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Board 218: Assessing Scientific Literacy across the Undergraduate Curriculum: Preliminary Results from the Collaboration Across Boundaries (CAB) Pedagogical Study

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


S. Monisha Pulimood The College of New Jersey Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Sarah Monisha Pulimood is Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science at The College of New Jersey. She was the Barbara Meyers Pelson Chair in Faculty-Student Engagement during academic years 2018 to 2021. In this role she spearheaded the Collaborating Across Boundaries (CAB) initiative at TCNJ, and with two colleagues, received funding from the National Science Foundation (Award# 1914869) for an associated research study. She is, and has been, principal investigator (PI) or co-PI on multiple NSF grants related to computer science and STEM education. She integrates multidisciplinary collaborative projects in her courses, to create immersive learning experiences that deeply engage students with a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds. Students in her research lab are researching and implementing machine learning and collective intelligence algorithms, that harness the cognitive abilities of large numbers of human users to solve complex problems.

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Kim E. Pearson The College of New Jersey Orcid 16x16

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Kim Pearson is professor of journalism at The College of New Jersey who teaches a range of courses including Media Entrepreneurship, Fact, Checking and Race, Gender and the News. She is a co-founder of TCNJ’s Interactive Multimedia major. Her journalism has been published in the Online Journalism Review, Black Enterprise, and Newsday, among other outlets. She has been part of teams whose research on improving science literacy and civic engagement has garnered support from the National Science Foundation, Microsoft Research, and the New Jersey Council of the Humanities. Pearson is a past recipient of the New Jersey Professor of the Year award from the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for the Advancement and Support for Education. Her professional affiliations include the Online News Association, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Phi Kappa Phi and the National Association of Black Journalists. She serves as advisor for the campus chapter of Girls Who Code Her personal website is Prof. Pearson holds an AB in Politics from Princeton University with a Certificate in African American Studies and an MA in Journalism from New York University.

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Diane C. Bates The College of New Jersey

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Dr. Diane C. Bates is a Professor of Sociology, with research interest and expertise in retention in science disciplines.

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Colleges and universities offer most scientific content in courses offered by STEM departments (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), although many humanities, social sciences, and pre-professional disciplines require scientific literacy. This research study, funded through NSF Award No. 1914869, evaluates the Collaboration Across Boundaries (CAB) pedagogical model, a novel approach to infusing scientific literacy across disciplines. CAB incorporates project-based, community-engaged learning in undergraduate courses that pair STEM or social science students registered in one course with students in another course, including humanities and pre-professional disciplines. Over the past three years, we have conducted pre- and post-testing of 528 students at a primarily undergraduate institution in 30 courses to determine how students' learning changed after completing a course-based CAB project. Among the participating STEM courses that have collaborated with courses in other disciplines are: Database Systems (6 sections), Software Engineering (6 sections), Electronics (1 section), Environmental and Biotechnology Systems (1 section), and Fundamentals of (Civil) Engineering Design (1 section). Paired sample t-tests determined that students report their own scientific literacy (skills and thinking) improved from pre- to post-test, regardless of the discipline of the course and across teaching modalities (emergency pivot to remote, remote, hybrid, and in-person teaching). While there are significant differences at initial levels at which students report their own scientific literacy, analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicates that the mean change from pre- to post-test did not differ significantly between students enrolled in STEM, social science, or other courses. Standardized objective pre- to post-testing, including both the Test of Scientific Literacy (ToSLS) and a pilot measure created for this project, failed to produce consistent improvements, and generally indicated a decline from pre- to post-test. We suggest that an ungraded, online post-test given at the end of the semester is an unreliable instrument for objectively measuring student learning, particularly when student fatigue has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. While our subjective results suggest the effectiveness of this innovative pedagogy, future research should investigate whether a graded, course-specific assessment would be a better tool for evaluating how scientific literacy improved after completing a CAB project.

Pulimood, S. M., & Pearson, K. E., & Bates, D. C. (2023, June), Board 218: Assessing Scientific Literacy across the Undergraduate Curriculum: Preliminary Results from the Collaboration Across Boundaries (CAB) Pedagogical Study Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42640

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