QS in Action

September 14th, 2012 by QS in Science team Categories: Updates No Responses

QS Findings – Responding to the QS in Science Report

Nancy Pelaez, Associate Professor in Biological Sciences at Purdue University (USA) reminds us that our project findings are consistent—and even typical—of issues faced overseas. In order to move forward, a consideration of the broader issues of teaching and learning, as well as change/reform efforts, could save us spinning our wheels. Read more in the 2012 Change article by John Tagg (co-author of the seminal 1995 article from Teaching to Learning).

Quoting Max Planck, “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die…”

Tagg suggests that engaging academics in teaching and learning can be painful, but need not be. He offers some theories of change, common pitfalls of leaders and administrations in trying to “manage” change in higher education, and concludes with some practical approaches for leading teaching and learning reform efforts.

We appreciate all the QS in Science project report feedback and invite you to  comment here.

QS in Action – Featuring the Academic Numeracy Group

The QS in Science project found an overall “lack of knowledge and adaption of QS educational resources” (page 15) QS in Science project report. We have found a range of efforts to understand the challenges to students learning of QS in Australia.

While maths can be viewed as enabling learning in science and medicine, in reality we see students are bringing their maths anxiety with them to their studies – maths as a transferable anxiety rather than a transferable skill. 

Sound familiar? The Academic Numeracy group—consisting of Roseanne Quinnell at the University of Sydney and from UNSW Rebecca LeBard and Rachel Thompson—has been exploring the QS issue for more than 10 years. Their research uses theoretical frameworks (e.g. Meyer and Land’s Thresholds Concept framework and Perkins’ framework of triadic thinking dispositions) to understand why students have such trouble transferring their numeracy skills from math to their studies in life sciences. More information can be found in a recent article. They have a number of interventions to assist student learning and a freely available online module. The group are now working to design an online diagnostic to more explicitly address dysfunctional stances that students adopt when asked to manipulate their quantitative data. A group worth watching and supporting!

QS across Curricula – Featuring JMU’s holistic QS evaluation

The QS in Science project found a “lack of evaluation and evidencing of QS curricular learning outcomes” in Australia (page 15) QS in Science project report. Our benchmarking case studies has on-going, comprehensive evaluation process.

The Biology Department at James Madison University (JMU) assesses essential skills in graduating biology majors by using a multiple choice exam called the Natural World-9 (NW-9) consisting of measures of Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning. More than a performance indicator to gather data for quality assurance processes, JMU has established an innovative and effective approach to engage academics in using the data to inform on-going curricular reforms. Read more in the Journal of College Science Teaching article.

While the JMU approach produces reliable performance data specific to science learning outcomes, it more importantly closes the assessment loop by allowing faculty to participate in the assessment process and meaningfully reflect on student assessment results. 

Sounds amazing! You can hear more in December 2012. The QS in Science project, in collaboration with the Australian Biology (VIBE) and Biomedical Science (CUBEnet) Networks, is hosting a two-day event featuring Dr. Kyle Seifert from JMU.

QS Events – Involving yourself with the QS in Science projects

The QS in Science project has strived to actively engage folks throughout the last two years. As the project officially wraps up, we have a series of activities to further involve you and your colleagues.

Face-to-face events

ACSME Conference (26-28 September, 2012): The QS in Science team is presenting two posters and giving one talk at the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education in Sydney.

QS in Science/VIBE/CUBEnet Event (10-11 December, 2012): Planning is well under way for a two day event in Sydney, Australia featuring two overseas speakers addressing QS in Science.  As indicated, one speaker will discuss program level evaluation of graduates QS. The other speaker will share and discuss free educational resources – online modules specifically designed to enhance the QS of life sciences students in introductory biology units. We’ll circulate further information soon. In the meantime, save the dates!

The QS in Science team will be in North America in October, more details on our events page.

Scholarly activities

Call for articles: January 2013 is the deadline for the QS in Science Special Edition of iJMEST, a highly rated, prestigious journal in science and mathematics higher education. Read more on our Get Involved page.

Call for reviewers: Give back to the community and learn about the latest QS research and innovations by signing up to act as a reviewer for the QS in Science Special Edition.

student performing calculation

QS Project – Getting close

The QS in Science project is in the home stretch, drawing to an end this year. We’ll be sharing our final Updates filled with project findings, worthwhile research in the area of QS, featured QS practices and curricular approaches, and project events.

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