College of Science Distinguished Speaker: Measuring Meaningful Learning and Mindset

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stacey lowery bretz rit

COS Distinguished Speaker
Measuring Meaningful Learning and Mindset: Students’ Expectations, Experiences, and Beliefs about Intelligence in the Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratory

Dr. Stacey Lowery Bretz
University Distinguished Professor
Special Assistant to the Provost for Academic Initiatives
Miami University

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Every college student majoring in science or engineering takes multiple laboratory courses throughout their college education. While faculty cannot imagine teaching without laboratory, little evidence exists to claim that students actually engage in meaningful learning experiences in these courses. The typical role of the college laboratory in student learning has largely remained one of confirming principles presented in lecture rather than exploration and concept development. One challenge with measuring students’ learning in the laboratory is that few measurement tools specific to the context of laboratory exist. This seminar will describe the development of two such assessment tools.
Meaningful learning requires that students choose to create connections between their prior knowledge and the material to be learned. For meaningful learning to occur, students must actively integrate not only their thinking and the doing of their laboratory work, but also their feelings and beliefs. We created the Meaningful Learning in the Laboratory Instrument (MLLI) to measure students' cognitive and affective expectations for conducting experiments in the undergraduate chemistry laboratory and to compare those expectations to their experiences. Students’ beliefs about their intelligence, known as mindset, are context dependent and have not been previously characterized in a chemistry laboratory. Mindset reflects students’ beliefs about the role of effort and ability as they contribute to success, especially in moments of confusion, uncertainty, or errors in the lab. We created the Intelligence Mindset in the Chemistry Laboratory (IMCL) instrument to measure students’ mindset. This seminar will present data from multiple research projects using the MLLI and IMCL to investigate students’ expectations for learning in the college chemistry laboratory, their experiences during these courses, and their beliefs about intelligence in the college chemistry laboratory. The implications for pedagogy and assessment within college laboratory courses will be discussed.

Speaker Bio:
Stacey Lowery Bretz holds the rank of University Distinguished Professor at Miami University in Oxford, OH in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. During the 2021-2022 academic year, she is a Fellow of the American Council on Education in residence at the Office of the Chancellor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Dr. Bretz earned her B.A. in chemistry from Cornell University in 1989 and an M.S. in chemistry from Penn State in 1992. She earned her Ph.D. in chemistry education research (CER) at Cornell University in 1994 and completed a post-doc in CER in the Department of Chemistry at UC Berkeley.
Dr. Bretz's research expertise includes the development of assessments to characterize students’ understanding of multiple representations (particulate, symbolic, and macroscopic) and learning in the chemistry laboratory. She has 103 peer-reviewed publications, given 183 invited seminars, and been awarded external funding in excess of $5M to support her research.
Dr. Bretz is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She won the 2020 ACS Award for Achievement in Research on Teaching and Learning of Chemistry. She is currently Chair of the ACS Division of Chemical Education. She served on the National Academy of Science/National Research Council Committee on Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER). She chaired the Gordon Conference on Chemistry Education Research and Practice in 2005 and has been an invited speaker at this conference four times. She was appointed to the Board of Trustees for the American Chemical Society Examinations Institute from 2002-2015; she served as Chair of the Board from 2009-2014.
Dr. Bretz was honored with Miami University’s highest faculty distinction: the Benjamin Harrison Medallion in 2020 and both of Miami University’s highest awards for teaching: the E. Phillips Knox Award for Undergraduate Teaching in 2009 and the Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Graduate Instruction and Mentoring in 2013. She is a co-author on two general chemistry textbooks that feature pedagogy developed from her research on assessment: Chemistry (6th edition) and Chemistry: An Atoms-Focused Approach (3rd edition), as well as the first ever AP textbook for high school chemistry using an atoms-focused approach, all published by W.W. Norton.

Intended Audience:
No background knowledge required. All are welcome.

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Melanie Green
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When and Where
September 15, 2021
1:25 pm - 2:20 pm
Room/Location: See Zoom Registration Link

Open to the Public

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