Winter 2019: From the Editors

We are pleased to announce the Winter 2019 issue of Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal.

This issue focuses on undergraduate research and civic engagement, which readers will see reflected in three articles. Jay Labov (retired, National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine), Kerry Brenner (National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine), and Cathy H. Middlecamp (University of Wisconsin-Madison) contribute a review that summarizes the work to date on undergraduate research experiences (UREs), much of which is discipline based. The authors then explore the potential for UREs which integrate civic engagement, both from the perspective of challenges and potential benefits. An interdisciplinary URE coupled with civic engagement that has operated for several years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is used as an illustrative example by the authors. 

Drew Sieg (Truman State University), Joshua Sabatini (Passaic County Community College), Davida Smyth (New School), and several faculty from Mercy College—Nancy Beverly, Madhavan Narayanan, and Geetha Surendran—collaborate on an article that describes their efforts and experiences at two liberal arts institutions to promote civic and scientific engagement through undergraduate research and project-based learning. This article complements the one by Labov, Brenner, and Middlecamp in several different ways: the type of institutions involved and the contrasting approaches taken by faculty at two institutions on how to connect civic engagement with project-based learning and course-based undergraduate research. 

Finally, Jeffrey Olimpo, Jennifer Apodaca, Aimee Hernandez, and Yok-Fong Paat (all at the University of Texas at El Paso) describe their work with “Health Disparities in the Border Region,” a course-based undergraduate research experience with a clear civic engagement dimension. Their work focuses particularly on student development of public outreach skills, researcher self-efficacy, and understanding of research-community connections. Their mixed methods study showed evidence of significant improvement by the end of the semester in these different areas. 

We are particularly happy to present all three articles in the same issue, as we feel this will provide readers of the journal with more opportunities for reflection. It is our hope that these three articles will contribute to the ongoing discussion of how the high-impact practices of undergraduate research and civic engagement can continue to be connected.

In addition to the above three articles that explore undergraduate research and civic engagement, we are also pleased to publish three different pieces. Rebecca Mazumdar, Nadia Benakli, and Pamela Brown (New York City College of Technology) describe how a virtual learning community involving freshmen students enrolled in chemistry, English, and math helped promote student engagement and persistence. The courses in the virtual learning community were linked by the impact of human activities on the environment, specifically the de-icing of roads with salt.

Alicia Wodika (Illinois State University) describes the Global Public Health course offered at her institution, which focuses on the complexity of communicable and non-communicable diseases, determinants of health, and delivery of health services. As part of a campus “International Education Week,” groups of students in the course created posters on such topics as disease reduction, cash transfer programs, health systems comparisons, and emergency preparedness. The evidence collected indicated that students saw the project as helping them develop an appreciation for how vast the subject of global health is.

Finally, Marisha Speights Atkins, Cheryl Seals, and Dallin Bailey (all from Auburn University) describe the development of a computation tool that automatically grades the phonetic transcription assignments that constitute an important part of the speech pathology curriculum. The development of this particular tool provided a service learning opportunity for students in a User Design Interface course  offered by Auburn’s Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering to meet a real need of students and faculty in the Department of  Communication Disorders.

We would like to thank all the authors for sharing their work with the readers of this journal.

Matt Fisher and Trace Jordan

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