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Professional Development for Enhanced Student Learning Outcomes

Posted: September 9, 2015 — Gilbert Ayuk

For many Fulton-Montgomery Community College faculty, the summer isn’t a time to take cruises or travel to some wonderland. While the summer holiday provides faculty the opportunity to spend more quality time with family and friends, many of us take advantage of our time off to attend enrichment activities – activities such as professional development workshops that increase our abilities to engage our students in the various courses and academic programs offered at the College.

I recently attended a five day NASA/New York Space Grant (NYSG) workshop for community and technical college STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) faculty on a course for Implementing Methods of Scientific Research (MSR) for community college students. The July 20-24 workshop was hosted by CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College and the American Museum of Natural History. MSR and similar workshops have been shown to help faculty: improve students’ scientific, analogical, and proportional reasoning; computer and general research skills (e.g., data quality judgment, experimental design and data analysis, statistics); engage and retain students in STEM; and, better prepare students for summer research internships. During the workshop I, and the other participants, modeled best practices in implementing an MSR course.

At the close of the workshop, each workshop participant prepared and presented a local MSR course implementation plan. Participants assessed and critiqued each other’s implementation plan as part of a supportive learning community. I now feel more confident of my ability to engage our students in research and deliver NASA STEM content.

Also, because of this workshop, I am developing a one-semester Methods of Science Research course that could be offered to F-M students beginning in the 2016 Spring semester. The course, similar to others offered at various locations within New York State, would make extensive use of innovative laboratory technology available at F-M. The course format will be collaborative, hands-on, and computer-based; thus, preparing F-M STEM major students to compete for NASA funded NYSG scholarships and summer research internships at NASA centers. By laying down the groundwork for research with a meticulous study of experimental design and data analysis, partnership opportunities with four-year institutions could materialize.

Students majoring in any STEM field at F-M who plan to enroll in the MSR course in the spring semester of 2016 will be eligible to apply for a NYSG spring scholarship and summer research internship position, for which the application deadline is October 16, 2015.

At F-M the variety of professional development activities during the summer in which faculty participate indirectly impacts student learning outcomes by enhancing curriculum, such as the creation of the MSR course, to prepare students for life after F-M.

Gilbert Ayuk is Physics Instructor at F-M.

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