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Hope Honored Nationally For
Approach to Science Education

Posted September 24, 1998

          HOLLAND -- Hope College is one of only 10 liberal
  arts institutions in the nation to be recognized for
  innovation and excellence in science instruction by the
  National Science Foundation (NSF) with an "Award for the
  Integration of Research and Education" (AIRE).
          "These institutions are strengthening the bonds
  between research and education by designing and implementing
  new ways to involve undergraduate students in the process of
  discovery," said Joseph Bordogna, the NSF's acting deputy
  director.  "These new awards help create a discovery-rich
  environment where institutions and their students can
  benefit from making research an essential component of
  college curriculum."
          The 10 recipients will each receive $500,000 over
  the next three years to extend initiatives that they have
  already taken to integrate research and education.  Hope
  will use the funding in four general areas:  expanding
  research experiences in science and mathematics courses;
  providing science research experiences to students who plan
  to become secondary teachers; enabling visiting scholars to
  engage in student-faculty research; and joining with high
  school teachers to explore approaches for both high school
  and college students.
          In describing the AIRE program, the NSF says that
  recipient institutions "have demonstrated exceptional
  leadership, innovation, and achievement in pursuing
  excellence in the integration of research and education."
  Correspondingly, while the college's dean for the natural
  sciences, Dr. James Gentile, values what the award's
  accompanying grant will allow Hope to do, he said that he
  especially appreciates that Hope is on the NSF's "top 10"
  list for research-based learning.
          "It's a strong affirmation that we're on the right
  track," said Gentile, who is also program director for
  projects funded through the grant.  "Even without the money,
  the fact is that somebody gave us a very thorough external
  assessment of our vision for who we are, and of our action
  and performance on that vision, and they concurred with us."
          "This is a reward to the faculty of Hope College,
  past and present.  They're the people who've had the vision,
  they're the people who have acted on the vision and they're
  the people who have sustained the vision," he said.  "It's
  also a recognition of our current and former students, who
  grow from their lessons here into significant careers in the
  sciences."
          The recognition through the NSF's AIRE program
  follows a variety of national accolades for the college's
  science and mathematics program.  In 1994, for example,
  Project Kaleidoscope named the program a "Whole Program That
  Works"--a model for other institutions to emulate.  A 1995
  survey by the Science Citation Index found Hope ranking
  fourth among all liberal arts institutions for the number of
  faculty research publications from 1981 to 1992, and fifth
  overall for the publications' impact.  A report earlier this
  year by Franklin & Marshall College placed Hope 23rd
  nationally among baccalaureate colleges as a source of
  future Ph.D. recipients in the sciences from 1986 to 1995.
          Gentile traces the origins of the division's
  emphasis on blending research and teaching together in
  undergraduate education to two members of the chemistry
  faculty in the middle of the century:  Dr. Gerrit Van Zyl,
  who taught at Hope from 1923 to 1964, and Dr. J. Harvey
  Kleinheksel, who taught from 1928 to 1965.
          "They were the pioneers," he said.  "From their
  initial effort, the approach grew to the position where it
  became more than something that just a few faculty did--it
  became the very fabric of who we are."
          "So, every decision we make--or have made in the
  last 35 to 40 years--has been made with the focus on
  providing opportunities for faculty-student collaborative
  intellectual pursuit, and dovetailing those opportunities
  with the curriculum," Gentile said.
          Dr. George Zuidema, a 1949 Hope graduate who
  majored in biology and chemistry, conducted research with
  Van Zyl as a student.  From Hope, he went on to a career as
  a surgeon and professor of surgery, and served as vice
  provost for medical affairs at the University of Michigan
  from 1984 to 1994.  He continues to appreciate the role that
  Hope's research-oriented approach played in his training.
          "I published my first scientific papers as a
  result of that research and it got me interested in the
  possibility of scientific research as a part of my career,
  and so it had a pretty profound influence," he said.  "I
  learned how to use the library, I learned how to write a
  scientific paper, and I learned the basics of a good
  research project and how to write an abstract."
          By rewarding current successes, Gentile said, the
  AIRE award differs from most external grants, which are
  typically intended for completely new efforts.  "This is
  allowing us to fundamentally underwrite what we are already
  doing and build on it and extend it in different ways," he
  said.
          Where adding more research experiences to Hope
  courses is concerned, the grant will provide funds both to
  enhance existing courses and to develop new ones.  Gentile
  is particularly interested in extending the opportunity to
  participate in research-based learning in the sciences to
  students who aren't science majors, and is hoping to see
  multi-disciplinary courses develop.
          The grant will support three prospective secondary
  teachers each summer in conducting research with members of
  the Hope science faculty.  The goal, Gentile said, is to
  help the students better understand the research process, so
  that they can more effectively use it in their own
  classrooms as teachers.
          The visiting scholars program will model the
  integration of research and teaching for faculty from other
  institutions, to help them use and promote the approach when
  they return home.  The program is geared toward faculty from
  predominantly undergraduate institutions, including
  community colleges.
          The program for current high school teachers will
  include annual conferences that will focus on issues in the
  teaching of science, and workshops on integrating teaching
  and research.  The conferences will bring together high
  school and college teachers from around the country, linking
  people from the same region so that they can continue to
  work together beyond the event itself.  The workshops will
  be geared toward teachers from West Michigan, emphasizing
  ways to use research by members of the Hope faculty in their
  own classrooms.
          Gentile will be guiding the AIRE-supported project
  with two other members of the faculty as co-program
  directors:  Dr. Janet Andersen, who is an associate
  professor of mathematics and co-coordinator of general
  education at Hope, and Dr. Donald Cronkite, who is a
  professor of biology.  All three are recognized nationally
  for their work in science and/or mathematics education.
          Gentile is a member of the Executive Committee of
  Project Kaleidoscope, and is a member of the National
  Research Council Committee on Undergraduate Science
  Education.  Andersen has spent several years exploring the
  teaching of mathematics, work that led to publication of
  "Projects for Precalculus" in 1997, and is currently
  supported through another grant from the NSF.  Cronkite has
  been academic director of the Woodrow Wilson National
  Fellowship Foundation Leadership Institute for Teachers held
  at Princeton University since 1991, and in 1995 received the
  "Four-Year College Biology Teaching Award" from the National
  Association of Biology Teachers.
          In addition to Hope, the institutions chosen to
  receive AIRE grants are:  Coastal Carolina University in
  Conway, S.C.; Colby College in Waterville, Maine; Grinnell
  College in Grinnell, Iowa; Harvey Mudd College in Claremont,
  Calif.; Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio; Occidental College
  in Los Angeles, Calif.; Reed College in Portland, Ore.;
  Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.; and Wellesley College in
  Wellesley, Mass.
                                 -30-
  


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