Breakout Sessions for Friday, September 8, 2023

Will Ash, University of Illinois at Chicago
Will Ash and Anita Kursell (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Open-Source Textbooks for large Undergraduate courses and lessons learned

In an era where the cost of traditional textbooks is a significant barrier to education, open educational resources (OER) have emerged as a viable solution with many benefits, including cost reduction, customization, and adaptability. But there are still many challenges to implementing this on a large scale. In this session we will present our experiences in replacing the traditional textbook for two large lecture courses to OER books at the University of Illinois at Chicago. One was a general education mathematics course and the other was a business calculus course. Both required a paid ebook and homework application. Specifically, we will discuss how the OER ebook was chosen and some of the challenges we found in making changes to the existing homework application to fit with our student needs. We will also discuss some best practices in teaching that helped the students in the course to achieve confidence and success.

We also address the technological infrastructure that underpins open-source textbooks. We explore platforms and tools that facilitate collaboration, version control, and continuous updates, ensuring that the content remains dynamic and relevant in an ever-evolving educational landscape.

John Baldwin, University of Illinois at Chicago
John Baldwin (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium

The inheritance patterns of single gene traits such as eye color and sickle cell anemia are often referred to as Mendelian. The Alleles are genes that occur at a specific location on the chromosome. Alleles are usually either dominant A or recessive a. So by stipulating which allele is inherited from each person, a person has genotype one of AA, Aa, aA, aa. A Punnett square ( contains the distribution of genotypes for a specific gene in a population. The Hardy-Weinberg theorem asserts that the gene distribution is not affected by certain kinds of events (e.g. harmful or beneficial effects, mutation, migration), it remains constant. More precisely, Theorem (Hardy-Weinberg) If an infinite pop- ulation satisfies 5 biological conditions the genome distribution in the next and all following generations remains the same. That is, the population is in Hardy- Weinberg equilibrium. This theorem is standard in high school Biology I. The treatment is often incomprehensible. E.g., the theorem is summarised as p + q = 1. I will describe the basics of Mendelian genetics which lead to such a Punnett square and Punnett’s asking Hardy whether the theorem was true. I will give the two or three paragraph proof ([BS15]) using the basic theory of proportion which is an upper middle grade to 9th grade topic, although I will be using the algebraic approach. The reason it is hard to grasp is the assumption that the population is infinite. Then I will ask small groups to discuss some problems from texts and the internet in terms of their mathematical and biological appropriateness. The paper is available at

Kathryn Chval, University of Illinois at Chicago
Kathryn Chval (University of Illinois at Chicago) and Sibrina Collins (Lawrence Technological University)
A Conversation with Sibrina Collins and Kathryn Chval

Are you interested in further discussions about making science and mathematics relatable to students in the classroom? Engage with the Symposium plenary speakers as they engage in discussion with participants about implications, actions, and advocacy related to ideas discussed throughout the day.

Pamela Geddes, Northeastern Illinois University
Pamela Geddes, PhD, Audrey Reynolds Distinguished Teaching Professor, Dept. of Biology and Environmental Science Program, Northeastern Illinois University
Some strategies and approaches to become more culturally-responsive in science classrooms: Small changes may lead to big gains

Engaging, retaining, and getting students to graduate in STEM careers is challenging for many reasons (Malcom 2007, National Academies Press 2011). Yet some of the challenges that our students experience are unique, particularly for those that are minoritized and marginalized. In this break-out session, I will discuss some of these challenges and I will share some of the strategies and approaches I have adopted and developed through the years in my journey to become more deliberate and intentional about being more inclusive and culturally-responsive in my teaching (Ladson-Billings 1995, Yosso 2005, Estrada-Hollenbeck et al. 2011, Prunuske et al. 2013, Trujillo and Tanner 2014; Rendon et al. 2019). Cultivating students’ sense of belonging and providing socio-cultural connections with their learning can be transformational for many underrepresented students (Sue et al. 2019, Hatfield 2022). Examples include strategies/activities in which I strive to: 1) Explicitly discuss the preponderance of white, Euro-centric, male-dominated narratives/lenses in the science topics we discuss and its consequences, 2) Incorporate real-world case studies drawn from a variety of issues and involving several cultures, and 3) Revise teaching materials to empower students to see themselves as scientists and to feel represented, included, and valued.

I would like to then open up the discussion with the audience so that participants can share 1) some of the challenges they have witnessed their students experience, and 2) strategies/activities/approaches participants have tried to address these challenges.

Aaron Schirmer, Northeastern Illinois University
Aaron Schirmer (Northeastern Illinois University), Cindy Voisine (Northeastern Illinois University), Molly McDonough (Chicago State University), & Nick Miller (Illinois Institute of Technology)
StRoNG Net: Advancing STEM Learning Through Non- Model Genome Research

Sequences of genomes from across the tree of life are being accumulated at an unprecedented rate. Often, genomes are sequenced by small research communities interested in particular taxa or biological phenomena. These communities lack the personnel needed for thorough manual curation of genome annotations. This presents a remarkable opportunity for students to engage in experiential learning by collaborating with scientists to improve genome annotations. StRoNG Net is a network of researchers, instructors, and students that collaborate to identify appropriate non-model Genomes, develop course materials, and establish Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs). Our network is focusing on CURE methods and practices that are inclusive and improve equity and access to research opportunities for students from underrepresented minorities in STEM. This presentation will focus on the history of StRoNG net and a CURE that was developed, implemented, and assessed at Northeastern Illinois University in 2022. The presentation will also discuss how to become involved in the network. Currently, StRoNG Net is looking to expand our network beyond Chicago and share resources and strategies for CURE instruction and assessment with a larger group of scientists. Our goal is to provide online and in-person opportunities for genome researchers and undergraduate instructors to connect and develop collaborations to enhance undergraduate research experiences.

Crystal Tse, University of Illinois at Chicago
Crystal Tse, Associate Director for Faculty Engagement in Action Research, Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence (CATE), University of Illinois Chicago Lauren Woods, Associate Director for Teaching Development Pathways & CIRTL@UIC, CATE
Introduction to Reflective Teaching and Research: Using Data-Informed Teaching Practices

As an instructor, how do you know if what you’re doing in the classroom is “working”? In other words, how do you know if your teaching methods are effective in supporting student achievement of your course learning objectives? How are you documenting your success and that of your students? When engaging in reflective teaching practices, instructors participate in teaching as a continuous improvement cycle, by engaging with students, collecting data, reflecting on that data, and planning and implementing changes based on their reflection and analysis (Brookfield, 2017). Reflective teaching practices can help instructors answer questions about their teaching and the student learning experience, such as: What does student success in my course look like? What is a course concept with which my students struggle the most — why is that and how can I help students overcome these conceptual barriers? How does a particular teaching strategy or intervention impact learning, motivation, engagement, belonging, and sense of community in my students? In this interactive session, participants will learn about different ways to engage in data-informed reflective teaching practices, including different methods and sources of data that can be used, such as student feedback (Angelo & Cross, 1993). Participants will also be given an overview of the different fields of research on teaching and learning, such as educational psychology, cognitive science, scholarship of teaching and learning, and action research (Kern et al., 2015; Williams, 2002). Example reflective teaching and research programs, projects, and courses from the Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence (CATE) and the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) will be shared with participants. Participants will work with their colleagues to brainstorm questions about their teaching, and they will come away from the session with resources on how to approach and conduct teaching and research projects. After participating in this interactive 60 minute breakout session, participants will be able to: ● Describe different ways of engaging in reflective teaching and research ● Brainstorm research questions about their teaching and student learning ● Explore methods for collecting student feedback as a source of data for teaching and learning research projects References: Angelo, T., and Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques : A Handbook for College Teachers. (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass Publishers. Brookfield, S. (2017). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. (2nd ed.). Jossey Bass. Kern, B., Mettetal, G., Dixson, M., & Morgan, R. K. (2015). The role of SoTL in the academy: Upon the 25th anniversary of Boyer’s Scholarship Reconsidered. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 1-14. Williams, K.M. (2002). Doing research to improve teaching and learning: A guide for college and university faculty. (2nd Ed.). Routledge.

Andrea Van Duzor, Chicago State University
Kyle A. Grice (DePaul University), Andrea G. Van Duzor (Chicago State University)
Visible Teaching in Chemistry - Sharing Learning Objects and and Professional Development through IONiC/VIPEr

In this breakout session, IONiC/VIPEr will be briefly introduced and participants will learn about and discuss teaching resources and opportunities for sharing knowledge and professional development. IONiC (Interactive Online Network of Inorganic Chemists) is a community of inorganic chemists focused on pedagogical development and curriculum design. The community of IONiC interacts through VIPEr (Virtual Inorganic Pedagogical Electronic Resource) sharing Learning Objects (activities, problem sets, literature discussions, labs, etc.), SLiThErs (Supporting Learning with Interactive Teaching: a Hosted, Engaging Roundtable), NanoCHAts (videos of informal conversations about teaching), the VIPErPit (Discord channel), and professional development opportunities.

While VIPEr forefronts inorganic chemistry, a multitude of Learning Objects are applicable to related chemistry areas of organic, physical, analytic, biochemistry, material science, and beyond. The IONiC/VIPEr model is also applicable to other fields in STEM who are interested in creating shared visible teaching and professional development opportunities. All are welcome!

Sara Woods, Northwestern University
Sara Woods, Northwestern University
Metropolitan Chicago Data-Science Corps (MCDC)

Established and funded by an NSF grant from 2021 to 2024, the MCDC is a collaboration of data science students and experts and community organizations from multiple Chicagoland universities and colleges. Students participating in the MCDC must complete one year of data science courses chosen from a wide range of courses that reflect multiple pathways (examples include the intersection of data science with fields like the health sciences, social sciences, and environmental sciences), register for a MCDC data science practicum, and apply for an in-depth summer research experience called Data Science Application for Undergraduates. The work performed by these students, guided by faculty and other experts at the Chicago-area institutions part of the MCDC, involves data from non-profit organizations in the area that are experiencing challenges or facing new opportunities related to the process of turning data into insights. Evaluation of student experience so far indicates that working with data is helpful for students’ career preparation, developing communication skills, managing data, implementing data skills and working with data provided by an outside source. Students also report their biggest motivation for joining MCDC is to gain hands-on data science experience.