Phys.org published a report on an observation protocol that can document college instruction and student learning of STEM that was developed by Michelle Smith, assistant professor in the University of Maine’s School of Biology and Ecology and member of the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education. Over a two-year period, Smith and three researchers from the University of British Columbia, tested and validated the Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS) by which observers document instructor and student behaviors in two-minute intervals during the class period. The results can help inform professors of their behaviors and the behaviors of students during class.
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Robert Rice, a professor of wood science and technology at the University of Maine, spoke with the Bangor Daily News for an article about innovation playing an important role in the future of Maine’s pulp and paper industry. The article states an integral part of the innovations occurring at Old Town Fuel and Fiber is the mill’s collaboration with UMaine and its Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI). The relationship gives the mill the opportunity to take advantage of R&D capabilities it wouldn’t necessarily have access to. Rice said there are no huge changes in technology that will suddenly appear, but he thinks the industry’s economics have the potential to change over time with the addition of new conversions and methods.
Applications are now being accepted for the 2014–2015 Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs Scholarship. The $3,500 scholarship is open to undergraduate students of all majors who are conducting research on a topic related to public policy. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be a Maine resident or currently enrolled at UMaine and taking at least 12 credits, be an undergraduate student with a GPA of at least 3.0, and have completed 40 credit hours before the current semester. The scholarship will be awarded in two installments of $1,750 per semester. The scholarship program is administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center with the assistance of a university selection committee. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 11. More information, including the application, is available online.
K. Lira Yoon, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Maine, received a $14,989 grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation for the second half of the first year of research on menstrual cycle modulation of the relation between cortisol and reward sensitivity in depression. Depression is more prevalent in women than men. Yoon’s project will provide a better understanding of major depressive disorder, focusing on the mechanisms that put women at a greater risk for the disorder.
A University of Maine professor helped develop an observation protocol that can document college instruction and student learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Michelle Smith, assistant professor in UMaine’s School of Biology and Ecology and a member of the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education, designed the classroom observation protocol with three researchers from the University of British Columbia.
Over a two-year period, Smith and her colleagues developed, tested and validated the Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS) by which observers document instructor and student behaviors in two-minute intervals during the class period.
“Many observation protocols ask observers to rate instructor quality, but the COPUS focuses on how students and instructors are spending the time,” says Smith.
The resulting data, which can be put into pie chart form, informs professors of their behaviors and the behaviors of students during class. The information is valuable in light of research that indicates undergraduate college students learn more in courses with active-engagement instruction.
A total of 13 student behaviors are documented, including listening to instructor/taking notes, working in groups, answering a question with the rest of the class listening, and engaging in whole class discussion.
A total of 12 instructor behaviors are codified, include lecturing, asking a clicker question, listening to and answering student questions with class listening, guiding ongoing student work during active learning task, and one-on-one extended discussion with one or a few individuals.
Educators can use the information to better understand how they utilize classroom time, as well as identify possible professional development needs. Observation data can also be used to supplement faculty tenure/promotion documentation, Smith says.
Several Maine middle and high school teachers helped Smith and her colleagues test and modify the protocol. “The local teachers were enormously helpful,” says Smith. “They are very dedicated to partnering with UMaine to enhance the STEM education experience for all students.”
The researchers’ article, “The Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS): A New Instrument to Characterize University STEM Classroom Practices,” was published in the Winter 2013 edition of CBE-Life Sciences Education. The article was highlighted as an Editor’s Choice in the Feb. 7, 2014 edition of Science magazine.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Alper Kiziltas, a doctoral student in the University of Maine’s School of Forest Resources, was named by the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) as the recipient of the 2013–2014 PerkinElmer Graduate Scholarship.
The PerkinElmer Instruments Co., in conjunction with the Composites Division of SPE, sponsors the annual $2,000 scholarship dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of information on the science, engineering fundamentals and applications of advanced polymer composite materials. This year, more than 40 applications were reviewed and judged by six members of the SPE Composites Division.
Kiziltas will accept the award in April during SPE’s annual technical conference — ANTEC 2014 — in Las Vegas. His research, as described in the winning abstract, will be presented at the conference.
Kiziltas conducts research at UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center under the supervision of Douglas Gardner, professor of forest operations, bioproducts and bioenergy, and in collaboration with Hemant Pendse, department chair of chemical and biological engineering.
Kiziltas is currently working in composite material development and processing, including nanocomposites and reinforced engineering plastics for automotive applications. His particular interest lies in the development of sustainable composite materials sourced from recyclable materials such as bio-based resins, cellulose, discarded carpet fibers and natural fibers that serve as reinforcements for bio-based micro- and nanocomposites. His work is supported by UMaine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“Alper’s research skills span over diverse fields such as nanomaterials, polymer processing, bio-based composites and sustainability. He is extremely innovative, unpretentious, collegial and cooperative,” says Gardner.
Kiziltas spent the 2013 summer and fall semesters working in plastics research at Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich. While at Ford, he studied ways to extend the use of soy in polyurethane flexible foams for seat cushions and seat backs as well as sustainable nylon composites for under-the-hood applications.
Kiziltas is the author of more than 10 publications in journals such as Applied Nanoscience and the Journal of Nanoparticle Research. He has presented results of his research in several national and international conferences and has won more than 15 awards including Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE) Graduate Scholarship Award from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), the Dean’s Undergraduate Mentoring Award at UMaine’s 2013 Grad Expo, first place in the 2012–2013 SPE ACCE poster competition, and 2013 outstanding Ph.D. student in UMaine’s College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture.
Rep. Mick Devin of Newcastle who is also a researcher and shellfish hatchery manager at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center was interviewed for a WLBZ (Channel 2) report titled “Crabs and climate change pose threat to Maine shellfish.” Researchers at the Darling Marine Center say climate change is putting more carbon in the ocean which lowers the pH level and makes the water more acidic. Devin said ocean acidification will hurt more than clams because all marine animals are used to living and evolving in a certain pH range. He said scientists and the shellfish industry need to learn a lot more in order to cope with ocean acidification.
A proposed offshore wind pilot project by Maine Aqua Ventus, which includes the University of Maine and partner companies, was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article about businesses working to launch offshore wind energy facilities urging Congress to renew tax credits that would help kick-start an industry that could bring jobs to Maine and other coastal states. Doug Pfeister, president of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition, called the prototype floating wind turbine launched off the coast of Castine by UMaine and Cianbro last June “a great first step” for the offshore wind industry.
WVII (Channel 7) spoke with David Neivandt, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Maine, about a new implant created through a collaboration between Eastern Maine Health Care Systems doctors and UMaine engineering students and researchers. The researchers said the implant has the potential to revolutionize the way doctors mount prosthetics and mend broken bones. Neivandt said the implant, which can be created using 3-D polymer printing, has a porous structure that cuts down on infection and decreases the need for antibiotics.
WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) interviewed Jenny Shrum, a Ph.D. candidate in the ecology and environmental sciences graduate program in the University of Maine School of Biology and Ecology. Shrum is researching the biophysical relationships between weather and sap flow. Her goal is to better understand what drives flow and how expected trends in climate may affect the processes and harvesters in the future. Shrum showed the reporters two of her research sites where she is tapping and has set up weather stations. The Weekly also carried a report on Shrum’s research.