DBER Seminars

klymkowsky and nobel laureate at dber related eventDBER is a weekly Seminar Series that emphasizes discipline-based STEM education research. It is a forum for faculty, staff, researchers, and students interested in education research and course transformation to share their ideas and get feedback on their work.

DBER is multi-disciplinary. These seminars bring together faculty and graduate students from roughly 45 different programs and departments across four schools/colleges. The average attendance is more than 20 people. In addition to being intellectually rich, these meetings also serve to create community among the many STEM education researchers on campus. All are welcome to attend.


For the Spring 2017 semester, DBER will be held on Wednesdays from 3-4 pm in Porter Bio B121.


For questions about DBER, to suggest a speaker, or to inquire about presenting yourself, please contact Andrew Martin @ andrew.martin-1@colorado.edu.


To receive notifications of DBER events and emails from the DBER community, you can:

Self-Subscribe online

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Request subscription via email by sending an email to: csl@colorado.edu


2017 Spring DBER Schedule:

Jan 18 Valerie Otero, Ian Her Many Horses, Laurie Langdon
(International Learning Assistant Alliance)
"Pre/Post Assessment Made Easy"
The Learning About STEM Student Outcomes (LASSO) System allows instructors to measure and analyze learning outcomes with the click of a button. The system administers the assessment (and associated consent forms) to students along with a short survey that will allow for disaggregation and analysis of the data. Instructors can download a spreadsheet with their courses results and they can also download analyzed results and graphs showing their learning gains and effect sizes. There are 11 assessments that have undergone application, evaluation, and validation in Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics. Participants will be introduced to the system and guided through the process of signing up their courses. We will also present some findings from studies done with increasing national data set.
Jan 25  
Feb 1 Jenny Knight (MCDB)
"Student reasoning and problem solving in genetics."
Can students transfer in-class group practices to individual assessment opportunities that require reasoning and logic? To find out, we have begun to study how students independently solve complex problems on genetics. We have conducted think-aloud interviews to capture the processes students use in problem solving, as well as performance data from online administration of the same problems. I will discuss both our strategy for measuring whether students improve at problem solving with practice, and for characterizing whether certain problem solving steps or strategies correlate with correct vs. incorrect answers. This work is preliminary, and I welcome your feedback throughout the presentation.
Feb 8 Bilge Birsoy (MCDB), Mike Klymkowsky (MCDB)

"Development of a Scientific and Experimental Literacy Assessment (SELA) Instrument"

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We have designed a new upper-division discovery-based laboratory course to increase some aspects of scientific and experimental literacy by providing "authentic scientific experiences" to engage students and increase their understanding of the process of science, core concepts in Molecular and Developmental Biology, experimental design and controls and get them to value science and its contributions to society.

I will begin with summarizing our discussion from my previous DBER presentation, about what it means to be scientifically literate. I will then move on to describe our approach to increase and assess scientific literacy, focusing initially on my observations of students' failure to retrieve or apply their content knowledge, failure to correctly justify their answers and their struggle to see the forest for the trees.


Feb 15 Mark Werner (ASSETT), Sarah Wise (EBIO), Andy Martin (EBIO)
"Shine Like an OPLE and be COPUS-etic with ASSETT’s VIP Service"
We can no longer afford to measure teaching by reviewing results from the faculty course questionnaire and an occasional peer observation. Good teachers—like experts in any endeavor—need more frequent input and feedback on their performance, time to reflect on it, and plans for improving their teaching. Arts and Sciences Support for Education Through Technology (ASSETT) has launched the Visualization of Instructional Practices (VIP) service to provide teachers with a method of input and feedback on their teaching. This service lets teachers choose a descriptive protocol that fits their situation. Examples include the Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS), or the Observation Protocol for Learning Environments (OPLE). Students are then dispatched to their classrooms and use that protocol to record what they observe happening in the class. After several observations are conducted, the data are visualized and shared with the teachers. Consultants are available to meet with teachers to give them ideas for interpreting the results. In this presentation, we will help participants become familiar with the process we use in our VIP service. We will start by guiding participants in collecting COPUS observation data from a video clip of a teacher, and then we will visualize the data. We will facilitate a discussion on questions related to variability in observational data, limitations to consider, and useful applications. We will discuss differences between methods of providing feedback on teaching. We will also share about the ASSETT VIP service and how you can use it to gain formative input on your teaching practice.
Feb 22 Rebecca Machen (Program Coordinator, SASC)
"An Intervention for a High-Risk Course"
Precalculus (MATH-1150) will become the first course in CU’s STEM-major sequence starting Fall 2017, as College Algebra and Trigonometry will no longer be taught after Spring 2017. Data from the last ten years of instruction show that Precalculus has a DFW rate of a 31%, which designates it as a high-risk course. Since Precalculus is becoming the gateway course for many STEM majors, with yearly enrollments exceeding 700 students, the Math Department faculty decided to be proactive and support its students by implementing a supplemental course, MATH-1151. The 1-credit course was created in collaboration with the Student Academic Success Center and is designed with metacognitive activities built upon the Banks' Five Dimensions of Multicultural Education. At this presentation, I will share the course’s goals, structure, teaching pedagogy, results, and implications for future courses on campus.
Mar 1 Stephanie Chasteen (Physics), Mark Connoly (Wisconsin Center for Education Research)

"Theory of Change:  Being explicit about our change processes in STEM education to build better interventions"

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Theories of Change - Online PDF

In many of our educational innovations, we have some assumptions about how certain actions (say, an after-school program, or incorporation of learning assistants into a course) will result in the desired change or outcome (e.g., increased learning).  However, we often fail to explicitly articulate why our chosen strategies will achieve the change that we want.  This can be done through a “Theory of Change,” which lays bare the assumptions and guiding principles of an intervention.  In today’s working meeting we will discuss what a “Theory of Change” is, why it’s important for programs (and to the NSF!).   We will be joined virtually by Mark Connolly of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, who will place the idea of Theory of Change in the broader context, and talk about some examples from analysis of recent NSF awards.  I will talk about how I have used Theory of Change to develop evaluation for a national teacher education program.  Then, we’ll give you some practicing in articulating your own Theory of Change.

See attached for a white paper on Theory of Change by Mark Connolly and (our own) Elaine Seymour.

Mar 8 Andrew Shtulman, (Cognitive Science and Psychology at Occidental College), and Erin Furtak (School of Education, C&I: Math & Science Education).
"The Conceptual and Epistemic Obstacles to Understanding Science."  
Three decades of research in cognitive development and science education has revealed that students enter the science classroom with rich, though generally inaccurate, theories of everyday phenomena that often interfere with learning. I will present research suggesting that these “intuitive” theories are never truly replaced by scientific theories but rather coexist with them, shaping the kinds of inferences we make, the kinds of explanations we endorse, and the kinds of information we accept as true. While adults with extensive science education are typically able to discriminate between scientific and non-scientific claims, they are slower to make those discriminations for claims that are inconsistent with their intuitive theories, and they justify the endorsement of scientific claims by appealing to intuition and authority rather than theory and evidence. Our understanding of science may thus be constrained by patterns of reasoning that emerge in childhood but persist long thereafter.
Mar 15 DBER Group at large
"Student assessment of teaching: Part 2"  
There is a process underway to revise the FCQ tool; the pilot will run again in the spring...do we want to play a role in what happens? Do we want a better tool? We have some data that can serve as a launch pad for a productive discussion about the why, how and what of an authentic FCQ tool.
Mar 22 Rachael Deagman (English)
"Shakespeare CoLab"  
We often associate learning labs with the sciences or with languages.  This talk will introduce CU’s Shakespeare CoLab:  a unique digital learning environment connected to Shakespeare for Non-majors (taken by your students!), our new Applied Shakespeare Certificate program, and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.  
Now we’d like to explore how your unit might partner with us to create a campus-wide, thoroughly interdisciplinary project.  
Mar 29 Spring Break, No DBER
Apr 5 Jennifer Stempien (Geology)
"Creating a collaborative undergraduate geoscience research community"   

Research shows that undergraduate student participation in authentic research opportunities (ARO) enhances persistence in STEM fields by strengthening student perceptions of themselves as scientists. Longitudinal studies show that students who participated in an ARO, including members of underrepresented groups, were 14-17% more likely to persist in STEM fields on to graduate school compared with their colleagues who did not. However, these same studies pointed out that, despite the benefits of undergraduate research, the designs of many such research programs have shortcomings that can inhibit wider student participation or even reduce student persistence in the sciences.


A unique ARO design is currently being piloted within the Department of Geological Sciences that combines the benefits of the faculty-student mentoring and apprenticeship characteristics of an Undergraduate Research Experience with the peer mentoring and guided literature discussion of a Course Undergraduate Research Experience as a collaborative multi-semester undergraduate research community. Undergraduate students participating in the ARO will: 1) conduct independent but interrelated research projects under a large-scale question and  2) participate in a 1-credit research seminar that will place each student’s project into a broader scientific context by exploring the scientific literature and that will promote each student’s role as a peer mentor and collaborator in answering a larger research question.  Students are recruited who are at different stages of their career so that the younger students can benefit not only from faculty mentoring, but can also learn from their undergraduate ‘elders’.   We will discuss the currently model used in this effort and the preliminary results and student attitudes about the project.

Apr 12 Lisa Corwin (EBIO)
"Discussion of disciplinary differences in Course Based Undergraduate Research Experiences."

Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) are spreading and being scaled to accommodate more students across the nation. As they expand and gain recognition, more disciplines are seeking to adopt this innovation and make it their own. Thus far, much of the work to define CUREs and explore CURE design has been spearheaded by biologists and chemists who have applied CUREs to their disciplines. For example, a group that defined what they see as five essential CURE elements consisted primarily of researchers from chemistry and biology. Yet, the “essential elements” of research-based experiences that result in desired outcomes for undergraduates may vary by discipline, or even by sub-discipline, since the research goals of each discipline vary. 

I would like to engage the DBER community in a discussion of if and how the essential elements of research-based courses might vary by discipline. For example, during DBER I would like us to explore if a Physics CURE should seek to incorporate different elements than a Biology CURE. I hope that we can have a lively discussion of how research in our disciplines varies and what experiences and outcomes might result from involving students in course-based research in different disciplines. 

Apr 19  
Apr 26 Andrew Martin (EBIO)
"Quantifying learning gains for collaboration"
We used a combination of observation, network analysis, and two-stage exams to estimate gains in a difficult to assess learning goal: "productively collaborate towards common goals". There will be a brief description of the context, a little bit about the course (Intro to Quantitative Thinking EBIO 1010, also known as IQUIT), a mock two stage exam (with two questions), and a march through some results for the purpose of stimulating discussion about meaning and value. The work was funded by a CSL Chancellor's fellowship.
May 3 Cheryl Pinzone (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Continuing Education)
"Modes of Thinking: Getting Students to Think About Their Thinking in the Context of a Controversial Topic"  
The ability to apply scientific thinking is essential to navigate the world effectively and decipher between valid and invalid claims (such as the false link between vaccines and autism). Many topics are controversial, in part, due to strong beliefs based on visceral emotional reactions. When closely held viewpoints are challenged, rather than relying on scientific evidence, analytical thinking may be overridden in favor for more intuitive forms of thinking such as emotional, theistic, and pseudoscientific thinking.

In an effort to bring awareness to these thinking patterns and encourage engagement with scientific thinking, we developed a lesson to have students identify and evaluate their own thinking, and analytically compare their thinking with that of the general population about acceptance of evolution (in general, and specifically about humans).

We will discuss the lesson and explore other ways in which student scientific literacy and metacognitive ability can be strengthened in light of common pitfalls in thinking (including motivated reasoning). 


Archive of Past DBER Seminars