2019 Rutgers Active Learning Symposium

The Rutgers Active Learning Symposium (RALS) is an annual day of discussions, presentations, poster sessions, and workshops relating to various topics in active learning. It serves as an opportunity for faculty and staff at Rutgers and beyond to come together to share and learn pedagogic practices in this exciting area. The 2019 RALS took place on Wednesday May 22nd in Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering on Rutgers-NB's Busch Campus in Piscataway, NJ.  For more information on each session, including summaries and relevant materials, click on each topic below. 

Sessions

Keynote Presentation - Modeling Instruction: A Transformative Way to Experience Content

Idaykis Rodriguez

keynoteActive learning pedagogies have been found to be more effective than lecture approaches. Modeling Instruction in University Physics is an evidence-based, active learning, student-centered, curricula that transforms the way students experience STEM content. Focused around doing science, students engage in cooperative group learning, whole-class discussion, and develop theoretical models of physical phenomena with little to no lecture time. This talk focused on explaining how to create an introductory physics experience that is culturally sensitive and inclusive of students that are traditionally under-represented minorities in STEM and transforming students conceptions of physics. At Florida International University, a majority Hispanic Serving Institution, Modeling Instruction has been practiced for the last 15 years, where in the last five years, Modeling Instruction is scaled to large 100-person classes. The success of Modeling Instruction is reflected in a 14% difference in student conceptual understanding as measured by the standardized diagnostics when compared to lecture courses, a 6.73 times greater odds of success, and an equally likely survival rate for Modeling Instruction students that become physics majors to succeed in their upper level program when compared to lecture students. The general success of this course has led to a rethink and redesign of STEM experiences for students that are tailored to their educational and individual needs.

ida-rodriguezDr. Rodriguez holds a doctorate degree in physics with specialization in Discipline Based Education Research. As a Physics Instructor in Florida International University’s STEM Transformation Institute she teaches a reformed student-centered introductory physics course using Modeling Instruction Curriculum. Dr. Rodriguez also conducts research on the effectiveness of reformed STEM courses on student individual performance and affective measures. Her particular research interest span the intersection of students’and cultural identity and the perceived culture of higher education enacted in active learning STEM classrooms. She has various peer-reviewed publications featuring her expertise in both qualitative and quantitative research methodology.

Resources

Keynote Workshop - Students as Drivers for Course Design

Idaykis Rodriguez

keynoteBringing authentic STEM practices to the classroom benefits all members of the classroom environment, as students have the opportunity to develop their understanding from peers and expert faculty and can be motivated towards academic and career success. Intentionally taking into account student experiences and backgrounds can be used as a powerful tool to design unique classroom environments and empower students to succeed in STEM courses.  In this interactive workshop, participants explored how to leverage students’ strengths for their classroom design process.

ida-rodriguezDr. Rodriguez holds a doctorate degree in physics with specialization in Discipline Based Education Research. As a Physics Instructor in Florida International University’s STEM Transformation Institute she teaches a reformed student-centered introductory physics course using Modeling Instruction Curriculum. Dr. Rodriguez also conducts research on the effectiveness of reformed STEM courses on student individual performance and affective measures. Her particular research interest span the intersection of students’and cultural identity and the perceived culture of higher education enacted in active learning STEM classrooms. She has various peer-reviewed publications featuring her expertise in both qualitative and quantitative research methodology.

Resources

30 Minute Materials Mystery!

Jonathan Singer, Marissa Tousley, Michael Grzenda, Molla Hasan

3-minute-material-masteryVirtual Research Group (VRG) modules are designed to simulate the investigative aspects of the research process while incorporating peer-learning, project ownership, and diverse role models, without any laboratory and minimal computational resources. This is accomplished by synthesizing past research into datasets that simulate the research experience. The presenters have implemented a VRG pilot based on VRG based on polymer science in two distinct environments: (1) as a 12-hour course in a summer program for scientifically-motivated high school rising seniors and (2) as an aspect of a full materials science course for chemical engineering sophomores and juniors. In this workshop, attendees participated in a miniature activity based on these pilots where participants were divided into three groups of "specialists" who will conducted a 10-minute training in their specialty and then split into several groups composed of one of each specialist to apply their new skills towards the solution of a materials mystery using only the data provided.

Prof. Jonathan P. Singer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His research considers the translation of micro/nanostructured materials into mass manufacturing. He has been developing active learning methods for scientific education throughout his academic career, and in recognition of his education and mentoring efforts, he was the recipient of the 2008 Penn Prize for Teaching by a Graduate Student, a 2014 Yale Scientific Teaching Fellowship, and, most recently, the 2019 Engineering Governing Council Students' Professor of the Year, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He received his BS and MS from the University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all in Materials Science and Engineering.

Dr. Marissa Tousley is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a teaching-focused undergraduate institution specializing in STEM education. She teaches courses in materials science, thermodynamics, and heat and mass transfer and works with undergraduate students on research projects related to polymer thin films. Marissa received a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Alfred University and a Ph.D. in Chemical and Environmental Engineering from Yale University.

Michael Grzenda grew up in Middlesex County, NJ. After leaving to earn his bachelors degree at the University of Delaware, he returned to attend Rutgers University in the Fall of 2017. Recently Michael has been writing up his master's thesis on graphene polymer composites while he begins working on his PhD research developing biomimetic coatings for deep sea drones.

Dr. Molla Hasan is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Rutgers University. Currently, Dr. Hasan is working on a collaborative project with Space Propulsion Lab at MIT to develop ionic thrusters for the propulsion systems of small satellites such as CubeSats. Dr. Hasan earned his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech University in 2017. His research interests include functional materials, porous materials, micro- and nano-manufacturing, tribology, rheology, size-effects, and electron microscopy.

Active Learning Approaches to STEM Writing Intensive Courses

Corey Ptak

corey-ptakTeaching students to write effectively has been a major concern of STEM educators for many years. It has been observed that even after completing undergraduate composition courses, students have difficulty translating their writing skills to STEM courses The need for genre specific writing experiences in STEM classrooms is clear. However, many writing intensive courses in STEM rely on passive absorption of writing norms from readings in the discipline. This presentation outlined an active learning approach to writing in STEM classes as well as some preliminary data on the effectiveness of this active approach.

Dr. Corey Ptak is the director of the Learning Assistant Program in the Learning Centers. He has been teaching STEM courses for more than a decade and has extensive postdoctoral experience in applying education theory to the development of evidence based classroom practices.

Resources

An Art Historian and a Biologist Discuss Balancing Skills and Content

David Goldman, Gregg Transue, Jenevieve Delossantos

peer-to-peerArt History and Biology differ in many ways, but instructors in both disciplines face the same challenge: helping students learn a high volume of content while also imparting important, discipline-specific skills. Especially in introductory courses, this creates a host of challenges around time management; creating assignments and active learning activities that develop both content knowledge and skills; and ensuring that students don't master one while disengaging with the other.

David Goldman, PhD, is Director of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment in the SAS Office of Undergraduate Education. He has a PhD in Philosophy, taught at UCLA, Yale, and Ohio State, and served as Program Director for Humanities and Social Sciences programs at UCLA Extension before joining Rutgers last Fall.

Gregg Transue, Phd, is the Director of General Biology. He directed the transformation of the GB program to a model that provides a student centered, active learning environment. He is a seabird ecologist and has been involved with General Biology at Rutgers since 1982.

Jenevieve Delossantos, PhD, is Assistant Teaching Professor and Director of Special Pedagogic Initiatives in the SAS Office of Undergraduate Education. A Rutgers PhD in Art History, she is currently an instructor within the department and previously worked as a museum educator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Zimmerli Art Museum.

Conscious Conceptual Manipulation for Active Learning in the Classroom

Próspero García

conscious-conceptual-manipulationConscious Conceptual Manipulation (CCM) is a model of active learning where learners interact with concepts in a significant, coherent, and systematic manner, and where the materialization, manipulation, and transformation of their conceptual understandings are essential to effectively promote learning and development. This session will outline concrete, practical applications that instructors can incorporate into their teaching through CCM. Participants in this session will receive authentic instructional resources as well as templates to successfully implement this approach in their classrooms. Additionally, this session will explore the affordances and constraints of bringing this approach into a pedagogical environment while employing the most productive tools, digital and otherwise, to support and facilitate learners’ development.

Próspero N. García is Associate Professor of Spanish Applied Linguistics at Rutgers University-Camden. His research focuses on sociocultural psychology applied to heritage and second language acquisition and pedagogy, language evaluation and assessment, teacher’s cognition, and technology-enhanced language learning. Dr. Garcia’s excellence in graduate as well as undergraduate education has been recognized with several teaching awards including the 2017-2018 Graduate Faculty Teaching Award from the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS), the 2017-2018 President Fellowship for Teaching Excellence at Rutgers University, and the 2017 Chancellor’s Award for teaching excellence at Rutgers University-Camden.
Crafting for Science Education

Julia Criscione

poster-sessionCreativity is a necessary but often overlooked component of science. In K-12 classrooms, science is most often taught through a series of structured lesson plans, and while effective, a full lesson plan is not always necessary to convey a scientific concept. Additionally, this style of teaching may not be as engaging to students as a more interactive method of teaching. One such method is the use of arts and crafts to convey scientific concepts. The combination of open-ended, unstructured "arts" and goal-oriented, structured "crafts" allows children to be creative while also following instructions to create a model of a real-world concept with which they can interact. Because many concepts in the natural sciences may initially be unintuitive to children, the Rutgers Geology Museum presents science-themed arts and crafts projects during its educational events. These short activities convey scientific ideas or teach children about specific topics. For instance, the concept of natural selection was taught using an activity based on the Peppered Moth where children decorated paper moths and placed them around the Museum in a location where they would be best camouflaged. The moths that were not well-camouflaged were “eaten” by predators; those that were well-camouflaged survived. This simple activity only took a few minutes to complete and demonstrated the complex concept of natural selection in an engaging way. Additional concepts like symbiosis, using the hydrothermal vent worm, and bioluminescence, using the deep-sea angler fish, have also been taught using similar craft activities. It is important to engage creativity at all ages and these types of simple make-and-take craft activities are perfect for informal education centers such as museums where students only visit for a short time. Because these types of activities align with the Next Generation Science Standards, they can also be easily incorporated into more formal educational settings like K-12 classrooms.

Julia Criscione received both her bachelor's and master's degrees in Geological Sciences, with a specialization in Paleontology, from Rutgers University. Upon graduation, she was hired at the Rutgers Geology Museum where she became involved in science communication and public outreach. In the Fall, she will resume her studies as a Ph.D. student in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
Discuss, Present, Review, Reflect: How-To’s for Online Collaboration

Crystal G. Akers

group-workWhether you teach fully online or just want to move beyond the time constraints of the class period, tools for online, asynchronous collaboration can be used to promote student interaction and create opportunities for useful feedback. In this workshop, participants experienced online tools that support project-based active learning, in which students can discuss ideas, present polished work, review their peers, and ultimately reflect on their learning. Attendees also were able to see how asynchronous design can provide instructors with more opportunities for formative feedback as well as insights into student participation.

Crystal Akers is an Assistant Teaching Professor and the Online Coordinator for the Department of Linguistics at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. She has developed four online courses that she currently teaches: Sociolinguistics; Language of Advertising; Linguistics, the Internet, and Social Media; and Language and Law. She has a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Rutgers University.

Resources

Enhancing the Classroom Experience with Mobile Technology

James DiPierro

The Cyberlearning Innovation and Research Center at Rutgers has been exploring different avenues on how to increase instructor and student engagement in a live classroom environment by developing tools to measure material retention, understanding, and knowledge application as well as increasing classroom interaction. We are seeking to incorporate various mobile technologies into a easy to use application to deliver the best possible in class experience for all the parties involved.

James DiPierro is an Applications Developer who recently graduated from Rutgers University. He wishes to pursue the field of Software Engineering and wants to extend his knowledge towards independent development with the goal to create his own startup in software and web applications.
Flip and Click: Implementing Flipped Team-Based Leaning in General Biology in Underrepresented Minority Serving Institutions

Tadakimi Tomita

Tadakimi TomitaThis talk focused on converting traditional General Biology courses into flipping team-based courses in minority-serving institutions. Working with students with limited background knowledge pose a challenge in variety of minority serving institutions. An adaptation of flipped team-based learning (TBL) model offers flexibility and dynamism in learning and meets the specific needs of the demography. Appropriate use of assessment devices encouraged students to complete online pre-class modules and prepare them ready for the in-class TBL. Successful student preparation allows "Just-in-Time" teaching and subsequent IRAT/TRAT using the clicker system in class. This talk offered a cornucopia of practical tips and tricks for implementing flipped TBL in a small class environment.

Tadakimi Tomita is an instructor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine studying human parasite Toxoplasma gondii. He is a former IRACDA fellow with three years of flipped class teaching experience in underrepresented minority serving institutions.
Flipping the Classroom in Rutgers Mathematics Courses

Michael Weingart

michael-weingartThe Rutgers Mathematics Department now has several years of experience in running flipped classroom versions of Math 103 and Math 104. They have learned a great deal about the details of what works and what doesn't in such courses, such as whether it is effective to have only one class meeting per week (flipped hybrid format), or whether two class meetings are still needed (flipped standard). This talk will discuss a number of these details, and their implications for how flipped classroom approaches can be implemented in other courses.

Michael Weingart double majored in Classics and Philosophy, worked in the financial industry, and then returned to academics to complete a PhD in Mathematics. He joined the Rutgers Department of Mathematics in 2007 and is currently Associate Teaching Professor, serving as Associate Undergraduate Vice Chair and Director of Curriculum Development. He is leading the "P2C2 Reform Project," an effort to implement active learning and other innovations in the precalculus through the Calculus 2 sequence.

Resources:

Hands-on Demonstrations to Engage K-12 Students in STEM Fields

Patricia Irizarry, Emmanuel Serrano

poster-sessionRutgers is home to many unique outreach programs that have a big impact in our communities. Among them are the Rutgers RV, a boat that studies the Raritan River doing research and outreach; the Geology Museum, the oldest museum devoted to geological collections; and the Rutgers Science Explorer, a mobile lab that visits middle schools around the state. This poster session discussed how these different groups incorporate active learning into their educational programs.

ISLE-based Introductory Physics Lab Reform

Joshua Rutberg, Eugenia Etkina, Diane Jammula

This presentation discussed the ongoing work of reforming the introductory physics labs offered at Rutgers-Newark. The presenters discussed the Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE) framework which has guided these reform efforts. They showcased old lab activities alongside the newly-developed labs in order to highlight the changes we have made. Finally, they discussed some preliminary data regarding the efficacy of these changes.

Joshua Rutberg was a New York City high school physics teacher before beginning his PhD in Physics Education at Rutgers University. His focus is in lab reform and teacher preparation

Eugenia Etkina is a Distinguished Professor at Rutgers. She holds a PhD in physics education from Moscow State Pedagogical University and has more than 35 years of experience teaching physics. She is a Recipient of the 2014 Millikan Medal of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), awarded to educators who have made significant contributions to teaching physics. Professor Etkina designed and now coordinates one of the largest programs in physics teacher preparation in the United States, conducts professional development for high school and university physics instructors, and participates in reforms to the undergraduate physics courses. She developed a system called Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE) in which students learn physics using processes that mirror scientific practice which is used in hundreds of schools and universities in US and around the world.

Diane Jammula is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Physics at Rutgers-Newark. She uses interactive pedagogy to deepen learning and reach a wider range of students. As co-director of the Learning Assistant program, she helps transform classrooms in physics and beyond to be student centered.
Leaderboards and Peer Reviews

Justin Kalef

justin-kalefWhile several active learning applications have been developed for use in the classroom, there are many others that help tremendously with active learning when class is not in session. This session explored two apps of the latter sort, both developed by James Chun and his team at the Cyber Innovation and Research Center at Rutgers. The first is a wonderful tool that helps to organize peer evaluations for courses run on a Team-Based Learning model or something similar. The second is an original tool that might be of interest to those considering integrating puzzle-type materials into their courses for their students to use in individual study. In this session, an instructor who is generally averse to incorporating technology into his teaching, discussed how he has found both these apps to be a great help. Additionally, both apps are now available to everyone at Rutgers.

Justin Kalef has been teaching at Rutgers since 2011. Though his aims in teaching are in some ways quite traditional academic ones, his teaching approach is eclectic and is influenced by Team-Based Learning, gamification, and the psychology of puzzle-solving. He serves as Director of Teaching Innovation for the Department of Philosophy.
Organizers Lead to System Level Thinking and Academic Success

Christy Beal

organizersIn this panel discussion, Dr. Christy Beal and her students discussed the use of organizers in General Biology. Students in General Biology are asked to regularly take their lecture and study notes and reconstruct them into specific outcomes and organizers. During workshop sessions students work in teams to initially create what we call organizers, one page summaries of the basic pattern of an outcome with components identified from what has been discussed in lecture. In the following weeks students are challenged to compose relevant organizers themselves, and to look for the systems that appear in biology. During this panel, the audience had an opportunity to hear perspectives from the student side of General Biology. Students talked about how utilizing organizers has improved their grades in General Biology, but also how the skill of organizing concepts and details and an appreciation of system-level understanding has improved their performance and success in other courses and even beyond Rutgers.

Christy Beal, PhD is an entomologist and is one of three instructors for the General Biology Program. She is an Alumna of Cook College, Rutgers (BS, 1995) and has been with the General Biology program Rutgers University since 2015.
Peer-to-Peer: An Innovative Problem Based Learning Experience

Allison Rusgo, Daniela Livingston

peer-to-peerThe Physician Assistant (PA) Program and Center for Learning and Academic Success Services (CLASS) at Drexel University partnered in 2016 to create Peer-to-Peer which is a group facilitation resource for first-year PA students. In this model, ten didactic-year PA students are selected as group facilitators based on academic and interpersonal skills and CLASS provides four non-PA graduate student tutors for additional guidance. During each two-hour session, groups review study strategies, discuss complex lecture material, and complete faculty-designed case vignettes based on course material. Based in the constructivist learning theory, this model supports the academic needs of didactic-year PA students while augmenting their critical thinking and group collaboration skills. The structure of the sessions also ensure that participants are actively engaged with the material via clinical vignettes that require in-depth knowledge of anatomy, pathophysiology, clinical medicine, and pharmacology. In this workshop, leaders first reviewed the background, evolution, and structure of the model and then participants were divided into small groups to work through a simulated Peer-to-Peer exercise.

Allison Rusgo, MPH, PA-C is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Drexel University in the College of Nursing and Health Professions Physician Assistant Department. Prior to joining Drexel’s faculty in 2016, Ms. Rusgo practiced clinically in emergency medicine and cardiology in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. Ms. Rusgo completed her undergraduate education at the University of Rochester followed by a Master’s in Public Health from The Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and then graduated from Drexel’s PA program in 2012. Currently, Ms. Rusgo is the internal medicine clinical coordinator, co-director of several didactic PA courses and practices part-time as a hospitalist PA at Einstein Medical Center in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Ms. Rusgo is a section editor for JAAPA (Journal of American Academy of Physician Assistants), Regional Representative for PSPA (Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants) and a member of AAPA (American Academy of Physician Assistants) and PAEA (Physician Assistant Education Association).

Dr. Livingston is a graduate of University of Washington School of Medicine, MEDEX Northwest Physician Assistant Training Program, 1999-2001, Physician Assistant; School of Medicine and Pharmacology Bucharest, Romania, 1985, Medical Doctor Pediatrics. She is the Course Director of Principles of Medical Sciences, and Clinical Academic Coordinator for Pediatric Rotation. She also participates as a lecturer and seminar facilitator in other pre-clinical courses (Clinical Assessment, Problem Based Learning) and in Graduate I and II courses. Dr. Livingston’s clinical experience includes pediatrics, primary care and working with underserved populations. Dr. Livingston is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants, and the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).

Self-Efficacy in a Flipped Calculus 2 Classroom

John Kerrigan, Geraldine Cochran, Lydia Prendergast, Jillian Mellen, Antonio Silva

john-kerriganThis presentation discussed research findings from a study completed in a flipped "Calculus 2 for Engineers" course taught in an Active Learning Classroom this past summer at Rutgers University. After a brief discussion of the course design and classroom layout, the results of the following research questions were presented:
(1 )What is the perception of math/physical science students regarding the use of flipped teaching strategy in a calculus 2 course?
(2) How does the self-efficacy of math/physical science students in a flipped Calculus 2 course change over the course of one semester?
Implications for practice and future iterations of the flipped classroom were also addressed.

John Kerrigan is a Part-Time Lecturer who teaches various undergraduate mathematics courses in the Mathematics Department and Educational Psychology at the Graduate School of Education. John recently completed his Ed.D. in Design of Learning Environments at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. His research interests include active learning, flipped classrooms, and mathematics education.

Geraldine Cochran is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Office of STEM Education at Rutgers University. Cochran earned her bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics and her master’s degree in teaching with a specialization in secondary school physics from Chicago State University. Cochran earned her Ed.S. and her Ph.D. in science education and curriculum and instruction with a cognate in physics, respectively, from Florida International University. Cochran has taught science, mathematics, and education courses at the elementary, high school, and collegiate levels for a variety of student populations including prospective, preservice, and inservice physics teachers. Cochran’s research has been in the area of physics education with a focus on addressing issues of equity through course transformation at the introductory collegiate level and through assessment and a re-envisioning of recruitment, admissions, and departmental culture at the graduate level.

Antonio Silva is a continuing student from Brooklyn, New York whose goal is to complete an undergraduate degree in physics from Rutgers in 2021.  Antonio has an A.A.S. in computer science from Baker College, Michigan and graduated with honors in 2015. He has worked in hospitality for over 10 years, and been a learning assistant in introductory physics for two terms in 2018 and 2019. After graduating, Antonio hopes to go on to pursue a graduate degree, and eventual career, in physics. 

Sleuth: A Gamified Framework for STEM Problem Solving

Emily Atieh, Marc N. Muñiz

sleuthOne issue commonly faced in STEM classrooms is the creation of unique problems that allow students to explore the conceptual nature of the material while still employing problem-solving skills, as opposed to the standard “plug-and-chug” problems that do not offer students much room for further investigation. General Chemistry Active Learning Recitations (ALRs), have utilized a new type of problem called Sleuth Problems. Rather than giving away information, students must “purchase” different pieces of data in order to solve the big problem, with the group with the most left over “money” declared the winner. This session allowed attendees to experience a Sleuth Problem first-hand, learn about the data behind this approach, and ask questions.

Using Active Learning in a Large Enrollment Course for Engineering Students

Geraldine L. Cochran, Antonio Silva

geraldine-cochranThis presentation described the presenters' efforts as a teaching team to utilize active learning in a large enrollment introductory physics course for engineering students. Their goal was to implement active learning strategies in a large lecture format. To do so required the use of technology and support from Learning Assistants. They shared how they used both the technology and the support of Learning Assistants to support student engagement during short, interactive clicker question activities and during longer open-ended problem solving activities during lecture. Implementing this did not come without challenges; so, they also discussed some of the challenges they faced and strategies they used to try to overcome those challenges.

Geraldine Cochran is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Office of STEM Education at Rutgers University. Cochran earned her bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics and her master’s degree in teaching with a specialization in secondary school physics from Chicago State University. Cochran earned her Ed.S. and her Ph.D. in science education and curriculum and instruction with a cognate in physics, respectively, from Florida International University. Cochran has taught science, mathematics, and education courses at the elementary, high school, and collegiate levels for a variety of student populations including prospective, preservice, and inservice physics teachers. Cochran’s research has been in the area of physics education with a focus on addressing issues of equity through course transformation at the introductory collegiate level and through assessment and a re-envisioning of recruitment, admissions, and departmental culture at the graduate level.

Antonio Silva is a continuing student from Brooklyn, New York whose goal is to complete an undergraduate degree in physics from Rutgers in 2021.  Antonio has an A.A.S. in computer science from Baker College, Michigan and graduated with honors in 2015. He has worked in hospitality for over 10 years, and been a learning assistant in introductory physics for two terms in 2018 and 2019. After graduating, Antonio hopes to go on to pursue a graduate degree, and eventual career, in physics.

Using Network Analysis to Evaluate Community in a Physics Course for Engineering Students

Geraldine L. Cochran Room

geraldine-cochranThe purpose of this study was to determine a) if a physics learning community situated in an introductory course for engineering students is equitable and b) if participation (or location) in the community is a predictor of student success as determined by course grade using Social Network Analysis (SNA). Previous research indicates that communities of practice and student engagement are linked to student performance and persistence in college. Our study sought to validate the connection between community and student academic success using SNA. Recent studies in physics education research have used SNA to evaluate community/student engagement in physics courses and determine the equity of the community by considering race/ethnicity, gender, and traditional/non-traditional student status. Our study built on that by also considering transfer/native student status and status as a first-generation college student. Previous research demonstrated that community engagement is particularly important for transfer students and first-generation college students as becoming acclimated to their new environments and locating and accessing resources is essential to their academic success. In this study, we simultaneously considered classroom experiences and extracurricular activities. Preliminary findings of this study were presented.

Geraldine Cochran is an Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Office of STEM Education at Rutgers University. Cochran earned her bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics and her master’s degree in teaching with a specialization in secondary school physics from Chicago State University. Cochran earned her Ed.S. and her Ph.D. in science education and curriculum and instruction with a cognate in physics, respectively, from Florida International University. Cochran has taught science, mathematics, and education courses at the elementary, high school, and collegiate levels for a variety of student populations including prospective, preservice, and inservice physics teachers. Cochran’s research has been in the area of physics education with a focus on addressing issues of equity through course transformation at the introductory collegiate level and through assessment and a re-envisioning of recruitment, admissions, and departmental culture at the graduate level.
Virtual Research Groups: Modules as Scalable Simulations of STEM

Jonathan P. Singer, Molla Hasan, Michael Grzenda, Marissa E. Tousley

virtual-research-groupsA persistent dilemma facing modern undergraduate STEM education across all levels is the simultaneous resource cost and desirability of research experience as a part of a curriculum. Hands-on research experience is widely recognized as one of the most relevant activities for the preparation and retention of students. Undergraduate research in a lab group requires a large investment of faculty and graduate student mentoring. The closest practical analog, lab courses, require the most hours and staffing to execute. As undergraduate enrollment continues to grow, these issues will only become more strenuous on program resources. Further, lab courses often lack the key discovery-based skills that are the most central and enjoyable aspects of research. Virtual Research Group (VRG) modules are designed to simulate the investigative aspects of the research process while incorporating peer-learning, project ownership, and diverse role models, without any laboratory and minimal computational resources. This is accomplished by synthesizing past research into datasets that simulate the research experience. The presenters have implemented a VRG pilot based on polymer science in two distinct environments: (1) as a 12-hour course in a summer program for scientifically-motivated high school rising seniors and (2) as an aspect of a full materials science course for chemical engineering sophomores and juniors. This poster highlighted student responses to this module, particularly focusing on shifts of perception of research.

Prof. Jonathan P. Singer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His research considers the translation of micro/nanostructured materials into mass manufacturing. He has been developing active learning methods for scientific education throughout his academic career, and in recognition of his education and mentoring efforts, he was the recipient of the 2008 Penn Prize for Teaching by a Graduate Student, a 2014 Yale Scientific Teaching Fellowship, and, most recently, the 2019 Engineering Governing Council Students' Professor of the Year, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He received his BS and MS from the University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all in Materials Science and Engineering.

Dr. Marissa Tousley is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a teaching-focused undergraduate institution specializing in STEM education. She teaches courses in materials science, thermodynamics, and heat and mass transfer and works with undergraduate students on research projects related to polymer thin films. Marissa received a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Alfred University and a Ph.D. in Chemical and Environmental Engineering from Yale University.

Michael Grzenda grew up in Middlesex County, NJ. After leaving to earn his bachelors degree at the University Delaware, he returned to attend Rutgers University in the Fall of 2017. Recently Michael has been writing up his master's thesis on graphene polymer composites while he begins working on his PhD research developing biomimetic coatings for deep sea drones.

Dr. Molla Hasan is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Rutgers University. Currently, Dr. Hasan is working on a collaborative project with Space Propulsion Lab at MIT to develop ionic thrusters for the propulsion systems of small satellites such as CubeSats. Dr. Hasan earned his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech University in 2017. His research interests include functional materials, porous materials, micro- and nano-manufacturing, tribology, rheology, size-effects, and electron microscopy.