Thinking Like Leaders: A Systems Approach To Improving Introductory Level Courses Registration Form
A 3-Session Workshop at the 2018 SENCER Summer Institute

Introductory courses in biology and other STEM fields are (or should be) the keystones to recruiting majors to the discipline, improving STEM literacy for both prospective majors and students who will pursue other courses of study, and for preparing future K-12 teachers of STEM. “SENCERizing” such courses could enhance all of these roles. However, instructors may find themselves impeded by their colleagues in a course, other members of a department, or upper level leaders in their efforts to do so. Thus, despite best efforts to improve student learning, components of the higher education system may pose barriers. But understanding the larger system and the sometimes competing needs and interests of the multiplicity of stakeholders within the system may also provide important insights opportunities for education reform.

This workshop is organized in collaboration with the leadership of SENCER, the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), and the Board on Life Sciences of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Thus the systems analyses will use introductory biology as a primary focus but with the recognition that changes to these courses can have profound impacts on other disciplines (and vice versa). Thus the second session will focus on these connections and interactions.

The draft schedule for the workshop below. Because the individual sessions in these workshops build on each other, participants will be required to enroll prior to the SSI and attend all three sessions. The workshop organizers will contact all registrants prior to the SSI and request information that will help them better tailor the workshop to participants’ interests and needs. Several short background readings may be assigned.

Learning Goals: This series of integrated sessions will explore the following issues and topics (subject to modification based upon participant feedback – see below):

Session 1 (August 3; 3:00 – 4:50 PM, O’Connor 206):
Welcome, introductions, agree on goals, work and desired outcomes of the workshop.
-Jay Labov, Senior Advisor for Education and Communication (Retired), National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
-Eliza Reilly, Executive Director, SENCER

Facilitated Discussion: Participants describe challenges to their efforts to SENCERize their courses and how they have addressed them (both successfully and unsuccessfully)
Overview of NABT’s and related efforts to reform introductory courses in biology.
-NABT Introductory Biology Taskforce: Steve Christenson, Chair, Department of Biology, Brigham Young University of Idaho
-National Perspectives on Improving Introductory STEM Courses: Gordon Uno, Professor of Plant Biology, University of Oklahoma

-Based on participant discussion, engage them in analyzing and better understanding
-Presentation and Facilitated Discussion: The larger system of higher education at their institutions and at the state and federal levels
George Boggs, President Emeritus, Palomar College, and President and CEO Emeritus, American Association of Community Colleges

Panel Discussion: the pressures facing stakeholders in different parts of the system and how understanding those pressures can help address challenges.
-George Boggs
-Steve Christenson
-David Ferguson, Provost's Scholar, Stony Brook University
-Theo Koupelis, Dean of Academic Affairs, Broward College
-Karen Oates, Worcester Polytechnic University

Session 2 (August 4, 8:00-9:50 AM, O’Connor 206):
Examine the interconnectedness of introductory biology to other disciplines in STEM as well as the arts and humanities from a systems perspective (facilitated case study)
-Bruce Alberts (Professor, UC San Francisco, Former President of NAS and Editor-in-Chief of Science
-David Ferguson (Engineering)
-Matt Fisher, Professor of Chemistry, St. Vincent College (Chemistry)
-Theo Koupelis (Physics)
-Cathy Middlecamp, Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison (Environmental Science and Chemistry)
-Eliza Reilly

-Explore the roles and consequences of offering different introductory courses in STEM disciplines for prospective majors and non-majors: a systems approach.
-Bruce Alberts
-Jay Labov
-Karen Oates

Session 3 (August 5, 2:00 – 3:50 PM, O‘Connor 206):
-Develop a “systems-informed” plan to address the challenges that they are facing on their campuses and then work in groups to review and offer suggestions for improving the plan.
Small group discussions facilitated by presenters and panelists.

-Reports from Small Groups and Summary
-Moderated by Jay Labov and Eliza Reilly

-How do we organize to move these efforts forward across disciplines and institutions?

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Why do you want to participate in this workshop, and what to do you hope to take away from it? (please limit to 100 words or fewer)
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