, T. (2018, March). Undergraduate students’ learning and reasoning about socio-hydrological issues. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Atlanta, GA.

Vo, T., Bhattacharya, D., Baumfalk, B., Zangori, L., Welch, G., Forbes, C., (2018, April). Examining the impact of a modeling enhanced water unit on 3rd grade students’ scientific explanations. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), New York City, NY.

Vo, T., Forbes, C.T., (2018, March). A mixed methods comparison of elementary students’ model based explanations about water. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Atlanta, GA.

2017 Nebraska K-12 Science Education Summit

For the second consecutive year, Sara Cooper, Science Education Director at the Nebraska Department of Education, and I had the distinct pleasure of welcoming science teachers, administrators, university faculty, and policymakers from around the state at the Nebraska K-12 Science Education Summit.  This year’s event featured a workshop on the Next Generation Science Standards, invited talks by Dr. Phil Bell, Professor and Shauna C. Larson Chair in Learning Sciences at the University of Washington, and Dr. Christine Cutucache, Associate Professor and Haddix Community Chair of Science at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, as well as nearly 40 presentations of innovative science education curricula, resources, and other programs.  Co-sponsored the Nebraska Department of Education, IANR Science Literacy, NebraskaSCIENCE, the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Computer Education, Nebraska 4-H, and the Nebraska Collaborative for Food, Energy, & Water Education, the 2017 Summit drew over 250 participants  and showcased the recent adoption of Nebraska’s new state science standards.  Be sure to check out media coverage from UNL and ABC Channel 8 KLKN-TV.


Invited talk at the U. of Maryland Center for Science and Technology (CSTE)

In November, I was invited to visit the Center for Science and Technology (CSTE) at the University of Maryland. During my visit, I met with CSTE-affiliated faculty and graduate students and gave a Distinguished Lecture. My talk, entitled, “Scientific Modeling for K-16 Earth Systems Education: Theoretical Perspectives and Empirical Insights”, focused on empirical and theoretical work associated with the WELL, MoHSES, and CliMES projects.  This was a wonderfully engaging experience – many thanks to Randy McGinnis and Diane Kettelhut for the invitation!

Research published on elementary students’ reasoning about food systems

Congrats to Molly Brandt for publication of her thesis work in the Journal of Agricultural Education.  This study explored the use of Evidence-Centered Design to develop, validate, and test assessment items aligned with standards for student learning focused on the integration of STEM and agriculture.  The study provides important insights into upper elementary (grades 3-5) students’ reasoning about interdisciplinary STEM concepts and contributes to efforts to design an assessment system designed around these standards that can provide an essential tool for program evaluation.

Brandt, M., Forbes, C.T., & Keshwani, J. (2017). Exploring elementary students’ scientific knowledge of agriculture using Evidence-Centered Design. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(3), 134-149.

Kicking off CliMES collaborative work with LPS teachers

At the end of September, our CliMES team came together with a group of high school teachers from our district partner – Lincoln Public Schools – to begin collaborating on development of the CliMES curriculum module.  We are working to develop a 6-week module designed around EzGCM for LPS’ 9th-grade Geoscience course.  The proposed module will be aligned with national, state, and district standards, with a particular emphasis on HS-ESS3-5:

Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.

We’re looking forward to continuing these discussions and working with our collaborating teachers as we move forward with development of the curriculum module, planned for pilot implementation in spring, 2018.


Research published on student metacognition in undergraduate biology

Congrats to Dr. Jaime Sabel for publication of dissertation work in CBE–Life Sciences Education.  This study explored the used of reflective scaffolds and metacognitive tools to support and enhance undergraduate students’ learning in the context of an introductory undergraduate course for non-majors.  Study findings provide insight into how students use these tools, how they can be integrated into the design of course activities, and ways in which they productively impact students’ life science learning.

Sabel, J., Dauer, J., & Forbes, C.T. (2017).  Introductory biology students’ use of enhanced answer keys and reflection questions to engage in metacognition and enhance understandingCBE–Life Sciences Education, 16(3), 2-12.