Check out the newest Forbes Group publication in the Journal of Geoscience Education, led by masters student Holly White, which reports findings from a study of 7th-grade students use of the Hydrogeology Challenge to investigate groundwater. The study focuses on how students map elements of the HGC onto real-world, groundwater-related phenomena to reason about groundwater flow in the context of a groundwater contamination scenario. This research, undertaken as part of the WELS2 project, was made possible by a partnership with the Groundwater Foundation and teachers participating in a multi-year teacher professional development program focused on water education.
Congratulations to Holly White for successfully defending her thesis, entitled, “GROUNDWATER EDUCATION: AN INVESTIGATION OF STUDENTS’ USE OF A GROUNDWATER MODELING TOOL”. For the past two years, Holly has worked as a graduate assistant as part of the Forbes Group, conducting research on K-12 and undergraduate students’ use of the Hydrogeology Challenge to reason about groundwater, as well as serving as a teaching assistant for the SCIL 109 course. Prior to that, Holly was a student in the 109 course and UCARE undergraduate researcher with the E2FEW project. It has been a pleasure to work with Holly as both project PI and her advisor. Molly’s thesis study was conducted in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Science in UNL School of Natural Resources. Her committee members included Drs. Dave Gosselin and Trenton Franz.
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.
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.
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,
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!
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.
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.
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.