Science Education

PhD students enrolled in the ERIE IGERT program ar engaged in a number of activities designed to expand their doctoral training to include concepts and experiences relevant to science education. The two core activities are: (1) training and practice in Case Study Teaching, and (2) outreach to local K-12 science programs. ERIE’s emphasis on science education is motivated largely by the site-specific nature of ecosystem restoration projects. Although practitioners have assembled a large and growing array of restoration techniques, many methods have not been assessed through carefully designed scientific studies, and success is highly dependent on the particulars of local ecosystems and anthropogenic stressors. In addition to providing research to improve the scientific foundation for restoration practice, ERIE will enhance the impact of regional projects by developing educational outreach programs and curricular content for K-16 students and educators, including formalized and internationally disseminated case studies .

Case Studies in Science

The case study approach is particularly unique to UB, which has hosted the NSF-funded National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science (NCCSTS) since 1990, and has developed much of the methodology in current use. As an inquiry-based educational tool, case studies challenge students by engaging them in complex analytical and problem-solving tasks within a practical, real-world context. Carefully constructed cases deepen students’ conceptual understanding of material while providing a vehicle for synthesizing and applying knowledge. They are also effective tools for promoting an interdisciplinary perspective, for exploring the social, economic, political, legal, and ethical contexts in which scientific research and engineering design and practice occur, and for developing students’ oral and written communication skills .

All ERIE Trainees will attend a 1-week workshop on Case Studies in Science, offered by the NCCSTS. The content of this workshop is the development of scientific case studies and the use of case studies as a teaching tool. The Trainees will then partner with a doctoral candidate from another academic discipline to co-author a case study in ecosystem restoration, using the NCCSTS methodology.

Previous ERIE Outreach

ERIE Trainee Clabeaux teaches about her research at The Futures Academy in Buffalo