In this one-year project, the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement is undertaking a coordinated set of activities to achieve three goals for sustaining SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) for another year and assist in its effort to become a self-sustaining enterprise. The first goal is to secure and extend benefits of the core SENCER faculty development program to current and newcomer cohorts of the STEM education reform community through the summer of 2012. Project elements supporting this goal are supervision of the completion of 39 SENCER-supported small implementation awards, continued provision of key core project elements (an e-newsletter, an on-line journal, the SENCER web site and digital library, the leadership fellows program, and house call consultations), planning the SENCER Summer Institute 2012, and continued administrative coordination for each of the six regional SENCER Centers for Innovation.
The second goal is to complete the analysis of several assessment and evaluation initiatives in order to guide future program initiatives. This is work is being done by an evaluation consultant and the SENCER Assessment Team working with other program staff and associates. Project elements are completion of the analysis of faculty surveys (including report preparation for publication), comparison of the survey findings with new findings from applications of the revised SENCER-SALG evaluation tool now in use on some campuses as well as campus reports from sub-awardees, and evaluation of the results of applications of a revised rubric (Rubric 2.0) to new SENCER courses (to assess depth and degree of reform elements within individual courses).
The third goal is to support the planning process designed to transition to independence from NSF support for SENCER core program operations.
SENCER courses and programs connect STEM content to critical local, national, and global challenges. Students and faculty report that the SENCER approach makes science more accessible, real, and relevant to the welfare of our democracy. SENCER improves science education by focusing on real world problems and, by so doing, extends the impact of this learning across the curriculum to the broader community and society. We do this by developing faculty expertise in teaching â€˜toâ€™ basic, canonical science and mathematics â€˜throughâ€™ complex, capacious, often unsolved problems of civic consequence. The SENCER community includes more than 2500 educators, administrators, students, and representatives of over 500 two and four-year colleges, universities, K-12 schools, government agencies, community-based organizations, and informal science education venues. Disciplines represented by these members of our community include chemistry, biology, mathematics, environmental studies, ecology, the humanities, biomedical and chemical engineering, computer science, geology, education, and more. SENCER published two issues of Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal, selected a new SENCER model, maintained a website with a searchable Digital Library, and released 31 issues of the eNews, and issued 10 implementation awards. Symposia including the 2012 SENCER Summer Institute, Washington Symposium and Capitol Hill Poster Session, and SENCER Center for Innovation regional meetings. The program recognized extraordinary leadership and promoted campus-based leadership development through the SENCER Leadership Fellows Program and the William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science. In surveys, participants strongly agreed or agreed that SENCER participation influenced instruction that increased student opportunities to (1) identify scientific problems and questions; (2) conduct measurements and/or observations to develop data sets; (3) analyze data sets to determine evidence or the need to conduct more measurements and observations; (4) analyze evidence to determine patterns; (5) analyze evidence to construct models; (6) use evidence patterns and/or models to generate or evaluate explanations; (7) make connections between science and civic problems/topics; and (8) make interdisciplinary connections. Respondents also indicated that SENCER participation had helped student achievement with components of 21st Century learning goals: (1) quantitative literacy; (2) ability to engage in critical thinking; (3) capacity to collaborate or engage in group work; (4) ability to discern good information from fraudulent claims; (5) cultivation of a global perspective; and (6) problem solving. Overall, the data clearly show that SENCER is improving science education and civic engagement across the nation, supporting the NSF's STEM education goals. The trends indicated by the data are clear and strong and show unequivocally that the SENCER project is not only working, but that it is getting better with time.