Friday, June 19, 2009

Links to Further Information

These are links that relate to my teaching and staff position.

Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College - http://www.goshen.edu/merrylea/

My Staff page at Merry Lea ELC of Goshen College - http://www.goshen.edu/merrylea/about/zinn.php

Description of the course I am currently teaching in the MAEE program - http://www.goshen.edu/merrylea/graduate/courses.php

Maple Scholars research students I have supervised - http://www.goshen.edu/merrylea/research2/maple.php

My Bird Banding Research Program - http://www.goshen.edu/merrylea/research/maps/MAPS.html

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Philosophy of Teaching

Philosophy of Teaching
Lisa Zinn

My philosophy of teaching is that the learner is the focus, and in the classroom I am the facilitator of student learning. I engage my students in the process of active learning, and push them beyond the misconception that science is simply arduous content memorization. Students in my classroom learn not just the facts that make up the foundation of science, but also how to combine these facts into broader concepts that they can apply to their own lives, where they answer their own questions from within a scientific framework. Teaching science through inquiry allows students to use their natural curiosity to solve problems, while simultaneously learning content they need to master to form their own ideas about the natural world. My role in this process is to provide expertise and assistance as the students work through the process of observing, asking questions, designing experiments, collecting data, and communicating their results with others.

Because each student learns best through a combination of different learning styles, I evaluate and teach students using a range of methods. I believe that learning is best when it is active and engaging, and structure my classroom to allow for a large number of hands-on and interactive learning experiences. I believe in empowering students and giving them a voice, so my classes focus on interactive dialogue. At the same time, I am mindful of learners who are most receptive to discourse, reading, and writing as well. In addition to activities, lab work, and experiments that naturally lead to hands-on learning, I also design my lectures to engage students in dialogue, and the material is integrated into this process. Teaching is a process of constantly adapting to the needs of the students. I employ several methods of formative assessment during a course to ensure that I can address misconceptions early, and find different ways to meet my course objectives if student learning is hindered in any way.

I strive to foster a love of learning in my students so they will become life-long learners. I believe the best way to do this is to let students see my interest and passion for both science and learning, as this gives them freedom to fully engage and get excited about learning. Students who engage emotionally with the content are far more likely to take responsibility for their own learning and to retain learning long-term. Modeling excitement and curiosity in learning is critical to fostering those characteristics in students.

Considering the rate at which scientific knowledge increases everyday, teaching students the skills to investigate our growing body of scientific information on their own is crucial to the development of a scientifically literate society. As a teacher, it is my goal to equip students with critical thinking and problem solving skills that will foster a process of life-long learning, and contribute to a society where science can be called upon by all citizens to question and evaluate the natural world around them.

Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae

Elizabeth R. Zinn
Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College
P.O. Box 263
Wolf Lake, IN 46796
LisaRZ@goshen.edu

EDUCATION

Ed.D. in Science - Ball State University, Muncie, IN.
Doctoral Candidate, ABD. Expected matriculation: May 2011.
Major: Natural Resources and Environmental Management; Cognate: Biology
Dissertation: The efficiency of constructed wetlands for the removal of the antimicrobial agent Triclosan
Advisor: Dr. Jarmila Popovicova

M.En. Environmental Science - Miami University, Oxford, OH.
December 2002
Concentration: Conservation Biology
Thesis: Avian response to lakeshore cottage development in northwest lower Michigan
Advisor: Dr. Robert Blair

Bachelor of Arts - Houghton College, Houghton, NY.
May 1992
Major: Biology with Environmental Concentration

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Environmental Science Educator/Faculty, Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College. Goshen, IN. July 2003 to Present.

Teacher, High School Chemistry and Earth Science, Southern Tier Christian Academy. Jamestown, NY. 2002/2003.

High School Program Director, Au Sable Institute of Environmental Science. Mancelona, Michigan. 2001/2002.

Director of Environmental Education, State YMCA of Michigan. Central Lake, Michigan. 2000/2001.

Program Assistant, Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies. Mancelona, MI. 1994-1998.

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

Graduate Level Teaching Experience

ENED 550 Research Materials and Methods for Environmental Education
Goshen College
July-Sept, 2008, 2009, 2010.
• Developed entire course curriculum for this graduate class including labs
• Taught all lectures and labs
• Taught students skills for using and maintaining professional-grade environmental monitoring equipment
• Introduced foundational statistical concepts and methods and taught students to do basic data analysis using computer software
• Explained inquiry teaching methods through lecture and demonstration inquiry labs, and evaluated student-developed inquiry curricular materials
• Advised students in designing and conducting a small-scale research project and evaluated these projects

ENED 510: Natural History of the Southern Great Lakes Region
Goshen College
July-Sept, 2010
• Designed all curriculum and materials for this graduate course in natural history.=
• Lectured on ecosystems, and biotic and abiotic foundations
• Conducted student-centered ecosystem investigations in which students selected species they wished to identify and then taught their classmates
• Evaluated student conceptual learning through the use of concept maps for each ecosystem covered
• Integrated technology by having each student set up a blog in which they kept a record of the details of the species they investigated during their field work
• Led class discussion on readings from classic natural history writers


ENED 580: Practicum in Environmental Education
Goshen College
Sept-Nov, 2009; Feb-May 2010
• Organized student teaching schedules for their environmental education teaching practicum
• Advised students on the development of curricular materials they would use for EE programs
• Conducted weekly discussions about student teaching experiences
• Taught sessions on instruction strategies and management skills for EE non-formal settings
• Observed and evaluated student teaching
• Reviewed evaluations with students and provided feedback and future goals for their teaching
• Developed plans for student participation in program preparation and program site maintenance
• Led discussions and evaluated blog responses about assigned readings

Graduate Advisor
Goshen College
July 2008-present
• Served as primary advisor to graduate student projects in their Master of Arts in Environmental Education program
• Helped student develop and conduct surveys, conduct fieldwork, and analyze collected data
• Advised students on research in the following areas:
o Conducting surveys on the attitudes and behaviors of farmers market shoppers
o Analyzing Field sparrow and Yellow Warbler populations from bird banding data
o Evaluating the effectiveness of citizen science for wetland monitoring
o Evaluating the effect of oak savannah restoration on woodpecker populations
o Assessing the long-term student learning from a one-day wetland investigation experience

BIOL 520: Instrumentation for Biological Science
Goshen College
July 2005, 2006, 2007
• Introduced high school science teachers to a wide range of professional grade environmental monitoring equipment, and led hands-on learning experiences with this equipment
• Led discussion on the use of environmental monitoring equipment in the high school classroom
• Evaluated student-developed lesson plans that incorporated equipment into their own classroom settings

Undergraduate Teaching Experience

Maple Scholars Student Research Advisor
Goshen College
Summer 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
• Designed a range of summer research projects for undergraduate students which included:
o Investigating bird community composition and the surrounding ecological communities
o Monitoring avian productivity and survivorship through bird banding research
o Evaluating the efficiency of constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment
• Supervised students in data collection and analysis
• Assisted students in the preparation and presentation of their work to a weekly group of peer researchers

Environmental Ethics
Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies
January 2008, January 1995 and 1996
• Developed and taught a portion of the lectures focusing on issues surrounding biodiversity and invasive species

Interdisciplinary Science
Miami University, Western College Program
August - December 1999, January – May 2000
• Developed the content and taught a portion of the lectures focusing on ecological foundations for sustainable practices
• Developed the content and led one of the lab sections; lab topics focused on current environmental issues
• Evaluated and graded student lab work

Introduction to Biology
Houghton College
1990, 1991, 1992
• Taught lab sections for a non-major biology course
• Developed and graded weekly lab quizzes
• Graded student lab reports
• Prepared and set up lab experiments

High School Teaching Experience

Chemistry and Earth Science
STCA Academy
Falconer, NY
2003-2004
• Taught 11th grade Chemistry and 9th and 10th grade Earth Science classes
• Selected all teaching materials and lab experiments
• Prepared teaching demonstrations and lab exercises
• Developed assessment tools for all classes
• Conducted New York State Regents exam in Earth Science

Elementary and Informal Teaching Experiences

Environmental Education Teacher
Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College
Goshen, IN
2003-Present
• As part of the Environmental Education team, led day-long Environmental and Natural History programs for visiting K-12 school groups for 7,000 students annually
• Developed and taught EE programs for preschool, elementary, middle school, high school, college and adult groups
• Led programs in Ornithology, Natural History, Water Quality, Wetland Investigation, Biodiversity, Historic farming, Maple Syrup making, Forest Investigation, Prairie Studies, Orienteering, Geocaching and others
• Trained and supervised volunteers, interns, and graduate students in teaching EE programs
• Worked as part of the education team to develop new programs, and to evaluate and improve existing programs
• Planned and delivered public workshops for adults and families in different areas of Natural History

PAPERS

Effects of surrounding landscape features on avian populations.
Indiana Academy of Science Proceedings. Zinn, L., and Weber, D., October 2005

The response of avian populations to lakeshore cottage development in North West Lower Michigan. Master’s Thesis. Miami University, Oxford, OH. July 2002.

Environmental Education Curriculum for Christian Camps. Au Sable Institute Publication. 1998.

PRESENTATIONS

The efficiency of constructed wetlands for the removal of the antimicrobial agent Triclosan. Indiana Academy of Science, Kokamo, IN. March, 2010.

Environmental Education. Indiana Land Trust Alliance. Indianapolis, IN. March, 2009.

Spring Forest Ephemerals. Presented to Whitley County Garden Club. May, 2009.

Green and Sustainable building design, LEED Platinum Certification. Sustainability Summit for Indiana Colleges and Universities, Ball State University, Muncie, IN. February, 2008.

The affects of Lakeshore cottage development on bird populations. Presented to Three Lakes Association of Northern Michigan. July, 2001.

Avian ecology in North West Lower Michigan. Presented to Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies. July, 2001.

HONORS, AWARDS, FELLOWSHIPS AND SCHOLARSHIPS

Indiana Academy of Science Research Grant
J. F. New Research Grant
Indiana Academy of Science Travel Grant
Bridging the Gap Research Assistantship
Western College Teaching Assistantship

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

Indiana Academy of Science
North American Association of Environmental Education
Environmental Education Association of Indiana
Organization of Biological Field Stations

ACADEMIC SUPPORT EXPERIENCE

Member of planning and design committee for developing a Master of Arts in Environmental Education for Goshen College.

Member of planning and design committee for developing an interdisciplinary fall semester program in Sustainability for Goshen College.

Member of collegiate program committee for advancing collegiate studies at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College.

Participated in Conferences to promote science education at Biological Field Stations such as the National Environmental Observatory Network and the Organization of Biological Field Stations.

CURRENT RESEARCH INTERESTS

Removal of the antibacterial agent Triclosan in Constructed Wetlands used for Wastewater Treatment.
Effectiveness of inquiry methods in environmental education for long-term learning
Effectiveness of Citizen Science for Wetland Monitoring
The effect of wetland restorations on bird community composition
Study of bird productivity and survivorship through bird banding. MAPS program.

SKILLS AND INTERESTS

Website Construction.
• Designed and maintain the current Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center Website.
• Work with campus IT to integrate the site with the Goshen College Website.
• Assist staff and students in creating website content and use of website design software.


Bird Banding and Research
• Licensed Master Bird Bander
• Run two banding stations as part of the national bird population study MAPS (Monitoring Avian Populations and Survivorship)
• Attended two advanced bird banding training sessions conducted by the Institute for Bird populations that focused on aging captured birds
• Spearheaded all research at Merry Lea involving bird including bird inventories, coordinating participation in annual bird census, and local bird population studies
• Trained and supervised college students and volunteers to assist in the bird banding research

Birding
• Organized community team bird watching challenges each spring from March through May
• Led three to four day birding trips for community member to regional birding hotspots
• Taught four day mini-course for adult life-time learner program in beginning birding
• Regularly led public bird hikes for all ages

Monday, June 15, 2009

Photos

Students gather vegetation data inside a deer exclosure to try and determine the impact of deer browsing on prairies.




Students learn about capture/recapture population analysis through bird banding. Here I am teaching a student about how to tell a bird's age by the molt patterns of it's feathers.




Students are running chemical tests on water samples they collected from the local wetland.



Students teach the lesson plans they have developed to the rest of the class. This lesson plan was for a 5th grade science class lesson on soils.



A Stonefly inventory to assess water quality.



I am teaching a Geocaching workshop during a Nature Festival.

Sample Syllabus for EnEd 550

This is the Syllabus I developed for EnEd 550 - Research Materials and Methods for Environmental Education.

EnEd 550 - Research Materials and Methods for Environmental Education

An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature's answer. ~Max Planck

Session 1, 2008/2009
Merry Lea Learning Center
Mon. 1-3pm, Th. 9-10am, F. 8-11am

Instructor – Lisa Zinn
lisarz@goshen.edu, office (260) 635-2487, home (cell) 260-564-4771

Purpose – This course is designed as a survey course to expose you to a wide range to equipment and methods that are used to study natural systems. You will also think about how research can be used as a teaching tool in environmental education.

Learning Objectives – The following are the main learning objectives for this course

A. Students will learn collect data using commonly used ecological sampling methods for biotic and abiotic factors in both terrestrial and aquatic environments.

B. Students will be introduced to population study designs and methods for plants, birds, and some mammals.

C. Students will understand and be able to use hand-held GPS units as well understanding the basic principles of GIS and knowing how it can be applied.

D. Students will be able to conduct water, air and soil sampling with both chemical and digital testing equipment including; HACH water kits, Hydrolab Datasonde, Gastec Air Probes, Lamotte soil kits, and Kestril Weather Meters.

E. Students will be able to use basic equipment for ecological surveys including; Quadrats, Mist Nets, and Live capture animal traps.

F. Students will understand the benefits of using research as a teaching tool and they will have begun to consider ways to incorporate research into an educational setting.

G. Students will learn how to design and implement an effective survey instrument including how to conduct interviews and how to avoid confounding factors like self-selecting populations.

H. Students will be introduced to a range of educational research methods both qualitative and quantitative.

I. Students will learn how to present research results in effective ways, both in text and visual formats.

J. Students will gain experience in developing lesson plans that incorporate scientific research and data collection into the learning experience.

K. Students will evaluate the benefits of teaching through inquiry and how this can be done for a variety of teaching settings and age groups.


Course Format – The Course will be made up of the following components

A. Lecture – Students will be introduced to new concepts in class lecture
B. Field Work – Students will be introduced a wide range of testing equipment and methodology for ecosystem studies.
C. Class computer lab – Students will analyze their fieldwork data during a supervised lab time and learn how to present the results in ways that would be meaning full for students.
D. Lesson Plans – Each week students will be required to write up a lesson plan that includes some of the equipment and sampling methods studied in that week’s lab session.
E. Reading and Class discussion: Students will be assigned a series of readings from scientific papers. These studies will then be evaluated and discussed during class to help students to critically evaluate the study methods and conclusions.
F. Research Project: Students will be required to complete an small research project including data collection and analysis.


Texts

Brower, J., Zar, J., & von Ende, C (1998). Field and Laboratory Methods for General Ecology. Boston, MA: WCB McGraw-Hill.

Levine, D., & Stephan, D. (2005). Even you can learn Statistics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Optional

Johnson, B., & Christensen, L. (2008). Educational research, third edition.Sage Publications: Los Angeles.


Grading

Grading will be done with a letter grade system including pluses and minuses.

Class participation (5%)
Discussion Leading (15%)
Lesson Plans (30%)
Data Summaries (15%)
Research Project (35% total, 15% for proposal and 20% for final presentation)

Policies

Late Assignments – Late assignments will not be accepted. Assignments are due at the beginning of the class period for the data assigned unless otherwise stated.

Class Attendance – Full class attendance is expected. More than one absence will be reflected in the class participation grade.

Paper format – It is expected that any outside material be fully cited in any work that is handed in. Written work and citations should follow APA guidelines. An APA manual is available in the library for reference.



Course Schedule

7/10 – Introduction to the Course
Syllabus review
Ecological Sampling

7/11 – Lab – Spatial Positioning
Due: Reading, pg 1-6, 29-35 GE


7/14 – Water Quality Testing pt. 1
Due: Reading 57-61 GE


7/17 – Discussion 1
Lecture: inquiry learning
Due: Reading, paper 1

7/18 – Lab: Water Quality Testing pt. 2
Due: Spatial Positioning Lesson Plan
Reading 115-123 GE

7/21 – Discussion 2
Lecture: Diversity and Species Richness
Set Sherman traps
Due: Reading, paper 2
Reading 177-186 GE

**7/22 - Bird Banding
Check traps and mark rodents

**7/23 – Bird Banding
Check traps and mark rodents

7/24 – Check traps and mark rodents
Due: Diversity Exercise

7/25 – Lab: Population Studies
Capture/Recapture Analysis
Survivorship Analysis
Project Discussion
Due: Water Quality Lesson Plan
Reading 124-136 GE

7/28 – No Class

7/31 – Discussion 3
Lecture: Introduction to Statistics
Due: Capture Recapture Exercise
Reading paper 3
Reading 1-14 L+S

8/1 – Lab: Soil Testing
Due: Population Lesson Plan
Reading 46-53 GE

8/4 – Discussion 4
Lecture: Charts and Graphs
Due: Reading paper 4
Reading 17-46 L+S

8/7 – No Class – Project Wet Workshop



8/8 – Lecture: T-tests and Regression
Lab: Community Structure
Due: Soils Lesson Plan
Reading: 172-176 GE
Project Proposal

8/11 – Discussion 5
Lecture: ANOVA
Due: Reading paper 5
Reading 125-142, 155-166
Chart and Graph Exercise

8/14 – Integrative Session

8/15 – Lab: Forest Dynamics
Due: Community Structure Lesson Plan
ANOVA Exercise
Reading 188-192 GE

8/18 – Discussion 6
Lecture: Dominance and Importance
Due: Reading paper 6

8/21 – No Class

8/22 - Lab: Qualitative Sampling - Interviews
Survey Development
Due: Forest Dynamics Lesson Plan
Dominance and Importance Exercise
Reading TBA

8/25 – Lecture: Educational Research
Qualitative Sampling Analysis
Survey Development Activity
Due: Reading TBA

8/28 – Integrative Session

8/29 – Lesson Plan Trials
Due: Learning Survey


**9/26 – Project Presentations


Assignment Descriptions

Lesson Plans

Over the course of the class you will develop a total of seven lesson plans that will incorporate the research elements discussed in class. For each lesson you should pick one of the following age groups for the focus of your activity. You should do no more than three lesson plans for any one of the age groups. Make sure to identify on your lesson plan the target age group for your lesson.

Age Groups: Lower Elementary (pre K- second grade), 3rd and 4th grade, Middle School, High School, College, Adult.

The lesson should include some type of data collection and some way that data will be presented or summarized. It should also use at least one of the techniques or pieces of equipment introduced in the lab session.

1. Title
2. Goals: The General Goal or Goals of the lesson
3. Objectives: What do you hope the students will gain from participating in the activity
4. Target Age group
5. Background information (a paragraph or two giving important background information or the reason for the lesson)
6. Estimated time to complete the lesson
7. Materials: List materials that would be required for the activity
8. Major skills/concepts: List the major concepts and skills that your lesson will be using or teaching
9. Activity Description: This can be in narrative form or in a step by step procedural form
10. Vocabulary: List terms that may be new for the students and define them

Other elements can be included if you wish. Sample lesson plans and templates are available on-line if you would like to see examples.


Readings/Discussion Leading

There will be six readings from scientific papers during the class. These papers will then be discussed as a group in class. Each student will lead one of these discussion times. The focus of the discussion will be to evaluate the study design, methods, graphs, and conclusions of the paper. The first discussion will be professor led so students can see an example of a paper discussion.

Statistics Exercises

There will be five exercises based on the statistical methods discussed in the class. Details on these exercises will be provided at the time of the lecture.

Project Proposal – Due 8/8

The major project for this course is a research project. It may be any kind of research subject but it must include some data collection. The Proposal should include a problem statement laying out the purpose of this study and a literature review section with at least 12 sources. It should also include a materials and methods section describing the proposed data collection method and methods that will be used for data collection.

Final Project – Due 9/26

The final project will include a written paper and a presentation. The paper should include the information from the proposal and then in addition an abstract, results, discussion, and conclusion sections. Students should prepare a 20 min presentation of their project to give to student and faculty.

Video Clip - Forest Data Analysis with EnEd 550 class

This is a video clip of a graduate class learning to do an analysis of forest species and DBH data. One student is running the analysis on the computer and we work through it together as a class.

video

Reflections on my teaching in the Video Clip: Viewing this clip was extremely helpful for analyzing my teaching. I would like to video many other parts of my teaching because this is such a small sample. Maybe I will try and video a few lectures and discussions. My first thought (and you can catch a comment about this at the beginning of the clip) was that this was not a good lesson to be video taping but it was the only class I would have a chance to take the video on so I went ahead with it. In retrospect, I am glad that I did. This allowed me to evaluate the kind of interactions I have with students in this type of exercise. I was glad to see that I was asking questions that asked them to evaluate what we were doing and why. I have been wondering if there would be a way to do this kind of exercise with it being more student directed. It might be possible to have them research how to do forest dynamics data analysis on their own first, but in a survey class like this I feel I just don't have time for that kind of process.

One thing I liked about this class activity is that it addressed multiple learning objectives. They were learning how to better use Excel, how to manipulate a dataset, and how to take tree diameter data and find meaningful conclusions about the forest. Previously I had been out in the field with these students and we had learned how to collect forest data and they had collected a dataset for their own analysis. They had also read a published article that used these methods for a scientific study and one of the students had lead the class in discussing and critiquing the article. The further assignment for these students was to create an inquiry based lesson plan for a specific age group and audience (their choice) that had the students gathering tree diameter data and using these indices.

I believe that although this exercise was fairly controlled, the entire learning experience did ask students to use higher level reasoning and was a good learning experience given the time constraints of the class.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Reflections on Teaching EnEd 550

These are my comments and reflections after my first time of teaching EnEd 550 Research Materials and Methods for Environmental Education.

Lisa Zinn

Reflections on Teaching


Curriculum Development:
Given the nature of this class, curriculum development might have been the most difficult part of this teaching experience. The course was unique so I was not able to follow any sort of curriculum template or even a textbook for curriculum design or ideas. Several weeks before the class started, I was able to gain some focus by emphasizing the practical aspects of the course and focusing on helping the students learn how to use research tools for educational purposes. I decided to spend each week focusing on a different area of natural history and explore with students how scientists would gather data from these natural systems. I explained that we would not do prescribed labs but rather I would open the “tool box” and show them how to use all the tools. From there I would ask them to develop a lesson plan making use of those tools and data collection methods. I was hoping this would stimulate a higher level of cognitive thinking for the students by asking them to create a new work.
Although, this helped bring focus to the class, I still needed to meet other objectives as well. I needed to do an overview of basic statistics and make them familiar with simple analysis tools. I made a decision to use Excel instead of SPSS or another statistical software program. This taught them what types of statistical analysis that Excel is capable of and also, it is a program that teachers and environmental educators would have access to.
I think both the above decisions helped in the delivery of the class because they allowed me to teach out of my strengths. I am not a statistician but I have worked quite a lot with Excel. Since I have worked in environmental education for 14 years I can offer meaningful critiques on research curriculum design.
Despite this focus, I still had another remaining goal and I found it quite difficult to interweave this into the class. I needed to introduce them to educational research and give them tools that they would use to evaluate educational programs. This is not an area of strength for me and it seemed to be a completely different area of study than the rest of the class. This was one of the areas of weakness in the class design.

Textbook Selection:
I found selecting textbooks to be a very difficult task. Again, because of the uniqueness of this class there was no one textbook that would even come close to the material that I wanted to cover. I settled on a very practical guide to ecological research methods that I hoped would be a good reference piece for the students in the future. I also had them purchase a very simple statistics book that gave tips for using Excel. I decided to not make them purchase the educational research textbook and instead bought several copies for the library for them to share for the few chapters I would use. I am not at all sure that these texts were very useful at all to the students. I provided a lot of additional references in the form of handouts, etc. and it might have been better if I have just put them in the reader. I did give them a collection of articles in the form of the reader that we used for discussion. These articles worked very well as a jumping off point for discussions of good research methods.



Evaluation Methods:
I decided that, given the nature of the class, I would not use tests but rather a series of projects and assignments. This seemed to work fairly well, as it would have been very difficult to design a test for this subject matter. Students were evaluated through their curriculum assignments, a series of data analysis assignments, and leading discussion, and a final research paper. I also gave them a class participation grade. I explained to them at the beginning of the class that this was a way for me to give them credit for the reading and preparation that I expected them to do outside of class. They needed to be prepared for discussions and a class participation grade allowed me to give them credit for that. They also had a large, course-long project. I evaluated this in two parts so that I could ensure that they were moving along on the project in a timely manner. They were also required to present their project in a formal presentation at the end of the course. I am pleased with these evaluation methods and I think it allowed me to give meaningful feedback to them and to evaluate their progress through the course. I think that these assessment methods did allow me to assess weather or not the students were meeting the stated objectives of the course. I did have them also present one of their curriculum activities to the class and I should have also given a grade for this, but I had not put it in the syllabus so I didn’t count it as a grade.

Discussions:
I think this was a very successful element of the class. Over the course of the term the students read a series of articles that we discussed in class. They were articles ranging from ecological sciences to educational research. They often used statistical methods that we were learning in class and provided excellent examples of research designs. The students each led one of these discussions. One of these papers was too difficult for them to get a clear grasp of the material; otherwise, I was pleased with the paper selections and the resulting discussions. This was one area where I successfully combined ecological and educational research in a way that seemed to make sense. It also was a way to help the students learn material without having to present it in lecture format. It was a much for interactive method of learning and it also encouraged student in learning to analyze and critique a published work.

Curriculum Design Assignments:
I think the idea behind the curriculum design was very good but I was a bit disappointed in the curriculum that the students developed. I think it would have helped to spend a bit more time talking about what makes a good curriculum and how research could fit into that. I also think that I might have given a bit too much freedom for these assignments. Perhaps they would have done better if I had dictated the age group and even the research elements for each assignment. This year spend the first few classes on teaching science through inquiry and work on how to write curriculum using the inquiry process. I hope this will enable them to develop lesson plans that use the inquiry process to teach students.

Data Analysis:
I was quite pleased with the lectures and the assignments I developed for them to practice these methods. I tried to select real-life data sets that would provide interesting and meaningful results. The students seem particular pleased with using the bird banding data from right at Merry Lea, since they had participated in that research. It might be good to try and use other Merry Lea datasets when possible.

There were a few technical difficulties that arose. A few of these could have been avoided if I had double-checked the analysis on the classroom computer prior to class time. It is probably better to make sure to do this in the future.

I think I could have used a few more of these assignments throughout the class. They proved quite affective but there were several types of data analysis that we didn’t get to in class.

I was pleased with my choice to use Excel instead of a statistics package. This required learning how to use Excel better myself but I think the students understood the versatility of this spreadsheet software and how it would lend itself for use with k-12 grade students. I was a bit unprepared for the fact that some of the students had never used Excel before. This meant I had to shift gears and provide more detailed instructions for demonstrations and assignments.

Final Project:
I was quite pleased that the students selected a research project that would provide helpful data to Merry Lea concerning the health of their wetlands. I thought the project had mixed results. It did provide them good experience in the process of designing a study, writing a proposal, collecting data, analyzing data, and reporting the results. It also gave them good insight into many of the difficulties that arise with a real research experience. On the other hand, I was disappointed in how little they really seemed to grasp the overall problem they were investigating. Perhaps I need to give them written descriptions of the problem instead of simply verbal explanations. Having them work in groups seemed to work well but I need to find a way to insure that they all participate in all aspects of the project. For example, it seemed that one individual did the data analysis and the other students didn’t learn through that process. I want to encourage them to work collaboratively but I also want to ensure that doing the project helps each students reach the learning objectives for working on the project. Perhaps It would be helpful to talk to the students about the learning objectives for the project. I think at times that they think the end product is the objective, not the learning that takes place while they are in the process of creating the end product. If they better understood this they might be more willing to make sure they all helped with all aspects of the project.

I also should have given a grade for the final presentation part of the project. I only listed one grade for the final paper and presentation together. However, these two are very different and really require two separate grades.

Overall, I think perhaps I should have used a more step by step process for the final project. Perhaps it should be split up into multiple assignments throughout the course of the class.

Teaching Effectiveness:
I thought the design of the curriculum did allow students with different learning styles the opportunity to work within their strengths for at least some of the projects. They were able to use their creativity as well as problem solving skills in this class. In the future I think I might structure their projects a little more carefully to ensure that they are incorporating research concepts into their work. Probably my biggest failing in this class was my preparedness. I should have put even more time into class prep for each day to ensure I was ready for any eventuality. I think I successfully addressed my stated objectives for the class and I think the students gained confidence in researching. I think they also see how research can be used as an educational tool in environmental education.