This past Friday, TWU hosted the SENCER Center for Innovation Southwest Spring Regional Symposium.
Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER), was developed from a grant application and has been continually funded by the National Science Foundation for 18 years. The goal has been to implement new pedagogical techniques in science, and SENCER is the only science education reform program that has been continually funded by the NSF for this long, according to Senior Lecturer for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Cynthia Maguire.
As part of these new pedagogical techniques, SENCER applies its goals through two stages. First, students are asked to address public issues that are unsolved: HIV/AIDS, air pollution and climate change, among others. Students learn about both the science and governmental policies that inform these issues, and they learn to apply what they learn towards a solution. Second, students are given a civic engagement assignment where they are asked to take what they have learned and engage with the public in an effort to educate and communicate. “When you connect it to the real world, they [the students] get passionate, and some of them actually get better grades because they know what they are doing matters,” said Assistant Professor for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Dr. Nasrin Mirsaleh Kohan.
At TWU, students completed these steps last fall by having a poster session at the Golden Triangle Mall in which they worked to engage the public with the things they were learning in their science courses.
TWU has been a leader in these new pedagogical techniques, and it has been recognized nationally for its efforts, having been singled out by the Association of American Colleges and Universities “as a model for how to make civic learning and democratic engagement an expectation for all students,” according to a recent TWU news release.
TWU’s passion for this pedagogical method is helping to spread it across the country, and this past week’s Spring Regional Symposium is likely another launching point toward continued success.