In the Field: Update from the Wilderness & Place in Maine (TERRAIN testbed) Team

 

This week, the instructional team really hit their stride during Integrated Project time! Earlier in the week, the groups went to Scarborough Marsh, where they canoed, hiked, and gathered data on water quality and bird species. They also gathered mud samples. During Integrated Project the next day, students learned how to perform serial dilutions (applied mathematics) and techniques for plating bacteria. Next week, they will be examining and characterizing the colonies that grow on their plates, and connecting to key concepts underlying biological classification and mathematics (exponential growth). The team found that having multiple professors (e.g., math and biology instructors) present during the Integrated Project work session enriched the experience for students by supporting more explicit connections across content disciplines and provided an opportunity to model professional discourse among colleagues.

 

One of the students shared that he is “not great at science and math” and has “assumed [he wants] to be a warden.” But, after handling scientific laboratory equipment for the first time during the Integrated Project, he realized that “maybe [he] could be a wildlife biologist.” This is only one anecdote, but it does suggest that the TERRAIN context can help us achieve our goal of exposing first year students to a variety of career possibilities. Moreover, it helps us see how students who are not initially motivated to engage with mathematics and science (or other topics) may access these domains more readily through immersive, contextualized experiences and with the guidance of a skilled instructional team.

 

The TERRAIN students also continued to work on their Professional Development pathway in Portfolium, with guidance from Rachel Kahn and Kristine McCallister. This week students focused on resumé writing. In addition, they completed the College Learning Effectiveness Inventory (CLEI), a component of their Personal Development pathway in Portfolium. The CLEI is a tool to measure psychosocial variables that impact success, especially among first-year college students. In a week or two, each TERRAIN student will receive a summary of his/her responses along with a description of strategies and resources available to support growth related to each of the factors measured by the CLEI sub-scales (e.g., time management, stress reduction, etc.). At the end of the term, each student will report (in Portfolium) on progress toward one specific growth goal.

 

Behind the Scenes

 

During Sustaining the Flagship meetings this week, we continued to plan for specific TERRAIN roles in Canvas and identified the need for a few modifications to the TERRAIN informational slide show based on responses from parents and students during Instant Admissions Day. Overall response from IAD visitors was very positive. Parents were particularly quick to express support for grounding liberal arts concepts and skills in meaningful contexts. They also wanted more information about how AP credits would impact students’ schedule and what their transcripts will look like. The STF team is working with Kelsey Gilbert and Heather McAnirlin to address these questions ahead of Open House on October 19th.

 

— Jen

 

 

Jennifer L. Cartier, Ph.D. (she, her, hers)

Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship

Professor of Education

Unity College

Unity, Maine 04998

(412) 215-6511 (cell, preferred)

(207) 509-7282 (office)

 

Office: Constable Hall 201