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Peter's plan:

  • In the near future we should generate a written synopsis of each particular program component. This mock 'executive summary' should include: 1) Brief summary, 2) Statement of (educational) outcomes, 3) Mode of assessment, 4) Timeframes, and 4) Preliminary budget.

1. Summary:

Based upon our prior experience with the HHMI funded Bridge program and on conversations among biology and chemistry faculty teaching these subjects at the introductory level, we propose an intensive 4-week Bridge-like course. This course, called “Catalyst”, will be targeted at twelve students finishing their first year in the sciences and who have shown promise but whose performance is not meeting their (or our) expectations. We have had extensive experience in this area through the previous Bridge program that involved rising sophomores as well as in-coming first year students and through individualized attention from various faculty. (Our success have included: ----- ----- -----…Something about Kjersti, Lacey, Farid, Kalani, etc.)

Catalyst will be a 4-week course offered during the College’s established May-term program. Potential participants will be identified from the pool of students in Principles of Chemistry (Chem 111), Cells, Genes, and Inheritance (Bio 112), and Organic Chemistry 1 (Chem 221). Applications will be open to all students, but faculty will especially encourage those students we believe to be on the brink of success. Promise as a scientist, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to academics will be major criteria for selection.

Faculty in the Earlham sciences have a strong sense of their students’ abilities beyond what is represented by course grades. This knowledge comes from working closely with students in lecture, lab, and in our offices. Because we share many of the same students across these courses, we also can gain a perspective of a student’s potential for improvement beyond a simple evaluation in one course.

Our collective experiences and the literature (yadayada) indicate to us that an intensive investment such as the Catalyst program is greatly beneficial to the future and long term success of these students.

(Something about how we are a college that makes differences in the lives of their students and this includes the sciences)

Catalyst will be facilitated by two Earlham faculty (one biologist and one chemist) and two student TAs (TAs would be upper-level biology or bio/chem majors; after the first year, potential TAs could be selected from those having previously completed the program) The program will focus on a biology/chemistry interdisciplinary laboratory research project (see below). The projects selected will be designed to give the identified student cohort the opportunity to strengthen both their subject area knowledge-base and their laboratory knowledge and skills. As important as strengthening their knowledge and skills will be enhancing their sense of themselves as learners and participants in a science community. (Insert some stuff here from “How People Learn”). The projects would also introduce some of the advanced methods and topic areas each student will encounter in later biology and chemistry courses. Participation in this program will support and motivate the student cohort as they develop confidence as rising biology and chemistry students. Students participating in this program will receive academic credit. At the end of the grant period, we would begin to offer this program as a regular May-term course offering.

We have elected to shift our focus from our previous HHMI grants which targeted mostly incoming first year students to rising sophomores. We believe that we will be better able to identify those students that will benefit most from the intensive experience having ad the students in class rather than just having a blind application as we have ad in the past. Because we will work with rising sophomores for this experience, we have moved the course from August to May. As mentioned above, the College has an established May term program that will allow Catalyst to continue after HHMI funding expires. Timing the experience in May also greatly simplifies on-campus logistics such as room and board.

Potential interdisciplinary laboratory project themes include: (These may need expanded slightly for clarity. Is there another project theme (or two) that might be added? A. Flavonoids & Protein Expression and analysis (Mike) B. Ethnobotany and Medicinal Chemistry (Mark and David) C. Green Fluorescent Protein mutants (Olen)

2. Educational Outcomes:

The overall goal of this program is to increase the retention of those students identified as struggling (see Target Group below) in the biological and chemical sciences by involving them in a biology/chemistry interdisciplinary project that will support and motivate the students as they develop confidence as rising biology and chemistry students. The science strengthening and confidence building of this experience will also enable those students completing the program to be potential peer-leaders in their following fall semester courses.

3. Mode of Assessment/Evaluation:

Assessment and evaluation of the program can begin with evaluations/surveys completed by the participants and instructors at the close of the May-term. Further assessment would continue in the fall and subsequent semesters. The most obvious and simplest measurement would be to calculate the percent retained from the cohort and compare this with students that did not participate in the program (both those students with similar prior scores and those that had higher prior scores than the cohort). Of those students retained, further measure of progress and relative performance of program participants to their non-participant peers would be evaluated.

4. Timeframes, etc.:

This program would run from the first Monday to the last Friday of each May-term providing for four (4), five-day participation weeks and three (3) weekends of activities (social and/or educational TBA).

Target Group: Twelve (12) rising sophomore students identified as academically struggling during their first year of course-work, specifically during Principles of Chemistry (Chem 111), Cells, Genes, and Inheritance (Bio 112), and Organic Chemistry 1 (Chem 221). We would give preference to those students from underrepresented groups (including 1st generation college students).

Faculty Participants: Ideally, each project should be chosen and developed such that it is NOT limited to a specific faculty-member specialty.

Student TAs: Students that have already completed at least their 2nd year and have completed at least the equivalent of Chem 111, 221, and 321; and Bio 112 and 341.

5. Preliminary Budget:

Very roughly estimated at $157,000 for strictly those items listed below. No budget has been calculated for AY-releases if needed for development, etc.

  • Faculty stipends/fica (2 x 4 weeks plus development time)
  • TA stipends/fica (2 x weeks)
  • Student rooms (2 per room for total of 6 rooms?)
  • Student meals (3 meals per day x 26 days x 12 students)\
  • Travel
  • Extracurricular/co-curricular activities (weekends primarily)
  • Supplies
  • Small equipment
  • Honoraria

Notes/Questions from the Sub-group meetings:

Still remaining questions:

1. Barbara will be checking with Patty L regarding how off-campus and other related programs do credits, etc. Mike will later check with Bonita.

2. Name for the program: "Catalyst"? There is a starting point.

3. Peter was working on the identification of underrepresented groups; our definition, etc.

4. Faculty commitment:

   Mark (one or more summers beginning no earlier than Summer-2010)

5. Additional project themes needed?