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ESA Staff is at the Annual Meeting in Montreal. Meeting Website

Hands-On Workshops

Click the links below to read the abstracts of each presentation. Please note that all sessions are held in Mountain Time.

Information for LDC Presenters

Friday Workshops

2:00 – 3:30 PM MT

Saturday Workshops

12:45 – 2:15 PM MT


Workshop Abstracts and Descriptions:

Friday Workshops

Online Resources That Can Be Used in a Metagenomic Course Utilizing CURE Pedagogy

Presenter: Stokes Baker, University of Detroit Mercy

Room: Aspen Glen

View Handouts Here

Abstract: The workshop will present how metagenomics courses utilizing CURE pedagogy aligns with 4DEE. Participant will learn in how to use free online tools to obtain 16S rRNA homology data and how to analyze the data with advance statistical tools.

Description: Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURE) laboratory courses utilizing metagenomics can fulfill many of the education goals of Four-Dimensional Ecology Education Framework (4DEE) and Vision and Change for Undergraduate Biology Education (Vision and Change). Metagenomics involves massive parallel sequencing (e.g., next-generation sequencing) of environmental DNA (eDNA) to evaluate the composition of the community found in the samples. In the workshop, two sets of investigations by University of Detroit Mercy students enrolled in Applied Metagenomics will be presented with a description how the course learning objectives (isolate microbial DNA from environmental sources, gained knowledge of super computing resources, applied mathematics to analyze ecological data and evaluate hypotheses) aligned with 4DEE (i.e., Core Concept of ecological communities, Ecology Practices involving fieldwork, computational analysis, quantitative reasoning, and collaboration, and Cross-Cutting Themes of community dynamics and the evolutionary bases of taxonomy). There will be a discussion on strategies on how students can create data or obtain publicly deposited sequence data. Participants will use free online tools to obtain/produce count data corresponding to 16S rRNA databases (i.e., MG-RAST; and analyze the data with advance statistical tools (i.e., MicrobiomeAnalyst; Spreadsheet software will be used to bridge the two software pipelines and to produced graphs from data outputs. Workshop participants should bring a laptop computer and have access to spreadsheet software.

Using two-stage exams to practice and improve collaboration

Presenter: Andrew Martin, University of Colorado

Room: Glacier Basin

Abstract: Two-stage exams involve having students answer a set of questions multiple times, once individually and one or more times in a small groups. Questions can be selected or free response. The strategy is designed to accomplish two goals: emphasize learning is a social endeavor and emphasize collaboration depends on effective communication and leveraging the intellect of diverse group members. The approach is demonstrated and participants engage in a two-stage exam and the analysis of exam scores for the purpose of data-driven revision of curriculum.

Description: Purpose: illustrate the flexibility and power of two-stage exams for practicing collaboration and emphasizing the development of the academic community in the classroom Learning objectives: describe why two-stage exams are useful, explain how to construct and analyze two-stage exam data, and use exam data for revision of curricula and exams Methodology: participants engage in two-stage exams and reflect on their value for revealing student thinking, practicing collaboration and revising assessments. Data come from the implementation of two-stage exams in person using IF-AT cards and also remotely using standard online quiz platforms.

A Four-Dimensional Ecology Field Experience Studying Water on the YMCA Campus

Presenter: Alan Berkowitz, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Room: Emerald Mountain

View Handouts Here

Abstract: Participants will investigate a driving question about water on the Y campus that demands 4-dimensional exploration, followed by reflection on the experience using ESA’s 4DEE Framework and UFERN’s Model for Undergraduate Field Experience Design and Assessment.

Description: During the first half of the workshop, participants will engage actively as learners, working in pairs in a “what do you need to know” activity to address a driving question about water in a part of the local YMCA campus ecosystem. They will brainstorm a list of everything they’d need to know to answer the focal question. After sharing their lists, the group will develop a model of the system. This will be used to propose a range of approaches to answering the most pressing and accessible questions, potentially combining fieldwork, interviews, work with existing data sources and modeling.  In the second half of the workshop, we will reflect on the experience, first as learners and then as teachers. We will analyze the activity for its potential to engage students in genuine, four-dimensional learning that incorporates at least 1) the ecology practice of fieldwork, 2) core ecology concepts about ecosystems, 3) cross-cutting concepts about systems and the conservation of matter, and 4) human/environment interaction idea including human impacts, human dependency (ecosystem services), human management decisions and ethics.  The workshop will conclude by guiding participants to use the Model for Undergraduate Field Experience Design and Assessment recently produced by the Undergraduate Field Experience Research Network (UFERN). This model helps understand student outcomes from these types of field experiences in terms of both student context factors and program design factors.


Saturday Workshops

Bridging the divide: Helping students connect learned quantitative skills to biology

Presenter: John Starnes, Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College

Co-presenter: Joe Esquibel, Lansing Community College

Room: Glacier Basin

View Handouts Here

Abstract: Looking for activities that will help your students improve and connect their quantitative skills? This session will explore freely available OER materials designed by teams of mathematicians and biologists and focus on teaching quantitative biology.

Description: Participants will explore open education resources (OERs) in quantitative biology developed by teams of mathematicians and biologists. These modules are designed to increase quantitative skills identified by biology faculty as important and needing additional support. Participants will be introduced to a collection of resources and approaches for teaching quantitative skills in biology courses. Presenters are leaders in the Quantitative Biology at Community Colleges (QB@CC) project, an NSF funded Research Coordination Network for Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE). Funded for five years, this project is designed to support a collaborative community of mathematics and biology faculty to develop a collection of OERs incorporating mathematical concepts and practices in relevant biological contexts. The project also supports the OER life cycle of “Find-Adapt-Use-Refine-Share” and provides professional development for implementing these modules in math and biology classrooms. The OERs align with Vision and Change core concepts and competencies, covering appropriate quantitative skills while teaching a variety of biological concepts. Materials target introductory biology content, and lower-level mathematics concepts, and as such are appropriate for use by high school and undergraduate faculty at both two and four year colleges. Previously developed OERs fit within the 4DEE framework and focus on building student competency in the ecological practices section of the 4DEE framework. Participants will be invited to join the QB@CC project in mentored professional development or facilitated OER development. The session will be a hands-on experience in which participants first engage with the OER materials as learners, and then we will shift back to educator roles to discuss the pedagogy modeled in the session, adapting the learning goals appropriately, and being attentive to providing an inclusive learning environment. Learn more about the project here: And the background research that informed the focus of the project:

Engaging Students in Watershed Awareness, Technology, & Environmental Research For Sustainability

Presenter: David Kline, Stroud Water Research Center

Room: Aspen Glen

View Handouts Here

Abstract: Bring computers for a hands-on session to explore the NSF-funded Watershed Awareness using Technology and Environmental Research for Sustainability curriculum. The curriculum engages learners in universally accessible student-centered lessons that incorporate authentic place-based watershed modeling, macroinvertebrate assessment, and career awareness.

Description: Participants should bring computers to explore the NGSS aligned curriculum developed by the NSF funded Watershed Awareness using Technology and Environmental Research for Sustainability (WATERS) project. See how this online curriculum targets underserved learners (including ELL) with embedded Universal Design for Learning (UDL) features to enhance student performance and understanding through engaging content, authentic place-based field studies, and online watershed modeling. Participants will learn about new tools for data collection and analysis that enhance STEM education and use an online GIS modeling tool to delineate a property and analyze its impact on local water quality. Users can model changes to the property that can improve the health of the watershed. The WATERS curriculum integrates many elements of the 4DEE Framework, including fieldwork, spatial analysis, modeling and simulation, organisms, landscapes, human-environment Interactions, and ecological stewardship. The curriculum guides students in analyzing their local watershed and discovering how humans impact water quality with land cover and conservation practice choices. Students then develop sustainability plans for their schoolyard that reduces runoff and improves evapotranspiration and infiltration to protect the watershed’s (and ecosystem’s) health.

A Metacognitive Toolkit to Improve Retention of Underrepresented Science Students

Presenter: Elizabeth Hane, Rochester Institute of Technology

Co-presenter: Rita Magalhaes, Rochester Institute of Technology

Room: Emerald Mountain

View Handouts Here

Abstract: This workshop is focused on metacognitive classroom techniques that 1) advance students’ abilities to monitor and assess their own learning; and 2) foster a sense of belonging in science. Participants will have the opportunity to explore various metacognitive techniques.

Description: Research has shown that students learn and retain more when they understand the broader context of their learning. This is the essence of metacognition — the ability to reflect upon learning, assess one’s own understanding, and draw larger connections between content areas. Studies indicate that it’s not enough to merely change teaching strategies, however; to persist in science, students must also feel they belong. Therefore, in addition to explicit metacognitive activities dealing with content, we developed effective activities that reinforce student identities and foster a sense of belonging.

Our course, “Metacognitive Approaches to Scientific Inquiry” has explored the use of metacognitive activities over the past six years. Longitudinal data indicates that students who complete the course are more likely to remain enrolled full-time in STEM fields compared to their peers. A brief overview of the course will be provided, but the main focus will be hands-on activities. Participants will have the opportunity to try the various metacognitive techniques, including guided reflection forms, quiet reflective periods, lateral transfer maps, identifying cognitive biases, values affirmation, and case studies. Worksheets and think-pair-share exercises will encourage participants to consider how techniques might be used within their existing courses and educational settings. Participants will be able to: 1. Utilize several metacognitive techniques that can be deployed in any classroom setting, 2. Identify effective strategies to increase a sense of belonging for all students in the classroom, and 3. Reflect on ways to incorporate strategies and techniques into courses in other institutions. The workshop does not explicitly address the 4DEE, but the techniques have been used to support ecological education. Case studies in the course focused on ecological examples (e.g. ecological impacts of hydrofracking, biotechnology in endangered species, etc.), but the techniques could be used in any educational setting.