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Whether it's the busy mother who spends her weekend volunteering at a local women's shelter or the young girl raising money for hungry children thousands of miles away with her lemonade stand - women that do good deeds are everywhere.
The University of Arizona is helping to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, as one of just eight sites in the United States chosen to participate in a major national STEM education initiative.
In June 2013, the Association of American Universities announced that the UA and seven other project sites would receive grant funding through the AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative, which was established to address a nationwide demand to improve STEM education and to retain more majors and expand the workforce in STEM fields.
Since then, the UA has made important progress with course redesigns and faculty programs intended to make STEM teaching and learning more engaging.
"We need more STEM majors," said Gail Burd, UA senior vice provost for academic affairs and a principal investigator on the UA's AAU grant. "A lot of evidence points to a loss of students from STEM majors because of the way they're being taught. These are hard subjects, and if it's not engaging and it's hard, students drift away."
Under the AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative, which is funded by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, the UA established the UA-AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Project — a comprehensive, interdisciplinary effort intended to expand STEM-related collaborations, curricula and funding opportunities.
Funded through 2016, the UA-AAU STEM Project saw a number of successes in its first year.
Course redesigns promote active learning
Under the leadership of John Pollard, the UA's director of general chemistry, andVicente A. Talanquer, a chemistry and biochemistry professor, a foundational UA chemistry course has been restructured to more actively engage students.
The redesigned "Chemical Thinking" course, in development for three years, debuted this fall to more than 2,400 students in general chemistry, course 151. It incorporates more group-based discussions, problem-solving activities and other forms of active engagement, with less than 10 minutes of the hourlong class devoted to traditional lecture.
Students in an earlier pilot of the course reported better information retention and overall satisfaction with the redesigned course compared to traditional chemistry classes. This fall, four additional instructors are teaching general chemistry using the revamped curriculum for the first time.
"We are working to understand challenges and successes these new faculty might have to implementing the new curriculum with more active and engaged instructional approaches," Burd said.
Modeled after the chemistry course's success, a similar redesign is being introduced in a foundational UA biology class this semester. Meanwhile, the University's introductory course in computer programming for engineering applications has been restructured to include lab time and to emphasize student participation.
New instructional approaches also were introduced in a pilot general physics course last spring, with students reporting positive results in learning outcomes. A redesign also is in the works for the UA's introductory chemical engineering course.
Learning communities, workshops encourage teaching differently
As part of the effort to make STEM classes more engaging, the University has launched professional development opportunities intended to get instructors to think about teaching in new ways.
About 30 STEM faculty members participated in Faculty Learning Communities last year, in which they were tasked to come up with two weeklong engagement activities to teach in their classrooms each semester.
The University also launched a series of "Teaching Talks" and a three-hour workshop, specifically geared toward STEM educators on campus.
"The goal is to stretch beyond those five redesigned introductory courses and change the culture around the way we're teaching all STEM courses," Burd said.
Additional workshops and talks will take place in the coming year, including a daylong workshop with an architect and an expert on learning spaces that will look at how faculty can make the best use of physical spaces to make them more engaging.
As part of that workshop, Pollard will spend a week or two teaching in a nontraditional space — a redesigned journal reading room in the Science and Engineering Library.
As the UA continues to forge new territory in STEM education, it is carefully tracking and analyzing its efforts to determine their effectiveness. Postdoctoral student Jonathan Coxis helping to lead that ongoing assessment, beginning with the redesigned general chemistry course, Burd said. Jane Hunter, an associate professor of practice in the UA's Office of Instruction and Assessment, also has joined the AAU project to provide project support and management.
Other goals for the UA-AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Project, Burd said, include establishing a teaching symposium and developing and expanding teaching awards that recognize and financially reward outstanding STEM educators on campus.
In addition to Burd, the UA-AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Project leaders include co-principal investigators Deb Tomanek, associate vice provost for instruction and assessment; Lisa Elfring, associate professor of molecular and cellular biology; andVicente Talanquer, professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
The AAU is a nonprofit organization of 62 leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada. The 60 AAU universities in the United States award more than half of all U.S. doctoral degrees and 55 percent of those in the sciences and engineering.
(NewsUSA) - A growing list of leading wineries, including St. Francis, Bogle and Fetzer, are speaking up about the benefits of using natural cork. They recognize that not only does natural cork allow wines to age perfectly, but using natural cork also provides a potential competitive advantage when it comes to marketing their wine brands.
One of the most exciting parts of building a new home is the opportunity to put your own stamp on it. From flooring and lighting to appliances and countertops, there certainly is no shortage of choices available when the time comes to select the perfect balance of colors, textures and finishes that reflect your taste.
Justice hasn’t been served so effectively on the streets since Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty” Harry Callahan character snuffed out punk killers in the early 1970s. Liam Neeson, in his most weighty film role yet, quietly and confidently leads this suspense thriller based off of the bestselling crime novel series by Lawrence Block.
Although their methods and locations have changed, the focus of A.C.M.E.stuDio has remained constant. To provide opportunities to people with special needs and to bring art to might not otherwise be exposed to it.
(BPT) - From the best skylines to the worst drivers, the list of distinctions bestowed upon cities is endless; but it’s the honor of hairiest havens that will have people scratching their chins.
(BPT) - The first months of the school year are full of new lessons and experiences for children. While subjects like history, science and math aim to prepare kids for college and careers, there’s one vitally important educational goal that falls to parents to fulfill – financial education.
Dr. Daniel L. Kester is Pima Community College’s Director of Veterans and Military Affiliated Services.
Patricia Haynes in the UA College of Medicine has been awarded $3.1 million to study the relationship between unemployment and putting on pounds.
(NAPSI)—According to recent data, whole grain breads are flying off the shelves and into homes more than ever before. Why the surge? One reason may be that consumers are becoming more aware of the health benefits of whole grains. The superstars—and superfoods—of the whole grain family are ancient grains and seeds, which date back to when our ancestors lived off the land.
(NAPSI)—For many, the decision to have a child may very well be the biggest and most fulfilling decision they will make. And after the decision is made to start a family, future parents often discover that planning for the baby’s future can be a daunting task. Which car seat will they use? How will they babyproof the house? Which schools will the child attend?
(BPT) - If you have children and grandchildren, you have no doubt made it your goal to provide guidance, pass on your personal knowledge and build a foundation that ensures their comfort and security. You probably started by teaching your children early on how they could save money, shop wisely and make sound financial decisions. You won’t always be around to offer new lessons, but there is a way you can ensure that your family will be protected.
New board leadership is in place for the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce, and new board members have been seated.
Three Mountain View football players have been held out of action while the Arizona Interscholastic Association continues to investigate allegations of improper conduct. The case was discussed during an executive session of the regularly scheduled AIA meeting last week.
Demand for houses in Maricopa and Pinal counties declined in July compared to the same month of 2013, but that shouldn’t be read as a sign of another housing bubble, according to a report by Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.
Reflecting on their time as undergraduate students, three University of Arizona Regents' Professors say that collaborative work is underrated, humanities and history courses are indeed valuable, and mistakes can be a great teacher.
That’s just some of the wisdom imparted by Diana Liverman, Regents' Professor of Geography and Development and co-director of the UA Institute of the Environment, who is currently on sabbatical; Toni Massaro, Dean Emerita of the UA James E. Rogers College of Law; and Pierre Meystre, a Regents' Professor of Physics and Optical Sciences and director of the UA Biosphere 2 Institute. UA alumni also talk about their experiences and share advice in "Career After College: Alumni Share Tips for New Students."
Q: What tips would you share with today's students to help them succeed in the academic environment?
Liverman (left): Try to turn up to most of your classes and spend some of the time listening to what's being said instead of taking notes on your computer or checking social media. In smaller classes, ask questions, and never begin your comment with “This is probably a stupid question but ...” Remember, there really are no stupid questions! Go to exam study sessions and form study groups.
Massaro (right): Make your academic ends the first priority. A lot of things are available in college that are exciting and important to the experience: making new friends, exploring autonomy, balancing school and social life. But the classroom and academic work should be your first priorities in order to make the most of the opportunity to grow intellectually.
Meystre: Embrace your ignorance. Learn to be comfortable with not knowing the answer, but then don't stop until you have it figured out. Don't be afraid to ask questions, even simple questions. Questions that may seem simple can lead to profound answers. And chances are that others don't know, either, and will be happy that somebody asks — or they will know the answer, and then they'll be able to help you. Also, be open to unexpected opportunities and challenges.
Q: What do you wish you had known when you were a freshman?
Liverman: That so many opportunities would open up for me as an environmentalist and woman during my lifetime. When I was a freshman, there were no “green” careers, and it was tough for a woman to succeed in the environmental arena. Second, that working in a group — rather than competing — can help you be a success. And third, that I didn't have to find a husband my first year at college (that's what my grandmother thought I should be focusing on). It is much more fun to look around, travel the world and find someone later.
Meystre (left): That one should not be afraid to make mistakes. Being overly cautious can be paralyzing, and one often learns more from failures than from success. And for a curious mind, what can possibly be more boring and uninteresting than having things run just as expected?
Q: What would you have done differently?
Liverman: I would do study abroad. I would do internships and/or volunteer for local environmental or other organizations. I would take more science.
Meystre: I don’t think much about that. I don't find it particularly useful to obsess about "missed opportunities." We have just one ride and may as well enjoy it.
Q: What turned out to be your best move?
Liverman: Helping a visiting professor with her research one summer. She then invited me to take a master’s degree with her in Canada.
Massaro: Taking Bergen Evans' world literature course. A Northwestern classic, and the best course I took in college. And then choosing law school for my graduate work.
Meystre: Picking a great field of study. Physics is extraordinarily beautiful and exciting. It challenges you at every turn and always hits you with new surprises, with profound questions ranging from the origin of the universe to the nature of reality, and with practical applications that can have a significant societal impact.
Q: What was your most career-determining stroke of luck or serendipitous event?
Liverman: Getting an internship at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and persuading climate scientist Stephen Schneider to supervise me. He set me on my path to becoming a researcher, mentored me for many subsequent opportunities.
Massaro: A conversation with an undergraduate professor my senior year of college telling me "You ought to go to law school," even though she had been steering me to her own graduate/Ph.D. program the previous three years. Her shift helped me take the big leap professionally (and personally). And then, at the end of law school, two professors encouraged me to apply for a law-teaching job after my time in practice. I was extremely fortunate to have teachers who took such a keen interest in all of their students.
Meystre: There are too many to count. Most lucky perhaps was picking a specialization that was not very fashionable at the time but that turned out to become very hot, and also being at the right place at the right time.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
Liverman: You will make the most amazing friends in college who will see you through all the ups and downs of life. Look for ways to meet new people, not always like you, and it will change your life.
Massaro: Make the most of this moment, knock on your teachers' doors and enjoy your classmates. They can be your best teachers, too. Raise your hand. Be curious. Then "pay it forward" by helping others with their studies or volunteering in the community. There is no better way to learn than to teach others.
Meystre: Don't forget to have fun. If you don't, maybe you are not doing what you should be doing.
Diana Liverman's expertise and research interests focus on the human dimensions of environmental change, connecting earth and social sciences to understand challenges of drought and climate change, climate policy, climate change communication, food security, land use and international environmental governance. Liverman has advised a wide range of government committees, non-governmental organizations and businesses on climate issues. The first woman to serve in the position, Toni Massaro is also one of the longest-serving UA deans in recent history. Massaro, who holds the Milton O. Riepe Chair in Constitutional Law, has been with the college since 1989 and is an expert in civil procedure and constitutional law. And originally from Switzerland, Pierre Meystre, who joined the UA in 1986, has developed theory that has profoundly influenced all aspects of quantum optics, according to Nobel Prize winners in that field. He was named Regents' Professor in 2002.
(NAPSI)—Sickle cell disease involves abnormally shaped red blood cells that reduce the flow of blood inside the blood vessels. It is inherited, the same way people inherit the color of their eyes, skin and hair. In the United States, it’s estimated that sickle cell disease affects up to 100,000 people, mostly African American. And while sickle cell disease causes severe pain and other complications, with the right treatment and care, it’s possible for most people with sickle cell disease to live normal, active lives. Here’s what you need to know about sickle cell disease, the populations that are most affected, and how to best manage it and stay as healthy as possible:
The American dream of homeownership is alive and well, just as it was before the housing crisis hit. Despite the extreme fallout from the Great Recession, people still want a place to call their own. A place where they can raise a family, make memories and live comfortably. And, while purchasing a new home provides tremendous opportunity for families looking to improve their lives, the implications are even greater to the economy as a whole.
There is something for everyone at this year’s Southern Arizona Home Builder’s Association (SAHBA) Fall Home & Garden Show happening Friday, Oct.17 through Sunday, Oct. 19 at the Tucson Convention Center (TCC).
The Environmental Protection Agency set new limits Wednesday on emissions from six Arizona industrial facilities in order to reduce haze at 17 national parks and wilderness areas, including the Grand Canyon.
Students in Arizona State University residence halls arrived to see posters urging them to call 911 if they see someone who is unconscious. Other posters ask, “Who is the designated driver tonight?”
(NAPSI)—Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common condition that affects nearly 1 in 3 Americans. In addition to following a healthy diet and lifestyle, many people living with the condition are prescribed daily medication to control their hypertension and heart failure and will need long-term access to this important class of medicine.