The Connecting Researchers, Educators and Students (CREST) program (http://cbm.msoe.edu/crest) is designed to advance use of physical and computer based models of molecular structures to enhance student learning, introduce students to science research and to determine the impact of these additions to the learning environment. Both the 3-D printed protein models and the accompanying learning materials are produced by teams of students and faculty in consultation with researchers whose work is described in the materials or based on a reading of the appropriate primary literature. This current project is disseminating the CREST approach to other institutions through workshops and web-based materials. The project also adds to the information concerning the learning outcomes evolving from CREST since it focuses on the rigorous assessment of the impact of the program on student learning at three large institutions (UW-Madison, Stony Brook University and Rochester Institute of Technology), while simultaneously testing new paradigms of scalability and dissemination across the nation. A new component of this expansion project involves partnering with the Medical College of Wisconsin to offer training to future faculty in student-centered, active pedagogy.
The intellectual merit of this proposal is that it responds to recent calls to transform undergraduate education so that students actively engage in science discourse and practice and the strength and experience of the leadership team.
The broader impact of this project is the information it is gathering on the importance of physical models and visualization in helping students understand biochemical and molecular processes and their importance in metabolic and pharmaceutical processes.