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Cottrell Scholar Newsletter

Second Issue, November 2012

List of Contents

From the Program Director (Silvia Ronco, RCSA) A diversified CS audience and grants to encourage collaborations among Scholars – RCSA continues to enhance a vital program. 2012 Cottrell Scholar Conference (Rigoberto Hernandez, CS 1999) Highlights from the 2012 CS Conference and details on the new collaborative grants. CS Collaborative New Chemistry Faculty Workshop (Andrew Feig, CS 2002 and Rory Waterman, CS 2009) Chemistry faculty must do more to promote active learning, but the CS Collaborative New Faculty Workshop is a good beginning. A Summary of Educational Activities Great ideas you may want to implement on your campus.

From the Program Director

As many of you know, our program has recently gone through exciting enhancements. At the 2010 CS conference participating scholars challenged RCSA to improve the program by facilitating teamwork among new and older scholars. The charge was clear: To make the CS program unique, RCSA had to commit to help incubate ideas and projects with potential national impact. We listened and in 2011 we launched the CS Collaborative – a network of 250+ scholars from Astronomy, Chemistry and Physics departments. To encourage CS Collaborative interactions and work throughout the year, RCSA began to offer collaborative grants to scholars attending the annual conference. Funded projects must be aimed at transforming science undergraduate education with the ultimate goal of attracting and retaining a larger number of students in science careers. Because we understand this vital goal requires collaborative work, we diversified the conference audience. Almost 50 scholars from most of the classes since the inception of the CS program in 1994 were welcomed to the 2012 conference. Participants included representatives from the Association of American Universities, the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Physics, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the National Science Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences. Also, for the first time we invited participating scholars to nominate colleagues from their home institutions to attend the meeting. Consequently, five non-CS faculty and university administrators joined the CS group at the two-and-a-half-day event. The diverse mix of attendees was the heart and soul of an extremely successful conference with a high level of interaction among participants who engaged in authentic dialog. I would like to emphasize that this was made possible only because of the high quality of the CS Collaborative. Since 1994 RCSA has identified an incredibly accomplished group of early career teacher-scholars who excel in both research and educational activities, and who are eager to implement new teaching approaches in their classrooms. We remain committed to further improve the CS program. Please contact me with your ideas, thoughts and concerns. Silvia Ronco Program Director Back to top

2012 Cottrell Scholar Conference

The semester is now in full swing, and, hopefully, you are implementing new tools gleaned from the last Cottrell Scholar Conference in your classroom. I am implementing the think-pair-share questions (that I learned from some of you last summer) in my undergraduate physical chemistry class. Nevertheless, I am feeling the lows of not having my fellow Scholars around to discuss such innovations. So I write you, in part, as a reminder that we can still continue our dialog via the Collaborative’s Facebook and LinkedIn sites. With the recent announcement of four new awards, the Collaborative is also alive and well through our active Collaborative projects. All seven leads are looking for additional voices (and boots on the ground!) to help them move forward. In case you missed the 2012 Conference, I will first recap some of the highlights:
  • The Conference is now in its second year involving a stronger partnership between RCSA and the Scholars. The conference planning committee included Mats Selen (CS 1996, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Linda Columbus (CS 2010, University of Virginia), Adam Leibovich (CS 2006, University of Pittsburgh), Andrew Feig (CS 2002, Wayne State University), and me (CS 1999, Georgia Institute of Technology) as Chair. We worked closely with Silvia Ronco and Martha Gilliland at RCSA to tinker with the program with an aim to broaden its impact beyond the meeting itself.
  • When it came to discussions, Mike Schatz (CS 1999, Georgia Tech) started the fireworks with comments about MOOCs and their potential in revolutionizing education beyond the classroom. These so-called massively open online courses can include thousands of students from around the world at once.
  • Toby Smith (VP for Policy, Association of American Universities) spoke about the AAU initiative to transform science undergraduate education.
  • Celeste Rohlfing (Deputy Assistant Director, NSF Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate) provided us with clear advice on how to leverage the National Science Foundation to fund our education and outreach programs.
  • Finally, Luis Echegoyen (Robert Welch Professor, University of Texas, El Paso) thrilled us with his research work on buckyballs, and energized us to become citizen-scientists to advocate for on behalf of fundamental research.
Throughout, we heard from the newest class of Scholars. The depth and sophistication of their education programs impressed us all! As Silvia mentioned in her introduction, the Conference now includes a collaborative grant component. All attending Scholars are encouraged to team up and propose initiatives to expand the reach of our efforts. Up to $25K is available for each grant. This innovative program allows the Scholars to convert the energy of the ideas discussed during seminars, breakout groups, and coffee breaks into reality. The following four programs were approved within weeks of the conference:
  1. “Mobilizing the Forgotten Army: Equipping TAs with Inquiry-Based Instruction Methods,” Jordan Gerton (CS 2007, Physics, University of Utah) and Michael Schatz (CS 1999, Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology)
  2. “Cottrell Repository for Effective Science Teaching (CREST),” Geoff Hutchison (CS 2012, Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh) and Michael Hildreth (CS 2003, Physics, University of Notre Dame)
  3. “Effective Evaluation of Teaching and Learning (EETL)- Searching for New Approaches to R1 STEM Teaching Evaluation,” Stephen Bradforth (CS 1999, Chemistry, University of Southern California), Will Dichtel (CS 2012, Chemistry, Cornell University) and Adam Leibovich (CS 2006, Physics, University of Pittsburgh)
  4. “Cottrell Comic Challenge Project (CCCP): A Pilot Program for Attracting and Developing Graphic Talent for a Novel Outreach Project,” Snezana Stanimirovic (CS 2009, Astronomy, University of Wisconsin, Madison), Yadong Yin (CS 2009, Chemistry, University of California, Riverside), Michael Gladders (CS 2009, Astronomy, University of Chicago), Karen Bjorkman (CS 1999, Astronomy, University of Toledo) and Sarbajit Banerjee (CS 2012, Chemistry, SUNY at Buffalo)
The 2013 Conference promises to continue the momentum for expanding the Cottrell Scholar Collaborative. Mats Selen will chair the planning committee. I encourage you to contact him with your ideas for speakers and topics. I look forward to seeing you in Tucson next July! Rigoberto Hernandez CS 1999, Georgia Institute of Technology Back to top

CS Collaborative New Chemistry Faculty Workshop

With the assistance of a grant from RCSA, the first Cottrell Scholars Collaborative New Faculty Workshop was a great success. The workshop brought together 38 starting faculty from 30 institutions for a two-day bootcamp in Washington, D.C., in August. The workshop was organized by Andrew Feig (CS 2002), Rory Waterman (CS 2009), Lane Baker (CS 2009) Linda Columbus (CS 2010), and William Jenks (CS 1995) with tremendous help from Jodi Wesemann of the ACS. Long-standing programs for new faculty development in other disciplines reminded us that chemistry has a long way to catch up in terms of promoting active learning in the classroom. We recognized however that there were successful models available for us to emulate to help faculty improve their teaching effectiveness. The design of the workshop came from a holistic view about how to help individuals be effective as new faculty. Armed with the teacher-scholar model that we all share, we knew there was little that we could offer a diverse group in terms of improving their research programs. Besides, for the most part, these people were hired because of their strong research credentials. So instead, we focused on aspects of teaching and mentoring that we all wished that we would have had when we started as new faculty. The first day of the workshop focused on the use of active learning approaches in the classroom. After demonstrating these methods through hands-on exercises presented by the organizers, workshop participants were challenged to develop a single, specific lesson plan they could easily and quickly implement in their own classroom. They revised it over a successive series of break-out sessions focused on how to engage students in discussion, how to set learning goals and how to properly use formative and summative assessments to understand what students do and don’t get. They were also asked to think about scale and the challenges they would face in using their exercise in a large-format class. The second day focused on issues of student mentoring, grant writing and other challenges all new faculty face as they establish their independent laboratories and train their first graduate students. This session included a panel discussion with program officers from the ACS PRF, NSF, DOE, and NIH, led by the RCSA’s Silvia Ronco. We are collaborating with Prof. Marilyne Stains from U Nebraska Lincoln to collect data about the efficacy of the workshop. She is studying how participants implement active learning approaches in their classrooms and whether they do it differently than similar chemistry faculty who did not attend the workshop. Planning for the 2013 workshop (which is likely to take place in early August) is already underway. Cottrell Scholars interested in participating in this project as workshop facilitators are welcome to contact Andrew Feig or Rory Waterman. Also, if your department hires new faculty this year, please encourage them to attend the workshop next summer. Andrew Feig CS 2002, Wayne State University Rory Waterman CS 2009, University of Vermont Back to top

A Summary of Educational Activities

At the end of the 2012 CS Conference scholars were asked to identify ideas to implement on their own campuses. What follows is a summary of the most-cited ideas:
  1. Develop a student exchange program with national labs.
  2. Implement “inverting the classroom” techniques.
  3. Share evidence-based teaching resources with fellow faculty.
  4. Implement a structured undergraduate advising system to distribute across the entire faculty.
  5. Invite Cottrell Scholars to conduct campus visits to share big challenges and ideas shared by the Think and Do Tank collaborative effort.
  6. Take better advantage of education specialists on campus.
  7. Develop strategies for leveraging the AAU initiative.
  8. Create a broader teaching evaluation of faculty.
  9. Disseminate the notion that evidence-based teaching methods actually reduce time spent on teaching while providing a much more satisfying experience.
  10. Develop a better model for TA training.
  11. Implement team-building exercises to create a better learning environment for students.
  12. Develop research-based instructional laboratories.
  13. Promulgate comPADRE as a physics teaching resource (
  14. Distribute the “Avogadro” platform among colleagues (
  15. Develop additional metrics for evaluating teaching performance.
  16. Introduce course reform.
  17. Implement inquiry-based teaching.
  18. Increase use of simulation/computation in classroom teaching.
  19. Increase pairing interactions with other Scholars.
Develop a database of industrial contacts for undergraduate summer internships. Back to top

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