I am happy to update the Western community on the progress of ongoing initiatives as well as new programming for fall 2010.
Science Discovery Café: In ongoing collaboration with The Student Success Centre, the Faculty of Science is enhancing the experience of academic community for first-year Science students by arranging ongoing meetings with 10 small groups, each cofacilitated by a faculty member and an undergraduate peer mentor. Although groups are free to follow their own interests, the main outcomes for the Café include: i) an expansion of supportive academic relationships; ii) an improved understanding of the process of research and the nature of knowledge that it produces; and iii) a greater awareness of the structure of the University and the range of academic careers that it provides.
Science Journal Clubs: Students graduate from the “conversation salon” atmosphere of Café into an upper-year program that is more focused on finding, analyzing, and reporting on interesting articles from the scientific literature. Four faculty are hosting groups this fall.
Faculty of Science Learning Development Speaker Series: This program supports visits to campus for leaders in the field of post-secondary Science education to give presentations and meet with colleagues. The first presentation by Dr. Carol Pollock from the Biology Department at the University of British Columbia was held on October 22. Carol presented her work on Concept Inventories and alignment of exam questions vs. course outcomes. (This latter work was published in the recent first edition of the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.) The second visiting expert will be Dr. Carolyn Eyles, Director of the Integrated Science (iSci) program at McMaster University. Carolyn will visit on November 18.
Faculty of Science Graduate Fellowship in Learning Development: This Fellowship creates a professional development opportunity for graduate students with an interest in the scholarship of teaching and learning in Science. Held in lieu of a traditional teaching assistantship, the Fellowship allows graduate students to support faculty conducting educational research, consult with departments on course and curriculum development, and develop programming for various groups. Three Fellows, Bernard Chan (Applied Mathematics), Elizabeth Renouf (Statistics and Actuarial Sciences) and Josh Byers (Chemistry) are all active this term. Faculty of Science Undergraduate
Fellowship in Learning Development: This Fellowship creates a professional development opportunity for undergraduate students with an interest in the scholarship of teaching and learning in Science. Over the summer, two students, Celina Lin and Natalie Kehl, collaborated with faculty on curriculum development in Physics and Biology, respectively. During this fall term, another student, Victoria Boateng, is working on analyzing the impact of curriculum innovation in Physics.