K-12 Programs



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Dr. Virginia McDonough and Dr. Greg Fraley, Department of Biology, Research: General Biology

The Biology Department has embarked on an exciting curriculum reform that will reduce the current three-semester introductory biology sequence down to two semesters. The lab portion of the class, the focus of this proposal, will combine elements of “traditional” biology lab along with innovative research experiences. The lab course will be broken down into five modules, each focused on a different biological area; Ecology, Organismal Biology (Plant and Animal units), Molecular Genetics, Cell Biology, and Evolution. The course has been approved by the Curriculum Committee (Fall 2012) and is scheduled to begin in Fall 2013. Our overall goal with the laboratory component of General Biology is to cultivate critical thinking through structured multi-week lab modules that revolve around a theme or research question. Students will apply current concepts and techniques to real world problems by asking the most effective questions, formulating hypotheses, collecting and analyzing data, and interpreting results. The modules are designed in such a way that there is a natural connection between disciplines within Biology for students to explore the multidisciplinary nature of biological studies. We are confident that by using the strengths of concentrated five-week modules, along with a clear connection between lecture and lab, we will not only be able to prepare students for further study in biology, but also engage them in a unique way that will facilitate a higher level of learning and understanding, which will help solve problems we face as a global society. In this proposal, we are requesting support for two students to work over the summer to perform and evaluate the labs, identify trouble areas, and design solutions. Students will also be composing a “teaching manual” to help in future preparations of the lab. Students will be working directly with Drs. McDonough and Fraley on the project.

Dr. Katharine Polasek and Susan Brown, Department of Engineering, Research: Intro to Engineering

Attracting and retaining women in engineering must start with students even before they enter an engineering program. Best practices indicate that the most successful programs involve providing these women students with female mentors and role models, creating a sense of community in the profession, and providing early exposure to real-life applications. Through this project, we propose to create a cohort of first-year women engineering students and involve them in these best practice activities. This cohort will be identified in the spring to be enrolled in common sections of the required first year Introduction to Engineering course, ENGS 100. Prior to orientation, the cohort will participate in a series of webinars focused on community building and introduction to the program, including discussion of a real-world engineering design project that the group will implement during the fall semester. During the school year, portions of the ENGS 100 course will be replaced by work on the design project. Through exposure to initial cohortbuilding opportunities, real-world engineering problems, and female mentors, we aim to increase the retention and attraction of female engineering students in the department.

Dr. Brian Yurk and Dr. Airat Bekmetjev, Department of Mathematics, Research: FYS/Stats

We propose to develop a research-focused course that combines statistics and FYS for talented students that have taken AP Statistics. A major goal of this course is to create cohorts of experienced students that are well-prepared to participate in statistics-oriented research programs on campus. Additionally, by inviting students early in the spring, this course will serve as an important recruiting tool that will attract students with strong academic potential in statistics to Hope. The proposed course will engage students in real research activities throughout the course, beginning with a three-day, pre-semester intensive research experience. During this time, students will design and implement an experiment (facilitated using a guided inquiry approach) and begin to collect and analyze data using their skillset from their AP Statistics course. Data collected in this and follow-up experiments will then be used throughout the course as new statistical concepts are introduced. This will make the students an integral part of the actual research process and allow them to use their statistical knowledge in an applied context. Along with this, students will read primary literature on the history and philosophy of the scientific method and the applications of statistics, and discuss the readings in class. The research experiences will provide important context for these discussions. The course will culminate in end-of semester research projects in which the students will act like practicing applied statisticians—identifying an important research question that is of interest to a group on campus, fully analyzing a data set, making recommendations about future experimental design, and presenting the results. The students will present these projects at the Research Celebration the following spring.

Dr. Lorna Hernandez-Jarvis and Dr. Mary Inman, Department of Psychology, Introduction to Psychology Projects

We would like to redesign the 1-credit Introduction to Psychology Projects course to be an online course. The course introduces students to research in social sciences in particular in psychology. The entire course involves engagement with research. Three main research projects are conducted, and observation project, a survey/correlational research project, and an experiment. Students engage in developing hypotheses, operational definitions of variables, data collection, data analysis interpretation, and writing research reports. We would like to redesign all these projects so that they can be done on line. The course will serve many students (potentially as many as 50-60 per year) who come to Hope College with psychology AP credit but need the hands-on quantitative research experience required in the General Education program and in the Psychology major. It will also serve students who transfer in 3 credits of introduction to psychology course taken at other institutions. The course will be taught in the summer as an online course. Members of the psychology department will rotate teaching it. Teaching this course on line during the summer allows members of the psychology department to teach this course without having to teach an overload during the academic year. The course has been taught during the academic year for the past 5 years by three faculty members as an overload. This model is no longer sustainable. Thus, the department supports the idea of re-designing this course as an online summer course.


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