ON-SITE VISIT NOVEMBER 8, 2011
Revised Text: April 5, 2012
Developed by Houston Community College in preparation for
reaff...
Houston Community College

2
Houston Community College

There are many people at Houston Community College who contributed to the writing of this QEP
....
4
Houston Community College

Table of Contents
1 Executive Summary.............................................................
Houston Community College

6
Houston Community College

1 Executive Summary
In recognition of its essential role in providing relevant learning opportu...
Houston Community College

2 Background – Our College, City, Students, and Faculty
2.1 Our College District
Houston Commun...
Houston Community College

The need for a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)-trained workforce in Houston
i...
Houston Community College

In 2009-10, HCC awarded a total of 4,946 total degrees and certificates. Other awards included ...
Houston Community College

3.0 HCC INSPIRE – Process and Selection
3.1 Development and Selection of the QEP Topic
The HCC ...
Houston Community College

In Spring 2009, SACS Liaison and Vice Chancellor for Instruction Charles Cook created a new job...
Houston Community College

Name	

Location 			

Fena Garza

Southwest College

Lollie Green

Northeast College

Bill Harmo...
Houston Community College

Director Cantwell and Dr. Cook presented “The Road to SACS Reaffirmation for HCC” to the Board ...
Houston Community College

All HCC leadership groups, including the Chancellor’s Strategic and Operational Teams, the Dean...
Houston Community College

A committee composed of Director Cantwell, Dr. Cook, Dr. Steve Levey (Associate Vice Chancellor...
Houston Community College

Further actions to develop and refine the QEP topic during the Spring and Summer of 2011 includ...
Houston Community College

In 2005, the National Academies issued a report entitled Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Ener...
Houston Community College

The Growing STEM Education Challenge for Community Colleges
While our national need for scienti...
Houston Community College

In addition to district-wide programs, individual colleges have launched initiatives for enhanc...
Houston Community College

Fall 2007

Fall 2008

Fall 2009

Fall 2010

Fall 2011

BIOL-CHEMPHYS
In Person

Enrollment

9,1...
Houston Community College

First year student success courses have successfully been implemented at HCC as a part of the A...
Houston Community College

and eighty-one percent of students rated “seeing how new information applies to real-world situ...
Houston Community College

success and engagement. Through HCC INSPIRE, HCC must prepare its science students for the real...
Houston Community College

4 Review of Literature and Best Practices
4.1 Literature Review
This section reviews the theory...
Houston Community College

Students and teachers are responsible for creating educational environments that enhance achiev...
Houston Community College

Science based guided inquiry refers to actions that expand students’ “knowledge and understandi...
Houston Community College

Notably though, evidence suggests that success increases when students are slowly initiated int...
Houston Community College

As an “accepted and highly recommended instructional procedure,” (Johnson & Johnson, n.d.) cons...
Houston Community College

		

1. Communication between teachers and students

Educators set their classroom tone. When st...
Houston Community College

The categories to be addressed are:
•	 Faculty training and development
•	 Course development a...
Houston Community College

Finally, a last method to mention is a Teacher Certification Program, which is rarely used for ...
Houston Community College

Overall, there are two substantial supports needed for a successful program of instructional de...
4. Continuity of the Program:
•	 4.1. One can reasonably expect a hesitant start to such a program. It may take three to f...
Houston Community College

5 The QEP: HCC INSPIRE Goals, Activities, and Student Learning Outcomes
QEP PURPOSE STATEMENT: ...
Houston Community College

5.1 Goal 1: Ensure science course readiness
HCC INSPIRE will create a science-based first year ...
Houston Community College
QEP Objective:

Target Population:

Student Learning Outcomes:

Objective 1.4:
Improve student
s...
Houston Community College

5.2 Goal 2: Institutionalize real-world, active and collaborative learning in science courses
H...
Qep Report on site visit November 8, 2011
Qep Report on site visit November 8, 2011
Qep Report on site visit November 8, 2011
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Qep Report on site visit November 8, 2011
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Qep Report on site visit November 8, 2011

  1. 1. ON-SITE VISIT NOVEMBER 8, 2011 Revised Text: April 5, 2012 Developed by Houston Community College in preparation for reaffirmation of accreditation by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  2. 2. Houston Community College 2
  3. 3. Houston Community College There are many people at Houston Community College who contributed to the writing of this QEP . Their contributions were invaluable and greatly appreciated. Alan Ainsworth Saler Axel Tineke Berends G. Raymond Brown Judy Cantwell Charles Cook David Diehl Lorah Gough Stephen Levey Martha Oburn Jennifer O’Neil Angela Secrest 3
  4. 4. 4
  5. 5. Houston Community College Table of Contents 1 Executive Summary....................................................................................1 2 Background.................................................................................................3 2.1 Our College District..................................................................................3 2.2 Our City....................................................................................................3 2.3 Our Students............................................................................................4 2.4 Our Faculty...............................................................................................5 3 Process and Selection.................................................................................7 3.1 Development and Selection of the QEP Topic.........................................7 3.2 Rationale for Selecting HCC INSPIRE: Answering Critical Needs.........13 3.3 Developing the QEP and Narrowing the Focus.......................................19 4 Review of Literature and Best Practices...................................................21 4.1 Literature Review...................................................................................21 4.2 Review of Best Practices and Suggestions for Implementation ............26 5 HCC INSPIRE Goals, Activities, and Student Learning Outcomes...........31 5.1 Goal 1: Ensure Science Course Readiness..........................................32 5.2 Goal 2: Institutionalize Real-World, Active and Collaborative Learning in Science Courses.................................................34 5.3 Goal 3: Improved Science Student Engagement...................................46 6 QEP Implementation Timeline...................................................................47 7 Organizational Structure and Resources..................................................53 7.1 Institutional Structure and Organization.................................................53 7.2 Budget....................................................................................................59 8 Assessment of HCC INSPIRE...................................................................63 8.1 Outcome and Process Assessment Strategies......................................63 8.2 QEP Goal Assessments.........................................................................64 9 Appendices................................................................................................67 9.1 HCC INSPIRE Summary Chart..............................................................69 9.2 Definitions...............................................................................................70 9.3 Implementation and Assessment Plan...................................................73 9.4 Bibliography............................................................................................99 5
  6. 6. Houston Community College 6
  7. 7. Houston Community College 1 Executive Summary In recognition of its essential role in providing relevant learning opportunities to the students of a large and diverse community for academic and career advancement, Houston Community College (HCC) has developed a comprehensive Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) with a clear focus on improving student learning, engagement, and success in the sciences. While the US is currently the world’s leader in science and technology, numerous factors indicate a “gathering storm” by which US leadership is presently challenged. There are few fields of study more important than science for our social and economic security. As the current “energy capital” of the world and home to the famed Texas Medical Center, Houston must provide thousands of workers annually dedicated to scientific research, training, and work. HCC’s QEP, HCC INSPIRE (Innovative Science-Program Initiatives to Reform Education) will transform the HCC science student experience by providing real-world, active and collaborative learning opportunities. Such learning has been shown to improve student engagement, knowledge and persistence, as well as encourage critical thinking and higher-level reasoning. Further, such learning will contribute to 21st century learning skills for students as adaptability, teamwork, effective use of technology, and social and personal responsibility. HCC INSPIRE will bring together science faculty to create and assess a series of course-specific active learning modules with student-engaging, real-world themes. Faculty development teams in biology, chemistry, and physics will work with instructional designers to create the modules and college teams will pilot, assess, and scale-up implementation. The modules will be delivered in Eagle Online, the HCC learning management system, and supplemented by a collection of online learning materials in the HCC Library for faculty and student support. The HCC Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence will coordinate appropriate faculty development experiences with college Curriculum Innovation Centers. Faculty will implement a sciencebased student success course at all HCC colleges to improve science student learning and success. Faculty will also sponsor science clubs to promote student engagement. The HCC Office of Institutional Research will assess student learning outcomes (SLOs) as well as program goals and objectives. HCC INSPIRE will be led by Dr. A. Tineke Berends, HCC Northwest Biology Professor, who may be contacted at tineke.berends@hccs.edu . She will be supported by the Vice Chancellor for Instruction Charles Cook (charles.cook@hccs.edu) and the Accreditation Compliance Director Judy Cantwell (judy.cantwell@hccs.edu). 1
  8. 8. Houston Community College 2 Background – Our College, City, Students, and Faculty 2.1 Our College District Houston Community College (HCC) is a two-year, open admission, public institution of higher education offering high-quality, affordable education to prepare individuals for life and work in a global and technological society. As a singularly accredited institution comprised of six colleges, HCC offers associate degrees (AA, AS, AAT) that transfer to four-year colleges and universities across the state and nation, and associate degrees (AAS), certificate programs, and continuing education in more than 70 fields of work. HCC has the largest adult basic education and English-as-a-second language programs, transfers more graduates to the university of their choice, and places more students in career employment than any other community college in Texas. Since its opening in 1971, HCC has grown into one of the largest community colleges in the nation with over 74,000 students enrolled each semester. More than 1.8 million students have improved their lives through education and training obtained from HCC. Community College Week recently ranked HCC first in Texas and fifth in the nation for associate degrees conferred in 2010-2011. HCC’s Board of Trustees, HCC’s official governing body, is composed of nine members who are elected from single-member districts across a taxing district that includes the Houston, Alief, North Forest, and Stafford school districts and the city of Missouri City. The broader service area for HCC includes the Spring Branch, Katy, and parts of the Fort Bend school districts. Administrative leadership is provided by a chancellor, who is the chief executive officer, a deputy chancellor/COO, vice chancellors for district-wide administrative areas, and presidents for regional colleges (Central, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest) and the specialized Coleman College for Health Sciences in the Texas Medical Center. Under the leadership of the HCC board and administration, the district has made significant investments in facilities, technology, and operational efficiencies that have prepared HCC for the future. HCC’s service area covers over 600 square miles of Houston and consists of 22 campuses or centers. This structure is conducive to providing a wide variety of academic and workforce offerings over a very large geographic area and to serving a diverse community. 2.2 Our City HCC serves the greater Houston area, the nation’s fourth largest city and its growing business economy provides limitless career opportunities for HCC students. The Greater Houston Partnership has identified the following key industries that drive our region and are poised for further growth, innovation, and excellence: • • • • • • • Advanced Manufacturing Aerospace/Aviation Biotechnology/Life Sciences/Medical Distribution/Logistics Energy, Petrochemicals, and Alternative Energies Information Technology Nanotechnology The Houston region offers a strong infrastructure to support these industries. Geographically centered between the East and West coasts of the nation, Houston hosts an exceptional airline system, deep sea port and intra-coastal waterway, multiple major railroads and intermodal facilities, and a world-class highway system. Houston is also home to the Texas Medical Center with the world’s largest concentration of expertise in medical treatment and care, medical research and medical technology. Houston is second only to New York City in the number of Fortune 500 and Forbes 2000 company headquarters. 3
  9. 9. Houston Community College The need for a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)-trained workforce in Houston is enormous and expected to continue to grow as the area attracts more STEM-related research and technology corporations. Current STEM fields will add an estimated 72,510 jobs to the Houston area by 2018. BioHouston reports that emerging technologies will add an additional Annise Parker, Mayor of the average of 37,517 jobs per year in the greater Houston metropolitan area over City of Houston: “HCC’s bold that timeline. vision to provide the Houston prizes its racial and ethnic diversity as a source of strength in a global economy and is becoming ever more diverse. The 2000 census found that no racial or ethnic group constitutes a majority of the population, with approximately 42 percent white, 18 percent African-American, 32 percent Hispanic, and 5 percent Asian. By 2030, Hispanics will likely become the majority and Asians will climb to 10 percent of the total. educational needs of our region will enable us to meet the challenges of the changing global marketplace.” Further, over one-fifth of Houstonians were born outside the United States. In many ways, Houston is truly an international city, hosting 83 consulates, 21 foreign banks, over 560 foreign-owned firms, and a population speaking over 90 languages. More than 600 Houston-area companies have offices in 129 different countries, while over 3,500 Houston companies are engaged in international business. The Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) contains 66 school districts, 50 charter schools, and a wide range of private and parochial schools. More than a dozen community colleges and 17 colleges and universities educate well over 320,000 Houston area students each year. In spite of its size, Houston provides a broad range of cost-competitive housing options; in fact Houston’s housing costs are the lowest among the 27 metro areas in the US with more than 2 million residents. 2.3 Our Students As an African American, Hispanic, and Asian American serving institution, HCC has a very diverse student population with the largest number of international students of any community college in the nation. Partly due to a traditional policy of open access and relatively low tuition rates, HCC, as most community colleges, enrolls larger percentages of nontraditional, low-income, and minority students than four-year colleges and universities. Other 3% HCC Student Demographics—Fall 2010 In Fall 2010, 83 percent of HCC students enrolled in semester credit hour courses leading to certificates and/or degrees, nine percent enrolled in Continuing Education Unit (CEU) courses, one percent enrolled in non-credit courses, and seven percent enrolled in Adult Literacy courses. HCC students attend primarily part-time (69 percent), while only 31 percent attend full–time. HCC students primarily take day time classes (59 percent), with 20 percent taking evening and 21 percent taking week-end or other classes. 4 Asian 14% White 18% Hispanic   Hispanic 34% AA   White   Asain   other   African American 31% Source: 2010 HCC Fact Book
  10. 10. Houston Community College In 2009-10, HCC awarded a total of 4,946 total degrees and certificates. Other awards included 2,204 students completing the core curriculum and 1,049 students completing marketable skills achiever awards. HCC enrolls over 7,000 students each semester in dual credit courses and operates five Early College High Schools (ECHS) on its campuses, all named “exemplary” by the Texas Education Agency. HCC provides students with entrée to excellent workforce opportunities and articulation agreements with colleges and universities across the state and nation provide students with access to outstanding baccalaureate programs. HCC created an Honors College in 2006 to attract academically talented students and provide them a costfree opportunity to study together in a cohort/learning community, develop leadership skills, increase their global perspective through study/travel abroad, and prepare them for scholarship opportunities to prestigious universities around the country. Our goal is to recruit a diverse, multicultural student cohort that would not otherwise have the chance to study with outstanding professors, take advantage of numerous service and leadership opportunities, and study/travel abroad. HCC students qualify for the Omega Sigma Chapter, one of the largest in the nation, of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. The chapter and its members have won numerous state and national awards. Most recently, HCC student and PTK member Curtwin Bismark, won both a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation transfer scholarship and a Newman Civic Fellow Award from Campus Compact. 2.4. Our Faculty The faculty members of HCC comprise a large and talented group of diverse individuals. During the 20102011 academic year HCC employed 910 full-time faculty members and 2,921adjunct faculty members. Of the total group, 23 percent hold doctorate degrees and 60 percent hold master’s degrees and above. Slightly over half (52 percent) of the faculty are female, and the ethnic breakdown includes 57 percent white, 24 percent African-American, 11 percent Hispanic, 8 percent Asian-American, and less than one percent American Indian. HCC faculty earned their credentials from prestigious universities across the nation and world, have won numerous awards and honors, including Fulbright Scholarships, appointments to prestigious national and state committees, and teaching exchanges with institutions around the globe. They have published scholarly books and articles, presented at professional conferences, composed operas and other musical pieces, and developed state-of-the-art curricula. HCC faculty currently write over $20 million of successful grant proposals each year, bringing funds to the college from the National Science Foundation, the US Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Education, and Labor, and numerous other sources. 5
  11. 11. Houston Community College 3.0 HCC INSPIRE – Process and Selection 3.1 Development and Selection of the QEP Topic The HCC QEP topic is HCC INSPIRE (Innovative Science Program Initiatives to Reform Education). The topic was selected not only for its focus on student-centered learning, but also for its potential for districtwide, interdisciplinary participation by faculty and meaningful, scalable institutional reform. The process that was used to select the topic spanned two years and included broad and diverse participation by HCC students, faculty, staff, administration, community members, and Board of Trustee members. The topic chosen answers critical needs for our nation and state and is one that HCC is in an excellent position to pursue in terms of our setting, our infrastructure, and our track record for instructional innovation. The chart below summarizes some of the major steps during the selection process that are detailed in the following narrative. 7
  12. 12. Houston Community College In Spring 2009, SACS Liaison and Vice Chancellor for Instruction Charles Cook created a new job description for a “SACS Director for HCC,” an individual who would lead the efforts to compile the Compliance Report, Focused Report, and Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for HCC during its efforts for reaffirmation of accreditation in 2012. During the Summer 2009, the job was posted and interviews were conducted. Judy Cantwell, HCC-SE College Library Chair, was selected as the HCC SACS Director. During Fall 2011, Director Cantwell and Dr. Cook worked with HCC Chancellor Mary Spangler to organize the HCC Steering Committee for Reaffirmation of Accreditation. To add to HCC senior administrators (Presidents and Vice Chancellors) and the current and incoming Faculty Senate Presidents, Director Cantwell posted a call for volunteers and nominations by faculty and staff to serve on the Steering Committee as well as a host of sub-committees that would examine Board Governance and Institutional Mission, Strategic Planning and Institutional Effectiveness, Instruction, Student Services, Institutional Resources, Administration, and Development of a QEP. HCC Steering Committee for Reaffirmation of SACS Accreditation Name Location Charles Cook (co-chair) Judy Cantwell (co-chair) Gisela (Bennie) Ables District District Northwest College Alan Ainsworth Central College Dan Arguijo Jonathan Brook District Northeast College Renee Byas Bill Carter District District Linda Comte Northeast College David Cross District Margaret Ford-Fisher Northeast College 8 Title Vice-Chancellor of Instruction SACS Director Department Chair President of HCC Faculty Senate (2009-2010) Department Chair President of HCC Faculty Senate (2010-2011) Chief Communications Officer Associate Department Chair Co-Chair Programs Committee General Counsel Vice-Chancellor for Information Technology Instructional Design Coordinator Co-Chair Institutional Mission Governance & Effectiveness Committee EEO/Compliance Director Co-Chair Library/Student Services Committee President Co-Chair Institutional Mission Governance & Effectiveness Committee
  13. 13. Houston Community College Name Location Fena Garza Southwest College Lollie Green Northeast College Bill Harmon Central College Butch Herod Northwest College Zach Hodges Northwest College Dennis Klappersack Southwest College Stephen Levey District Martha Oburn District Diana Pino District Irene Porcarello Southeast College Angela Secrest District Dan Seymour District Mary Spangler Art Tyler Thomas Urban District District Northwest College Willie Williams Betty Young District Coleman College 9 Title President Co-Chair QEP Development Committee Associate Dean of Student Development Co-Chair Institutional Mission Governance & Effectiveness Committee President Co-Chair Physical & Financial Resources Committee Executive Dean for Academic & Student Services Co-Chair QEP Development Committee President Co-Chair Faculty Committee Library Department Chair Co-Chair Physical & Financial Resources Committee Assoc. Vice-Chancellor for Academic Instruction Executive Director of Institutional Research Vice-Chancellor of Student Success President Co-Chair Programs Committee Director Library/LRC Support Services Vice-Chancellor of Institutional Planning & Effectiveness Chancellor COO/Deputy Chancellor Faculty Philosophy President of HCC Faculty Senate 2011-2012 Chief Human Resources Officer President Co-Chair Library/Student Service Committee
  14. 14. Houston Community College Director Cantwell and Dr. Cook presented “The Road to SACS Reaffirmation for HCC” to the Board of Trustees in October, 2009, explaining the processes, timelines, reports, and roles and responsibilities for all HCC constituent groups. The Steering Committee and sub-committee members were selected and the initial kick-off meetings were held in December 2009, including that of the QEP Development Committee, co-chaired by Dr. Fena Garza, President of HCC-Southwest College and Dr. Butch Herod, Executive Dean of HCC-Northwest College. The QEP Development Committee started the Spring 2010 semester by posting a QEP Suggestion Box on the HCC web site, explaining to HCC students, faculty, and staff, the purpose of a Quality Enhancement Plan, offering example topics, and inviting them to submit topic suggestions. HCC QEP Development Committee Name Location Butch Herod (co-chair) Northwest Fena Garza (co-chair) Alan Ainsworth Southwest Central Jennifer Ankenbauer District Laura Arzola John Boxie Tenecia Brown Willie Caldwell Southeast District District Southwest Bindu Chakravarty David Diehl Northeast District Vivian Ellis Arnold Goldberg Janis Innis David Joost Southwest Southwest Southwest District Steve Levey District Evelyn McClain Mike McCormick Cheryl Peters District Southwest Central James Smith Northeast Title Executive Dean Academic & Student Services President Faculty English Division Chair Faculty Senate President 2010-2011 Faculty Alternative Certification Program Faculty Development Studies Lieutenant, Police Department Web Content Specialist Faculty Department Chair Business Technology Faculty Chemistry Director Teaching & Learning Excellence Pt Counselor Dean Workforce Development Faculty Developmental English Director Adult Educational Programs A s s o c ia t e V ic e C h a n c e l l o r Academic Instruction Training Specialist Faculty Department Chair History Executive Dean Instruction & Student Services Public Services Librarian 10
  15. 15. Houston Community College All HCC leadership groups, including the Chancellor’s Strategic and Operational Teams, the Deans’ Councils, and the Faculty Senate were encouraged to have QEP discussions during the semester. HCC workforce programs engaged the members of their advisory committees in discussions about the QEP. During the May 2010 HCC graduation, each graduating student was asked to fill out a card answering the question: “What one thing would you suggest to improve HCC?” In Fall 2010, all of the HCC Colleges held QEP Forums for students, faculty, and staff participation, with the first held by HCC-Coleman College for the Health Sciences on September 7, 2010. HCC engaged students with focus group discussions on the QEP at meetings of the Phi Theta Kappa honors society and the United Student Council. By the end of the semester, the HCC suggestion box and the various forums and meetings had generated over 400 potential topics. The QEP Development Committee narrowed these topics down to five general categories. During the Spring 2011 semester, Director Cantwell and Dr. Cook issued a Request for Applications (RFA), inviting HCC faculty to apply for a stipend to write a QEP “white paper” on one of the five general topics, briefly explaining their background/experience, why they felt the topic should be selected, and what they proposed as the most needed actions to achieve the goal of their intended topic. The RFA offered the following further detail on the following general topics. 1. Improved Teaching and Student Learning in our Certificate and Degree Programs This topic would address HCC efforts to ensure that students are learning what they need for completion of their programs and successful performance at the next level. Examples include but are not limited to the following: Innovative and effective teaching strategies (e.g. Model Course Development, Learning Communities, etc.) and Active/Collaborative Learning (e.g., Service learning, Project based learning, etc.) 2. Improved Critical Thinking This topic would address the enhancement of critical thinking skills across the curriculum. Examples include but are not limited to the following: critical analysis, media literacy and information literacy. 3. Improved Teaching and Student Learning in Developmental Education and ESL at HCC This topic would address enhancement/development of strategies that address developmental education, focusing on one or more of its component parts: developmental reading, developmental writing, developmental math, or English as a Second Language. 4. Improved Pathways/Interventions Leading to Higher Completion Rates for HCC Students This topic would address means by which HCC might improve retention and persistence of students and increase their momentum toward completion of their goals – certificates, degrees, transfer, job placement, etc. It could include improvements in our outreach efforts, advising, orientation, mentoring, tutoring, assessment, tracking, soft skills, etc. 5. Use of Technology for Improved Student Learning This topic would address how HCC uses the Internet and other means of technology (iPads, computer notebooks, Kindles, Nooks, etc.) to improve teaching and learning. It could also include how HCC might enable students to become more literate and faculty to become more adept in utilizing ever-increasing waves of information, including “open source” learning materials. 11
  16. 16. Houston Community College A committee composed of Director Cantwell, Dr. Cook, Dr. Steve Levey (Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Instruction), Dr. Martha Oburn (Executive Director of Institutional Research), Dr. David Diehl, Director of the HCC Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, Dr. Alan Ainsworth (President of the HCC Faculty Senate), Faculty Senate appointee Professors Ruth Dunn and Pamela Norwood, and the Co-Chairs of the QEP Development Committee, Dr. Garza and Dr. Herod, selected seven faculty to write white papers, with at least one paper in each of the five categories above. The same committee ultimately read and judged the papers utilizing a rubric created by HCC Faculty Senate President Alan Ainsworth, and selected one submitted by Dr. A Tineke Berends, HCC-Biology Professor at HCC-Northwest College that included elements of active and collaborative learning, technology as a teaching tool, and “real world” content to improve teaching and student learning in the sciences. During the Spring semester 2011, Dr. Berends refined her topic as HCC INSPIRE: Innovative Science Program Initiatives to Reform Education and HCC named Dr. Berends as the QEP Director. Dr. Berends presented the topic to an HCC Faculty Roundtable to elicit feedback. She presented an overview of her topic in the first HCC QEP Newsletter to inform HCC students, faculty, and staff and delivered a PowerPoint presentation on the topic to the HCC Board of Trustees in May 2011. QEP Steering Committee Name Title Tineke Berends Juan Carlos Reina Bart Sheinberg Martha Oburn David Diehl Angela Secrest Nazanin Hebel Steve Dessens Kumela Tafa Mahtash Moussavi Beverly Perry Zachary Hodges Betty Fortune Charles Cook Judy Cantwell QEP Director (faculty) Director,Academic Resource Development Program Director, West Houston Center for Science Executive Director, Office of Institutional Research Director, Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence Director, HCC Libraries Program Coordinator—Biology (faculty) Program Coordinator—Chemistry (faculty) Program Coordinator—Physics (faculty) College Department Chair – SE (faculty) College Department Chair – NE (faculty) Northeast College President Southwest College Dean Vice-Chancellor for Instruction Director, Accreditation Compliance 12
  17. 17. Houston Community College Further actions to develop and refine the QEP topic during the Spring and Summer of 2011 included the following: • District-wide survey of science faculty needs for development and implementation of the QEP • District-wide survey of science students to validate need for real world, active and collaborative learning strategies • District-wide roundtable discussion to narrow focus of QEP • Formation of QEP research and writing teams • Writing and editing of QEP paper On August 24, 2011, at the start of the Fall 2011 semester, Dr. Berends made a PowerPoint presentation to HCC Instructional Leaders (Presidents, Deans, Program Coordinators, Department/Division Chairs) A video of Dr. Berends’s presentation may be accessed at: http://itunes.hccs.edu/HCCS_SACS_QEP_2011.mov. 3.2 Rationale for selecting HCC INSPIRE: Answering Critical Needs 3.2.1 External Factors The state of education in science, and more broadly, that of the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), has been a major concern in the United States for over two decades with many observers questioning “Are We Losing Our Edge?” (Michael D. Lemonick, Time Magazine, Feb 5, 2006) as the world’s leader in science and technology. In a 2005 best seller, Thomas Friedman argues that “The World is Flat” as new technologies have enabled the ambitious everywhere to compete successfully across borders. With large populations earning lower salaries and governments seemingly focused more intently on educational and economic advancements, countries as China, India, South Korea and Singapore are outpacing the U.S. on a varied set of indicators. What is even more unsettling to many Americans is that the advance of other countries is occurring as the progress of the United States seems to be stagnating or even slipping. Whereas the United States is currently the world’s leader in science and technology and the number of jobs in these fields is expected to grow much faster than those in other fields, America’s leadership faces major challenges. The technology workforce has traditionally consisted of white males and was regularly supplemented with scholars and scientists from around the world seeking to study and work in the U.S. Yet, the traditional workforce is aging, and the white male population demographic is being outpaced by minority populations, who in addition to females, are often less successfully recruited and prepared for careers in the STEM fields. Further, as opportunities are growing abroad, international students and workers are less likely to study and work in the U.S. 13
  18. 18. Houston Community College In 2005, the National Academies issued a report entitled Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, detailing problems and offering several specific recommendations for actions. Five years later in 2010, the same report was “revisited” and the same problems were noted and a subtitle was added that the gathering storm is “now approaching Category 5.” Listing just a few facts to illustrate the point, the report notes the following economic realities: • In 2009, 51 percent of United States patents were awarded to non-United States companies. • There are sixteen energy companies in the world with larger reserves than the largest United States company. There are 60 new nuclear power plants currently being built in the world. Only one of these is in the United States. • Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (computer manufacturing) employs more people than the worldwide employment of Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Intel and Sony combined. • United States consumers spend significantly more on potato chips than the government devotes to energy research and development. All the National Academies Gathering Storm committee’s recommenda¬tions could have been fully implemented with the sum America spends on cigarettes each year—with $60 billion left over. The Gathering Storm Revisited report (2010) also contains the following educational and quality of life indicators: • About 30 percent of U.S. high school math students and 60 percent of those enrolled in physical sciences have teachers who either did not major in the subject or are not certified to teach it. The situation is worse for low-income students. • The United States ranks 27th among developed nations in the propor¬tion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in science or engineering. The United States graduates more visual arts and performing arts majors than engineers. • According to the ACT College Readiness report, 78 percent of high school graduates did not meet the readiness benchmark levels for one or more entry-level college courses in mathematics, science, reading and English. • The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 48th in quality of mathematics and science education. The federal and state governments as well as corporate entities have responded to the crisis with numerous initiatives to expand research and innovation and improve the teaching of math and science in American schools and colleges. In 2009 the Obama Administration announced its Educate to Innovate Initiative and public-private partnerships have been announced by companies such as Time Warner, Discovery Communications, Exxon-Mobil, Intel, Xerox, and others. In 2011, the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation donated $25 million to the Texas-STEM Challenge Scholarship to provide competitive awards to regional partnerships between community and technical colleges and local employers to help attract, retain and graduate STEM students. 14
  19. 19. Houston Community College The Growing STEM Education Challenge for Community Colleges While our national need for scientific literacy and high-quality STEM graduates continues to grow, resources continue to shrink. Not surprisingly, enrollment at community colleges is up (Pew 2009, U.S. Department of Education 2009). Community colleges tend to be relatively diverse, enrolling greater percentages of underrepresented minority students (Pew 2010). Clearly, community colleges will need to carry an ever-larger share of the national responsibility to produce the much-needed STEM human capital (Boggs, G.R. 2010). Yet, community colleges face unique challenges in shouldering their share of the national mandate. Open enrollment policies, the commuter culture, lack of research infrastructure, and significant reliance on adjunct instructors are but a few of these challenges. Additionally, many community college students are those least prepared for the rigors of STEM education. Ironically, in striving to serve the needs of the under-prepared, top community college students at the other end of the spectrum may leave if they are not being sufficiently challenged (Atkinson R.C and Geiser S. 2009). 3.2.2 Internal Factors STEM Innovations at HCC HCC has already established itself as a leader in meeting the demands of its community with innovative instructional practices. In 2004, HCC became one of the original 27 community colleges nation-wide to win funding from the Lumina Foundation for Achieving the Dream (ATD), an initiative designed to assist students of color and students of low income achieve greater academic success. The initial ATD strategies included the design and implementation of student success and bridge courses. These strategies have successfully increased retention rates (HCC fall to spring persistence rates for students improved from 68.2 percent to 75.4 percent Fall 2002 to Fall 2010. HCC fall to fall persistence rates for students improved from 44.7 percent to 52.3 percent Fall 2002 to Fall 2009.) HCC INSPIRE will build on the proven history of ATD success. In addition to innovative institutional practices, HCC has launched several STEM-specific pilot programs district-wide. Among the highlights are: • The STEM Council, newly created to coordinate STEM activities across the HCC district • The NSF Scholars Program, a grant-funded program awarding district-wide STEM scholarships to students participating in extracurricular activities. • The HCC West Houston Center for Science and Engineering “Special Topics” research preparatory course and off-campus summer research opportunities in collaboration with the University of Houston, Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, Purdue University, and the University of Texas – Tyler, funded by The Department of Homeland Security and Chancellor Innovation Award. • UST-HCC STEM & Articulation Grant, a Department of Education $5.9 million grant funding activities designed to increase participation, retention, transfer and completion rates of Hispanic and other low-income STEM students through a collaboration between HCC and the University of St. Thomas. • HCC Chancellor Symposiums, involving HCC students, faculty, business and industry leaders. 2008: Life Sciences (guest speaker Dr. Malcolm Gillis, former President of Rice University and member of BioHouston) 2009: Energy (guest speaker John Hofmeister, founder and Chief Executive of Citizens for Affordable Energy and former President of Shell Oil). 2010: Health Sciences (guest speaker Dr. Helen W. Lane, Chief Scientist for Biological Sciences and Space Life Sciences at NASA/Johnson Space Center.) • Chancellor Innovation Grants to faculty. Institutional funds ($300,000-$600,000) awarded to faculty to pursue instructional innovations including the use of mobile technology and learning communities in the sciences as well as the technology in the scientific laboratory. 15
  20. 20. Houston Community College In addition to district-wide programs, individual colleges have launched initiatives for enhanced STEM opportunities including: • Research opportunities for faculty-student pairs at The Baylor College of Medicine through HCC-Southeast College’s Biology Department. • Empowering the Next Generation in Agri-science with Genomics Education (ENGAGE) and Innovative Means Promoting Agri-science Career Tracks (IMPACT), consecutive USDA grant-funded projects in collaboration with Texas A&M University and the USDA at Baylor College of Medicine. Through ENGAGE and IMPACT activities over 3000 HCC-Northwest College biology and chemistry students participate in oncampus, real-world research using research-grade HCC-owned instrumentation. Clearly, HCC has demonstrated a commitment to meeting the national and local need for scientific literacy and high-quality STEM graduates. outstanding HCC faculty to create courses for other faculty designed to improve pedagogy, create “learnercentered” instruction, maximize ATD strategies, and allow for ongoing professional development. Both the CIC and CTLE will be integrally involved in supporting the QEP for HCC. Science Enrollment The local need for STEM graduates is great and expected to continue as the area attracts STEM related research and technology corporations. Houston residents are increasingly aware that there is job availability in STEM fields both locally and at the national level, and that training in a STEM fields may be required to get these jobs. Therefore, it is not surprising that 5 year trend enrollment data reflects the vast increase in students enrolling specifically in science courses at HCC. Enrollment in biology, chemistry and physics courses has shown steady growth, increasing 52 percent in five years. This is higher than growth in any of the other STEM academic areas. HCC- Five Year trend Enrollment for Science Courses, FY 2006-2007 FY 2007-2008 FY 2008-2009 FY 2009-2010 FY 2010-2011 B I O L , C H E M , 26,032 PHYS 27,252 30,876 34,959 37,445 COLLEGE MATH 17,743 18,805 21,103 23,552 25,196 ENGR 257 547 873 1,203 Subject 172 o accommodate this growth, course sections in biology, chemistry and physics have increased accordingly. T This increase is reflected in both in-class and through distance education (DE) courses. In fact, enrollment in DE biology, chemistry and physics courses is growing at a faster rate than DE overall. In fall of 2011, 12,666 students (20 percent total enrollment) were enrolled in biology, chemistry or physics courses. Of those, 4,455 students (7 percent total enrollment) were enrolled in a core course (BIOL 1406, CHEM 1411 and PHYS 1401). In these core courses specifically, enrollment is up 37 percent in person and 196 percent in distance education. HCC INSPIRE has the potential to have a high impact on large numbers of HCC science students and to prepare them for STEM careers. 16
  21. 21. Houston Community College Fall 2007 Fall 2008 Fall 2009 Fall 2010 Fall 2011 BIOL-CHEMPHYS In Person Enrollment 9,141 9,887 11,476 12,720 12,474 Sections 452 491 522 542 532 Distance Education Enrollment Sections 1206 1824 2250 53 83 87 2327 84 2933 104 Total Enrollment 10,347 11,711 13,726 15,047 15,407 Sections 505 574 609 626 636 Fall 2007 Fall 2008 Fall 2009 Fall 2010 Fall 2011 BIOL-CHEMPHYS 1406 1411 1401 Enrollment 3,309 3,660 4,075 4,376 4,358 In Person Sections 160 175 181 186 185 Distance Education Enrollment Sections 99 5 169 8 193 8 187 8 297 13 Total Enrollment 3,408 3,829 4,268 4,563 4,655 Sections 165 183 189 194 198 Students in core biology, chemistry and physics courses are significantly more likely to be full-time students (58.4 percent vs. 29.9 percent) and recent high-school graduates. Forty-seven percent of students enrolled in target core courses are aged 18-22. The same age cohort represents only 37 percent of the total HCC population. Further, these students have increased retention both fall to spring and fall to fall over HCC students in general (77% vs. 70% and 53% vs. 45% respectively). However, only 17 percent of the associates degrees awarded were the Associate in Science degree. Combined, these data indicate that students enrolled in targeted biology, chemistry and physics courses are the type of students who transfer to four year programs often prior to completing an associate degree. In fact, results of the 2011 Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) indicate that science students are more likely to have the goal of transferring to a four-year college or university. Therefore, it is vital that the core courses they take at HCC prepare them for the academic rigor and learning environment of a four year university or college. Unfortunately, despite higher retention numbers, students in these target courses are less likely to earn a grade of A, B or C. Student success rates are lower in targeted courses (63.7 percent vs. 71.2 percent overall), suggesting that these students may not have the skills required to succeed in these core courses. As students are arriving at college less ready than ever before, it is increasingly important that we provide skills to students interested in STEM so they are ready to succeed in their first core science course. 17
  22. 22. Houston Community College First year student success courses have successfully been implemented at HCC as a part of the ATD initiative designed to assist students of color and students of low income achieve greater academic success. Initial strategies included the design and implementation of student success and bridge courses. Currently all entering students with less than 12 college credit hours must enroll in a student success course during their first semester. Students have had the following choices: • GUST 1270: College and Career Exploration (for students who are undecided about a major) • HPRS 1201: Introduction to the Health Professions • EDUC 1200: Careers in Education • ENGR 1201: Introduction to Engineering • LEAD 1200: Leadership in the Workforce The student success courses have been implemented district-wide and have had a significant impact in terms of student success. HCC fall to spring persistence rates for students improved from 68.2 percent to 75.4 percent from the fall 2002 to fall 2010. HCC fall to fall persistence rates for students improved from 44.7 percent to 52.3 percent from the fall 2002 to fall 2009. In the fall of 2011, 476 sections of GUST1270 were offered (11,000 seat count), the largest of the success courses. GUST 1270 is designed to prepare students for the demands of college and work. The course emphasizes prioritization, time management, note-taking and listening skills, in addition to career assessment, financial aid, tutoring and student support services, all skills necessary to enable students to maximize the use of college resources. Because of a number of factors, HCC is moving from GUST 1270 to EDUC 1300: Learning Frameworks for the same students who formerly took GUST 1270. This course, based on psychological theories of learning, will be a more rigorous introduction for college. Apart from HPRS 1201: Introduction to the Health Professions, HCC does not presently offer a first year success course specific to the academic sciences. Although there are first year success courses that are program specific, there is not a course offered that uses science content to prepare students for the specific demands of future core science courses, despite strong and consistent growth in core science course enrollment. Therefore, to continue and build on the proven success of ATD, one goal of the QEP will include the design and implementation of a first year science-based student success course to prepare students for science learning. Due to increasing enrollment in core biology, chemistry and physics courses, it is increasingly important students be prepared and equipped with science-specific learning and study skills that lay the foundation for future success in science courses. HCC as a Leader in Instructional Innovation As a result of the ATD successes, HCC received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for participation in the Developmental Education Initiative (DEI); and received an invitation from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to participate in the Statway project. Statway is an initiative that creates an alternative math pathway for non-STEM students. Statway students take college level Statistics as opposed to College Algebra. In a similar way to this proposed QEP, Statway is based on learning modules that present students with “real world” problems. For example, students are presented with various data concerning five different breakfast cereals and asked to utilize the data to answer such questions as “Which cereal is most nutritious?” or “Which cereal will likely sell at the cheapest price?” This type of real world learning helps students understand the correlation between personal experience and the material content. According to a QEP student survey (June, 2011) science students desire this same type of relevance and real-world connection. On a scale of 1 (not helpful) to 5 (very helpful), eighty percent of students rated “relating new information to information I already know” as “moderately to very helpful”, 18
  23. 23. Houston Community College and eighty-one percent of students rated “seeing how new information applies to real-world situations” as “moderately to very helpful”. When instructors emphasize relevancy to students, it increases student interest and consequently success. Real-world problem based learning modules, like those utilized in Statway, allow students to put their skills into practice and demonstrate that it is not only what students learn but the way that they learn that influences success. In the digital age where all students have one-click access to information on computers and digital devices, it will be the student who can interpret and comprehend information who will be the most successful. In generations past, students could suffice by preparing themselves for well-defined and relatively predictable jobs and careers, yet many of today’s students are preparing for jobs that do not yet exist and in time will no doubt disappear or be subject to continued and substantial change. In the workplace of the future, long-term professional survival will depend on being able to actively adapt to rapidly evolving technology, and to work collaboratively, solving real-world problems as they emerge. The use of online modules to incorporate problem-based learning into the classroom has distinct advantages. The module format will allow large scale district-wide implementation that will ensure consistency amongst HCC faculty including a large percentage of adjunct instructors. It is common for scientists to work collaboratively with other scientists, exchanging ideas, presenting data at research meetings and writing papers in peer-reviewed journals. One might expect, based solely on the collaborative nature of scientific research itself, that students in science courses are actively engaged learners having constant interaction with classmates and the instructor. However, results of the 2011 CCSSE indicate that science students are less likely to be engaged in class. Science students were significantly less likely to indicate that they ask questions, make presentations or work on projects in class. Science students were also significantly less likely to communicate with the instructor regarding grades, course material or literature outside of the classroom. Further, HCC has only two science specific extracurricular clubs. Research shows that actively engaged students both in and outside of the classroom are more likely to learn, to persist, and to attain their academic goals. Reforms in science education will be necessary to fill this need. Concurrent to HCC efforts, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating board has recently revised the core curriculum to ensure that students develop the essential knowledge and skills necessary for success in college, career, community, and in life. To this end, the Coordinating board approved a 42 semester credit hour core curriculum for all undergraduate students in Texas to be implemented in Fall 2014. The core objectives include critical thinking skills, communication skills, empirical and quantitative skills and teamwork. HCC INSPIRE will address and align science education reform with these new objectives. 3.3 Narrowing and Developing the QEP Focus The HCC QEP topic, INSPIRE (INnovative Science-Program Initiatives to Reform Education) is meant to do what its acronym suggests: set in motion innovative initiatives for district-wide education reform to improve student learning, engagement and success at HCC. HCC INSPIRE will begin in core science courses due to strong, consistent enrollment growth in biology, chemistry and physics core courses. Current CCSSE and student survey data reveal that the students desire greater engagement. HCC INSPIRE will enhance the way we teach science based on how the educational research says our students learn best. Through the QEP development process, HCC INSPIRE has evolved into a comprehensive, integrated plan that will lay the foundation for district-wide, sustainable, scalable science education reform at Houston Community College. Central to meaningful reform will be the incorporation of fully-supported, faculty-driven learning opportunities shown to improve higher-order thinking, while simultaneously ensuring science student learning, 19
  24. 24. Houston Community College success and engagement. Through HCC INSPIRE, HCC must prepare its science students for the real world, empowering them with intellectual capital so they will be able to continue to apply their knowledge and succeed long after they leave HCC classrooms. It is HCC’s vision to be “the most relevant community college in the country, the opportunity institution for every student we serve, and essential for our community’s success 20
  25. 25. Houston Community College 4 Review of Literature and Best Practices 4.1 Literature Review This section reviews the theory and background on real world, active, and collaborative learning techniques. These techniques support Houston Community College defining itself as a learning college that should embrace learner-centered practice and make “decisions [that are] evaluated in terms of the improvement of student learning” (Muzbeck, n.d.). The best practices identified in HCC INSPIRE are in keeping with HCC’s value of excellence and resolve to achieve student success. Most practitioners embrace active learning as an umbrella to learner-centered education which encompasses real world and collaborative learning. Active learning encourages student engagement to increase persistence and real world application. It does not always involve “interaction” (Cross, 2003), but may instead generate intra-action by stimulating learners to reflect and “self-monitor both the processes and the results of learning” (Cross, 2003). Educators’ enhanced use of active learning in science classrooms encourages students to achieve HCC’s defined institutional student learning outcomes (ISLOs) and competencies: reading, writing, speaking/listening, critical thinking, and computer/information literacy. Students, as young as age eight, exhibit science anxiety. Typically, they do not experience similar emotions in non-science subjects. Researchers at the Science Anxiety Clinic at Loyola University Chicago questioned college students, tested their muscle tension, and assessed their academic performance to determine how best to reduce this behavior. Clinic professionals found that blending the following three techniques brought about positive results and reduced anxiety in test subjects (Mallow, 2006): • Science skills learning, • Changing a student’s negative self-perception, and • Desensitization, through muscle relaxation, to science anxiety-producing scenarios. In active learning based classrooms, students feel more comfortable in their environment which helps them feel more positive and experience less tension. Obstacles such as science anxiety have spurred initiatives, of which HCC INSPIRE is one, to have instructors and institutions create new approaches, new demonstrations, interactive software, and innovative pedagogies (Tobias, 1997). For example, in one study, students’ abilities to process and integrate their understanding in first year physics courses rose after implementation of active learning based peer instruction. Instructor Eric Mazur (1997) discusses his students’ ability to apply Newton’s Third Law to course material. Even without exposure to active learning, his students were able to recite definitions of the law and perform applicable numeric problems. However, what he discovered—after issuing the famed Halloun and Hestenes (1985) test which requires students to demonstrate an understanding about physical phenomena as opposed to merely reciting theories—was that even after several months, students still held the conceptual beliefs with which they entered the classroom. During test situations, students would become frustrated because “they believe[d] they had mastered the material” (Mazur, 1997) only to realize their knowledge could not be universally applied. After the integration of peer instruction and concept based learning, Mazur’s students had a mean rise of 6.7 points on final exam scores over a six year period between 1985 and 1991. Studies like his support this QEP proposal to enhance student competencies and institute more real world, active, and collaborative learning into HCC’s science education. 21
  26. 26. Houston Community College Students and teachers are responsible for creating educational environments that enhance achievement. After comparing the effects of active learning to traditional lecture based engineering courses, the hypothesis that “active and collaborative learning instructional approaches [are] more effective than conventional . . . methods” (Terenzini, Cabrera, Colbeck, Parente, & Bjorklund, 2001) appears validated. In a series of biology laboratory classes at Drake University, students viewed interactive video before performing dissections. After viewing these video tapes, students not only better understood the laboratory specimen, but their “performance in the laboratory gained perceptibly” (Bonwell & Eison, 1991). Additionally, frustration was reduced and the “quality of the dissections greatly improved” (Bonwell & Eison, 1991). Bonwell and Eison also discuss similar results taking place in chemistry classes. Instructors in active learning communities assume a facilitator role and reassign the responsibility of learning to their students. Learners become engaged in their own education, which often requires “reorientation” (Cross, 2003) since most students have little experience in self-exploration and evaluation. Instructors and students should readily welcome this change when they recognize the potential rewards. Real World Learning Real world learning, similar to problem based learning (PBL), is initiated by the presentation of a problem, challenge, or research question centered on a topic relevant to everyday life and career. PBL centers around content knowledge perceived as relevant and important by students. Educators should apply PBL to their teaching because “most students can be taught anything as long as it is relevant to their world” (Tileston, 2000). Learners gravitate toward experiences that satiate their need to understand the correlation between personal experience and presented material. When educators effectively demonstrate real world relevancy, the “energizing and curiosity-inducing dimensions of problems that form the basis and rationale for using problems in teaching and learning” (Barrett & Moore, 2011) occur and make learning more enjoyable. This, then, increases learner interest and success. When students are spectators in a classroom, they are less engaged and less likely to demonstrate mastery of the student learning outcomes (SLOs) necessary for success. Students who demonstrate a mastery of Knowledge, the first of the six levels that construct Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Domain, often identify their comprehension with key words such as (Clark, 2010): Defines Labels Outlines Selects Describes Lists Recalls States Identifies Matches Recognizes Knows Names Reproduces Unengaged students characteristically climb the Cognitive Domain ladder at a comparatively slower pace than their actively engaged peers. Students immersed in environments that endorse active learning are empirically quicker to achieve higher levels of Cognitive Domain. Students that exhibit evaluation, the highest level of cognitive domain, are identified by terms including (Clark, 2010): Appraises Criticizes Discriminates Justifies Compares Critiques Evaluates Relates Concludes Defends Explains Summarizes Contrasts Describes Interprets Supports 22
  27. 27. Houston Community College Science based guided inquiry refers to actions that expand students’ “knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as [the] understanding of how scientists study the natural world” (National Science Education Standards, 1996). This involves “a scenario, a case, a challenge, a visual prompt, a dilemma, a design brief, [or] a puzzling phenomenon” that creates an incentive to learning (Barrett & Moore, 2011). Guided inquiry has been employed throughout science curricula and especially health care programs. Health care students parlay “clinical relevance, small group interactions, and active learning” (Solomon, 2011) into inquiry based PBL opportunities. Health care program instructors offer real life medical and ethical problems to students. These scenarios stimulate discussions regarding learned information and how better to conjecture potential outcomes. Questions presented may require factual knowledge, literature evaluation, or integration (Solomon, 2011), which are key elements of guided inquiry in the sciences. Problem-based learning (PBL) is a total approach to inquiry advocated by constructivist proponents. Constructivists believe that learners create and interpret knowledge for themselves through experience. Until the late 1960s, most science programs were teacher-centered and lecture formatted. Medical scientists were among the first professionals to “assert that students could learn basic science content without sitting in a lecture hall eight hours a day for two years” (Korin & Wilkerson, 2011). Though the first medical school to formally revise its curriculum was McMaster Medical School in 1969, it was not until Harvard Medical School implemented a hybridized lecture/PBL program that other schools “began adopting a problem-based pedagogical approach to address knowledge integration across courses and years” (Korin & Wilkerson, 2011). Modern views of learner centered education have inspired projects which heighten real life application and inquiry based problem solving. Data demonstrates that changes in curriculum expand learning outcomes, sustain engagement, increase problem complexity, and modify the shift from basic science content to clinical content (Korin & Wilkerson, 2011). Writing components within science education have recently been added into standards and curriculum because of writing’s essential place among highly regarded teaching strategies. When students are asked to write in science based PBL programs, they must interpret presented problems and offer hypotheses, data, and conclusions. This can be difficult for beginning science students since writing scientifically revolves around “factual information about structure, function, or events” (Clopton, 2011). Clopton, an introductory biology instructor, requires students to read science based research articles and write narratives in response. This task promotes “learning about the processes of scientific thinking and investigation” (Clopton, 2011) which are necessary critical thinking and writing skills. Some students have to learn writing skills (specifically those needed in science) concurrently with learning science skills and concepts. In the past, students who passed summative exams were judged knowledgeable. It is now believed that writing, unlike traditional testing, is a decidedly constructivist approach to formative assessment (Clopton, 2011) that couples with active learning techniques. Active Learning Active learning challenges students to move from remote participation to centralized participation. With institutional support, this teaching methodology requires students to individualize their learning needs, take responsibility for completing assigned tasks, and perform self-assessments. With practice, students’ awareness of their strengths and weaknesses heighten. The wide-reaching shift from instructor-centered to student-centered teaching in science education signifies institutions’ desires to enhance achievement. 23
  28. 28. Houston Community College Notably though, evidence suggests that success increases when students are slowly initiated into the reorientation process required of participants in active learning environments. Therefore, students who undertake several active learning based science courses must rapidly discover the accountability required of active learners. They may not be as successful as peers who enroll in fewer science courses their first year. As such, post-secondary institutions limit the number of science courses that science majors can take during their first year (Hrabowski, 2005) due to science’s intimidating perception. Active learning requires students to challenge themselves and become committed to learning. Institutions are expected to create pathways that strive to achieve this outcome to help create “motivated, thinking, responsible, and productive citizens for the next century” (Tileston, 2000). Teachers are responsible for employing guided inquiry and “orienting students to the goals and purposes of active learning, making decisions about . . . learning groups, assigning and structuring learning tasks, assuming active participation . . . and monitoring and assessing learning” (Cross, 2003) beyond students’ selfassessments. Such deviation from the traditional teaching experience often necessitates faculty orientation and training. Professional development is essential to introduce faculty to the positive impact that active learning can achieve and to provide collegial support networks. Such networks encourage “everybody to work to top capacity” (Brandt, 1987) and to provide well researched, goal oriented educational opportunities for students. When Mazur read articles by Halloun and Hestenes and researched best physics teaching strategies, he assumed the necessary responsibility to teach in an active manner and best help his students critically think about presented curriculum. In an active learning environment, teachers must be cognizant to employ best practices. Student success and satisfaction are important factors reliant upon, among other things, Student Faculty Interaction (SFI). Results from The Harvard Assessment Seminars, a formal review of SFI practices, showed that 97 percent of men and 95 percent of women were satisfied with their school experience when they had personal contact with faculty (Light, 1992). Furthermore, “nearly every student who describes strong academic performance can point to a specific activity that ties academic work closely to another person or group” (Light, 1992). Light also points out that in addition to peers, the “other person is often a professor who is supervising the student’s work in a small class” (Light, 1992). A benefit of an education at HCC is the relatively small classroom sizes which facilitate SFI. Faculty members that employ active learning practices are more likely to interact with students and utilize active learning if they are knowledgeable about the effects and successes the combination of active learning and SFI will have. Collaborative Learning Collaborative learning is defined as a “learning paradigm [in which] there is positive interdependence among a group of students in the learning process and each student is both individually accountable for his/her own learning and responsible for other group members’ learning” (Sapon-Shevin & Schniedewind, 1992). It is vital to the long term improvement of curriculum because “students teaching other students” is one of the “most effective methods of teaching” (McKeachie & Svinicki, 2006). Several studies, including metaanalyses done by David and Roger Johnson, have been conducted on the differences between collaborative and competitive learning environments. Empirically, students with a background in collaborative learning not only succeed academically at higher rates than alumnae of traditional classrooms, but are also more “positive, committed, [and] involved in more caring relationships” (Johnson, 1993). 24
  29. 29. Houston Community College As an “accepted and highly recommended instructional procedure,” (Johnson & Johnson, n.d.) considerable evidence exists that promotes collaborative learning as one of the most preferred methods of teaching. Collaborative learning can be used effectively to teach any subject matter, including science, and provide the skills necessary for success. Johnson and Johnson provide strong evidence that collaborative learning promotes higher levels of “academic achievement, leadership training, group decision making, conflict management” (Brandt, 1987), and social support. Social support often “provides the [necessary means] to improve attendance, personalize the educational experience . . . and improve the quality of school life” (Johnson & Johnson, n.d.). Collaborative learning helps reduce the “revolving door” effect that numerous community colleges, including HCC, experience. Collaborative learning techniques, by necessity, involve active learning. Collaborative learning falls under the umbrella of learner-centered teaching since “students must [actively] talk about what they are learning, relate it to past experiences, apply it to authentic problems, [and] construct their own meaning” (Stage, Muller, Kinzie, & Simmons, 1998). In traditional, teacher-centered classrooms, students have few opportunities to learn the interpersonal communication skills necessary to have meaningful academic dialogue. Their communications skills, therefore, often align with the first levels of Cognitive Domain, and the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Affective Domain. Students who Receive Information, the first level of Affective Domain, often identify with key words such as (Clark, 2010): Asks Gives Points to Uses Chooses Holds Selects Replies Describes Identifies Sits Names Follows Locates Erects Gives Introducing more collaborative learning into science courses at HCC gives students the opportunity to achieve higher levels of Affective Domain because they will experience increased communication with others. In addition, students will have better “intergroup relations, acceptance of academically handicapped classmates, and increased self-esteem” (Slavin, 1995). Identifiers associated with student participation at the Characterization level, the highest level of Affective Domain, are (Clark, 2010): Acts Listens Proposes Serves Discriminates Modifies Qualifies Solves Displays Performs Questions Verifies Influences Practices Revises Communication is the foundation of a successful collaborative based classroom. Two of the four chief communication methods mentioned in 10 BEST Teaching Practices (Tileston, 2000) help secondary students benefit from significant educational experiences. 25
  30. 30. Houston Community College 1. Communication between teachers and students Educators set their classroom tone. When students regularly interact with instructors, results similar to those described in the Harvard Assessment Seminars (Light, 1992) occur. SFI leads to improved classroom attendance, stronger classroom communities, and higher academic achievement. Teachers who are skilled classroom managers move about their classroom to observe activities, join student discussions, and avail themselves to questions or comments. 2. Communication between students Students in collaborative learning based classrooms are frequently divided into formal and informal groups that can be long or short term and vary in size. Practitioners agree that five is the ideal group number. Students in fours often split themselves into pairs while threes often become a “pair and an outsider” (Cross, 2000). Grouping presents several opportunities to work toward a common goal and “engage in group processing” (Yager, Johnson, Johnson, & Snider, 2001). “The purpose of group processing is to clarify and improve the effectiveness of [group] members in contributing to . . . collaborative efforts to learn” (Yager, Johnson, Johnson, & Snider, 2001). Through exercises like group processing, students are exposed to student diversity. By integrating their opinions, students learn to appreciate each other’s differences and learn from them. Diversity awareness and appreciation are central to the community college experience. Learning how to communicate effectively with peers is an important life skill learned through collaboration. Formerly, students were considered “passive recipients of knowledge” (Johnson, Johnson, & Smith, 1998) that thrived in competitive, individualistic environments propelled by extrinsic rewards. Students are now recognized for their vibrant backgrounds which augment classroom discussion, knowledge construction, evaluation, and interaction. Implementation of HCC INSPIRE initiatives corresponds to the paradigm shift in post-secondary education today. Real-world, active, and collaborative learning will enable students to develop their own understanding in science education, allowing them the opportunity to critically analyze content, strengthen communication skills, and connect course material to real life. 4.2 Review of Best Practices and Suggestions for Implementation A critical review of pertinent best practices, with thoughtful recommendations, very recently published by Felder, Brent and Prince, (Felder, Brent, & Prince, 2011) is particularly relevant to the HCC INSPIRE program. Felder, Brent, and Prince explicitly address engineering education, but every point equally applies to all STEM disciplines, including those to participate in HCC INSPIRE. The recommendations in this study take the form of critical decisions made by an institution among several reasonable alternatives in four categories of activities. Through a brief description of the best practices, and the thrust of the decision-making/recommendation, those best practices appropriate to HCC INSPIRE can be identified. (Some of the categories are only briefly touched on here, since they form the content of other sections of this document.) 26
  31. 31. Houston Community College The categories to be addressed are: • Faculty training and development • Course development and implementation • Assessment of results • Creating a supportive campus culture. The critical decisions revolve around considerations of: • Institutional type, charter and resources • Scope of the program, whether institution-wide or limited to specific disciplines • Composition and experience of faculty A few global aspects need to be addressed for the sake of effectiveness of the program. Faculty Training and Development A wide range of activities are covered by this term. Workshops are widely used, and may meet once yearly or per semester, and may be institution-wide or limited in attendance to faculty in a particular field or closelyrelated set of disciplines, such as the STEM fields. The facilitators of the workshops may be external to the institution, or drawn from its members. Typically, workshops meet for a full day or two consecutive days. In general, for workshops to be effective in leading to positive changes in STEM instructors’ teaching activities, and in the students’ learning, the facilitator(s) need be expert in both STEM content and pedagogical theory. There are few candidates who meet both criteria, so it is advantageous to have two facilitators, one expert in the STEM content, the other in the pedagogical content. STEM faculty members are unlikely to seriously consider changing their teaching habits on the words of an expert in another field, unless joined by a respected colleague in their own area. Seminars, meeting perhaps weekly or biweekly, can also introduce new active learning ideas, and have an advantage over workshops in that the development instrument continues while faculty experiment with the changes, and discuss their experiences with one another. Seminars would typically include faculty from a single discipline or a set of STEM disciplines. (The multiple-campus structure of HCC might militate against the use of seminars of this type.) Mentoring (experienced member paired with a novice) or Partnering (pairing of peers) can be a very effective method of implementing and monitoring the success of active learning techniques in the classroom, so long as the association involves frequent discussion of the activities, and endures for at least a semester. A variant of this is Consulting, in which an outside expert works individually with one or several faculty members. A Learning Community may be formed for the purpose of faculty development. A Learning Community in this context is defined by “a community of faculty members who organize themselves around individual or communal activities intended to improve their teaching and to provide support and guidance to one another.” (Cox, 2004) The implication is that the existence of a Learning Community is also a measure of success of the program, since the Learning Community is formed on the initiative of its members, who are presumably active participants and wish to “raise their game”. 27
  32. 32. Houston Community College Finally, a last method to mention is a Teacher Certification Program, which is rarely used for STEM faculty in the United States, but common in some other countries. These programs include mandatory instructional development. Literature suggests that such programs are successful only if strongly supported on a national level, which makes it reasonable to consider a Teacher Certification Program beyond the scope of this QEP program. Multiple Methods appear to be needed. Rarely, if ever, would the use of only a single one of the methods listed above be considered best practice. Rather, a best practice program would combine, say, a workshop and/or seminar series with a mentoring, partnering, consulting and/or a learning community part. An implication is that workshops and seminars can recruit faculty members to participation in the active learning effort. Sustaining that participation appears to be the major contribution of the other methods, with mentoring and consulting guiding the novice, and partnering and learning communities sustaining the progress of more mature practitioners. The descriptions of activities engaged in as parts of the Mentoring, Consulting, Partnering and Learning Community methods invariably include either classroom observation or video recording of teaching and student responses in the classroom. The observations and/or recordings of classroom activities provide concrete data on the effect of the methods. Collection of these data is not explicitly mandated as best practice in implementing these methods, but there is a strong implication that the effectiveness of the methods could be greatly compromised without it. A discussion of best practices in instructional development would be remiss without reference to the principles that learning theory indicates are essential to the design of the program. A succinct tabulation of these is described in the chart below. Factors that motivate adult learning (adapted from Wlodkowski, 1999) Factor 1. Expertise of presenters 2. Relevance of content 3. Choice in application 4. Praxis (action plus reflection) 5. Group work Rationale Adults expect their teachers to be experts in the material being taught, well-prepared to teach it, and knowledgeable about the interests, needs, and problems of their audience. Adults may quickly become impatient with material they cannot easily relate to their personal interests or professional needs. Adults respond well when given options about whether, when, and how to apply recommended methods, and are skeptical of “one size fits all” prescriptions. Adults appreciate opportunities to see implementations of methods being taught and to try the methods themselves, and then to reflect on and generalize the outcomes. Adults enjoy and benefit from sharing their knowledge and experiences with their colleagues. 28
  33. 33. Houston Community College Overall, there are two substantial supports needed for a successful program of instructional development: (1) some meaningful incentive for faculty members to participate in the program, and (2) some meaningful reward for any improvements in teaching that may result from their participation. (Felder, Brent, & Prince, 2011) There are no prescriptive best practices to provide these supports. This is supported by another researcher in the statement that “If quality teaching is not explicitly expected and rewarded as an institutional priority, faculty may feel that participation in such a program to strengthen teaching and improve student learning is not highly valued by administrators compared to other activities. Therefore, administrators may need to provide some form of external motivation for faculty participation” (Romano, 2004). Another factor is that substantial change takes time as the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Program 2061 indicates: “Sensible professionals do not replace their strongly held views and behavior patterns in response to fiat or the latest vogue; instead, they respond to developing sentiment among respected colleagues, to incentives that reward serious efforts to explore new possibilities, and to the positive feedback that may come from trying out new ideas from time to time—all of which can take years.” (Ahlgren, A. and Rutherford, A.J. 1991) It should also be recognized that a high percentage of the science courses at HCC are taught by adjunct instructors, so HCC INSPIRE initiatives have to accommodate both full-time instructors with heavy teaching loads and part-time instructors who may be transient and dealing with the needs of students from several institutions. This direction responds to the simple observation that inclusion only of the full-time faculty would have a limited impact on student learning because students do not distinguish courses taught by full-time faculty or part-time faculty. Therefore, district-wide implementation of a successful program will require inclusion of the following elements: 1. Recruitment: Implement on-going workshops for science faculty, with two primary stated purposes: • 1.1.Recruitment of part-time and full-time faculty to active participation in HCC INSPIRE. Participating faculty become members of an HCC INSPIRE Faculty Development Community. The presenter of the recruitment part of the program might be a respected member of the science faculty at HCC. • 1.2.Presentation of ongoing real-world, active and collaborative learning programs at other institutions, with statistics comparing learning outcomes with those of traditional teaching techniques. This might be by someone of a stature on the level of Dr. Richard M. Felder of North Carolina State University. 2. Incentive: A salary premium under contract per course for volunteers participating in the program. 3.Responsibilities: • 3.1. Attendance and participation in periodic seminars of HCC INSPIRE Faculty Development Community members. The seminars might be inclusive of all STEM disciples at a college, or limited to a particular discipline, depending on the number of members available. • 3.2. Frequent attendance and video recording of classes of other participants, and having such observance and recording of one’s own classes. • 3.3. Formation of at least one Mentor relationship or Peer Partner relationship each semester with another participant. Frequent meetings with the partner for mutual review of classroom recordings. • 3.4. Implementation of at least one Collaborative Learning Module per semester for a course taught during that semester. 29
  34. 34. 4. Continuity of the Program: • 4.1. One can reasonably expect a hesitant start to such a program. It may take three to five years before a solid core of faculty stabilizes the HCC INSPIRE Faculty Development Community. During this startup period, the participation level may be volatile, and a considerable amount of administrative nurturing may be required. • 4.2. The goals of the program can only be obtained with a firm, unwavering commitment from the administration, especially during the early years of the program. This requires a determined financial commitment by the institution. • 4.3. Safeguards against gaming the program by uncommitted or nonperforming faculty would be necessary. Professional quality work should be demanded. Participants who do not fulfill the responsibilities of the program should not be offered continuing contracts. Contracts could be limited to a single course for each faculty member, at least initially. • 4.4. Experienced and productive members of the HCC INSPIRE Faculty Development Community will rightfully come to think of themselves as a teaching elite, whose example will draw the most talented of the pool of adjunct instructors into the program. When this level is reached, the program will have become self-sustaining. • 4.5. The experience of students taught by the members of the HCC INSPIRE Faculty Development Community will result in a higher level of student achievement and eventual competition by universities and private industry to attract graduates of the HCC INSPIRE program. • 4.6. Membership in the HCC INSPIRE Faculty Development Community should be mandatory for volunteers in the program, instead of developing over time from the initiative of the volunteers. This forcing seems slight given the incentive offered for volunteers, and has the potential for speeding the attainment of maturity for the program as a whole. • 4.7. Over time, a library of modules for the STEM courses should build, providing choices of modules available for use by instructors, and also providing good templates for future modules to be developed by inexperienced volunteers. Thus a critical mass of high-quality modules should be attained in the program, which provides another source of stability and continuity for the program.
  35. 35. Houston Community College 5 The QEP: HCC INSPIRE Goals, Activities, and Student Learning Outcomes QEP PURPOSE STATEMENT: HCC INSPIRE will improve student learning, engagement and success in the sciences. The QEP development process produced a plan to reform science instruction at HCC. The traditional mode of lecture-based instruction will be enhanced by the incorporation of real-world problem based learning in the classroom. Literature searches and a study of best-practices across the nation helped confirm that plans to change science instruction would conform to national trends. Many HCC science students have the goal of transferring to a four-year college or university. Therefore, it is vital that the core courses they take at HCC prepare them for the academic rigor and learning environment of a four year university or college. Experience in the HCC classroom will teach them to practice science skills while solving real-world problems, and help them apply what they have learned outside of the classroom. Three goals and related activities have been identified that will result in a transformation of science teaching and learning. Goal 1: Ensure science course readiness Activities include the design of a first year science-based student success course to prepare students for science learning. Goal 2: Institutionalize real-world, active and collaborative learning in science courses Activities include the implementation of real-world problem-based, active and collaborative learning modules to enhance learning and engagement in science courses. Activities within the modules will allow students to put science skills into practice.. Goal 3: Offer district-wide science enrichment opportunities Activities include district-wide organization of faculty-sponsored science clubs to promote student engagement and provide enrichment opportunities for students to apply science knowledge outside of the classroom. 31
  36. 36. Houston Community College 5.1 Goal 1: Ensure science course readiness HCC INSPIRE will create a science-based first year success course (S-FSC) to ensure science course readiness. QEP GOAL: STRATEGY: OBJECTIVES: GOAL1: Science First Year Success Course 1: Develop science-based Science First Year Success Course Ensure science course readiness 2: Train faculty to teach Science First Year Success Course 3: Offer and implement Science First Year Success Course 4: Improve student science learning & study skills (an SLO-driven objective) 5: Improve student success in science courses 5.1.1: A science-based first year success course (S-FSC) More students are arriving at college less ready than ever before. Many students lack the necessary motivation, self-discipline, and fundamental academic skills to gather, conceptualize and process knowledge. They arrive with limited awareness of possible science career paths and an educational plan to succeed. Hence any implementation of science teaching best practices must be accompanied, or preceded by ensuring science students have the tools, information and the support necessary for successful progression through rigorous core science courses. As noted in chapter 3, HCC has created a series of first year success courses for students interested in pursuing study and work in engineering, education, the health sciences or the workforce in general, as well as students who are “undecided” regarding a major. These courses go beyond a standard orientation or study skills course, and include information about career exploration, time management techniques, financial aid, and academic advising. One of the goals of every first year success course is that every student will leave the course with a degree plan in hand. The establishment of these personal goals in freshman success courses has led to a marked increase in student persistence, completion, or transfer. Currently, of the five first year success courses offered, one is designated specifically for students who are “undecided” (GUST1270). GUST1270 is designed to prepare students for the demands of college and work. The course emphasizes prioritization, time management, note-taking and listening skills, in addition to career assessment, financial aid, tutoring and student support services, all skills necessary to enable students to maximize the use of college resources. For a number of reasons related to state approval of courses, GUST1270 is being replaced with EDUC1300: Learning Frameworks in the Fall 2012 semester. The proposed science-based first year success course (S-FSC) will incorporate science specific units within the EDUC1300 course. In other words, a science emphasis will be added to certain sections of EDUC1300. Students interested in science will be highly encouraged to sign up for the S-FSC versions of EDUC1300. However, since all freshmen with less than 12 credit hours are required to take a success course, many “undecided” students may enroll in the S-FSC sections and will benefit from improved science study skills even though they may not be headed into a science career. Capturing a wider audience all across our district will maximize the impact of the S-FSC. SLOs for the S-FSC component of EDUC1300 are outlined in the table below. The course will incorporate basic science learning skills, science vocabulary study skills as well as instruction regarding scientific data and its presentation in graphs, figures and tables. The course will still cover the traditional EDUC1300 first year success course topics such as learning theories and strategies. However, the career information portion of the course will emphasize science and science-related careers. 32
  37. 37. Houston Community College QEP Objective: Target Population: Student Learning Outcomes: Objective 1.4: Improve student science learning & study skills Science First Year Success Course (S-FSC) students SLO 1.4.a: S-FSC students will demonstrate effective note taking, text annotation, outlining and creation of graphic organizers to aid in the comprehension of scientific information SLO 1.4.b: S-FSC students will demonstrate effective science vocabulary study skills SLO 1.4.c: S-FSC students will be able to interpret scientific information, figures and tables SLO 1.4.d: S-FSC students will demonstrate an understanding of the scientific method The move from GUST 1270 to EDUC 1300 is very important in terms of strengthening students’ basic understanding of learning in more rigorous ways. The course description of EDUC 1300 from the Texas Academic Course Guide Manual is as follows: • A study of the research and theory in the psychology of learning, cognition, and motivation. • Factors that impact learning • Application of learning strategies. Theoretical models of strategic learning, cognition, and motivation serve as the conceptual basis for the introduction of college- level student academic strategies. Students use assessment instruments (e.g., learning inventories) to help them identify their own strengths and weaknesses as strategic learners. Students are ultimately expected to integrate and apply the learning skills discussed across their own academic programs and become effective and efficient learners. Students developing these skills should be able to continually draw from the theoretical models they have learned. The QEP Director and the QEP Steering Committee will create an S-FSC Curriculum Development Team from faculty applicants. This Team will consist of science faculty from biology, chemistry and physics, an EDUC1300 Program Committee member, an Instructional Design Specialist, and a Multimedia/IT Specialist. The S-FSC Curriculum Development Team will be responsible for the development of course materials, exercises and assessments. The S-FSC curriculum will be presented to the Science Program committees and the EDUC Program Committee for approval before piloting in Spring 2014. This will allow thorough completion of the EDUC1300 curriculum, currently under construction by the EDUC1300 Curriculum Committee, before adding the science-based units. It is expected that the Curriculum Development Team members who created the course will pilot it at their respective colleges. Other science instructors who are on the QEP Steering Committee and other QEP committees may also be interested in teaching pilot courses at their colleges. Training will be provided for S-FSC instructors. The QEP Director and all members of the various QEP committees and teams will be expected to publicize existence of the new course to counselors, academic advisors, and high school counselors. The course will be fully developed and offered throughout the district in the fall semester of the fourth year of the QEP. Increasing science course enrollment has created a need for students to be prepared and equipped with science-specific learning and study skills before enrolling in core science courses. Students who complete an S-FSC course will be prepared, and have a solid foundation for future success in science courses. The implementation and assessment timelines and processes for Goal 1 activities are explained in section 8 of this document and detailed in Appendix 9.3. 33
  38. 38. Houston Community College 5.2 Goal 2: Institutionalize real-world, active and collaborative learning in science courses HCC INPIRE will implement real-world problem-based, active and collaborative learning modules to enhance learning and engagement in science courses. QEP GOALS: STRATEGY: OBJECTIVES: GOAL 2: Institutionalize real-world.active and collaborative learning in science courses Eagle Online science modules 1: Develop high quality.comprehensive Eagle Online science learning modules 2: Train science faculty to deliver the Eagle Online modules 3: Implement Eagle Online modules in science courses 4: Improve science student engagement 5: Improve student science content knowledge & science process skills (an SLO- driven objective) According to its mission, HCC offers a high-quality education, facilitates lifelong learning and prepares individuals in HCC’s diverse communities for life and work in a global and technological society. Students must learn to think in increasingly rigorous and complex ways, not only to advance their academic and work careers, but to survive and thrive in our rapidly changing world. HCC’s students indicate a need for connection and application of learning skills to real-world situations. On HCC’s 2010 Community College of Student Engagement Survey (CCSSE), HCC students reported no significant improvement from the previous year in “acquiring job [or work-related knowledge and] skills,” Further, science students expressed a desire for relevance and a real-world connection according to HCC’s QEP Development student survey conducted in June 2011. HCC INSPIRE will reform science education in the classroom to incorporate real world relevance to students. In addition, HCC INSPIRE will address and align science education reform to meet the new state core curriculum objectives targeted for implementation by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in 2014. Real-world problem based instruction allows students to see the correlation between personal experience and the material content. An effective method for instruction is harnessing what the student already knows and building upon it. Effective science educators should strive to make science content relevant to students “real-life” outside of the classroom, so they may make connections between what they already know and what they are learning in class and through the assignments they do outside of class. Many HCC science instructors already incorporate forms of real-world conceptually-oriented tasks into classes, but this has not been done consistently across the district. HCC has nearly 80,000 students across six colleges located on twenty-two campuses. The sheer size and geographical configuration of the school necessitates the need to target high enrollment core curriculum courses for reform. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, HCC INSPIRE will start with implementing user-friendly modules into basic science courses beginning with General Biology I (BIOL 1406), General Chemistry I (CHEM 1411) and College Physics I (PHYS 1401). The modular instruction will be a cost-effective approach to changing the pedagogy in the classroom, allowing many full-time and part-time instructors to unite multiple learning styles with multiple teaching styles. HCC will leverage existing resources and expertise whenever possible (e.g., HCC Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, college Curriculum and Innovation Centers, the HCC Distance Education department, and the Library staff), especially during the beginning phases of the QEP. Due to increased funding of STEM course innovations over the last two decades, particularly by federal granting agencies such as the National Science Foundation and others, there are many excellent module materials available. Some of these incorporate the hallmarks of effective real-world, active and collaborative learning identified in the best-practices research. Further, many of these 34

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