AAAS Pacific Division

91st Annual Meeting
Ashland, OR

13 – 17 June 2010


Promoting Meaningful Learning
Monday afternoon, 14 June
Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER)
Tuesday morning, 15 June
A Discussion on the Value of Advanced Placement Programs from High School and University Perspectives
Tuesday afternoon, 15 June

Evidence–Based Research, the Science of Research Synthesis: Implications and Applications in the Delivery of Health Care
All day Tuesday, 15 June
Science and Religion: A Philosophical Look at Issues and Approaches
Wednesday morning, 16 June
Geometry as a Design Tool
All day Wednesday, 16 June


Promoting Meaningful Learning

Monday, 14 June

Session length: half–day

Organizer: Kathleen Fisher (Professor Emerita, Department of Biology, and Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA; 619–851–4479, kfisher@sciences.sdsu.edu).

Description: Semantica® is a commercial product developed by Semantic Research Inc. (SRI) in San Diego. It is descended from SemNet®, a semantic networking tool developed by the author’s research group at UC–Davis in the early eighties. Earlier versions of Semantica / SemNet have been used widely, primarily in higher education, in business settings in the US and Europe, and in K–12 classes. The author and a graduate student introduced Semantica into High Tech Middle School in San Diego last year.
Research suggests that when students organize the knowledge they are acquiring in the form of a semantic network, their learning and retention are enhanced significantly. Further, students may also acquire desirable and lasting learning habits.

When a faculty member reviews a semantic network, s/he can often diagnose a student’s particular learning problems and give very explicit feedback to improve that student’s learning. This benefit is particularly pronounced with ESL students, who often haven’t yet mastered the verbs critical for understanding the topic. For example, a student who doesn’t know the difference between ‘has a part’ and ‘is a part of’ has difficulty mastering biology. In general, verbs are more challenging to learn than nouns and are learned later than nouns.

Workshop participants will take away a CD containing a free copy of the Semantica  program they just learned, the Semantica Manual, sample semantic networks in various sciences and other subjects, and brief papers describing Semantica–based teaching, studying, problem–solving and grading strategies. Participants will be authorized to share their software with their students and install it in university/school classrooms.

Evidence–based Research, the Science of Research Synthesis: Implicatins and Applications in the Delivery of Health Care

Tuesday, 15 June

Session length: All day

Organizer: Francesco Chiappelli (UCLA School of Dentistry, University of California, Los Angeles; e–mail

Description: Evidence–based medicine/nursing/dentistry is a complex process of health care delivery that rests on three distinct scientific domains. First, evidence–based research seeks to evaluate pre–clinical and clinical research in order to obtain the "best available" evidence by means of systematic reviews and meta–analyses. Second, in the context of developing evidence–based clinical practice, the best available evidence is integrated in carefully crafted revisions of clinical practice guidelines. Third, the actual delivery of evidence–based health care rests on the integration of decision–making theories (e.g., utility theory) articulated so as to favor the integration of revised clinical practice guidelines into clinical intervention. Together, these three elements proffer evidence–based modes of treatment for optimizing clinical outcomes for the benefit of the patient. Thus, evidence–based health care rests fundamentally on the initial evaluative evidence–based research synthesis step for identifying the "best available" evidence. The goal of this workshop is to provide the audience with the basic skills and tools to perform evidence–based research.

Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER)

Tuesday, 15 June

Session length: half–day

Organizer: Amy Schacter (Associate Provost, Office of Research Initiatives, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA; 408–551–7041, ashacter@scu.edu).

Co–organizer: Stephen Carroll (Department of English, Santa Clara University); bscarroll@scu.edu).

Description: Initiated in 2001, Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) is a national dissemination project funded by the National Science Foundation. SENCER has established and supported an ever–growing community of faculty, students, academic leaders, and others to improve undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education for non–science majors by connecting learning to critical civic questions. In 2007, the SENCER project established five regional SENCER Centers of Innovation (SCI).  The SCIs expand the work of SENCER by organizing regional workshops designed to foster a multi– and interdisciplinary approach to science education with a focus on civic engagement.  SCI–West is organizing this workshop to provide opportunities for AAAS members to engage SENCER faculty, discuss SENCER approaches, and consider developing regional collaborations. The AAAS Pacific Division SENCER workshop will have four one–hour segments:

  • SENCER Overview and Model Courses (Amy Shachter, Santa Clara University)
    A dynamic introduction to the SENCER project including an overview of an interdisciplinary set of SENCER Model courses.
  • Designing a SENCER course (Amy Shachter, Santa Clara University)
    An interactive workshop that takes participants through a nine step program to design a SENCER science course.
  • Assessment using the SENCER Self–Assessment of Learning Gains Instrument (Stephen Carroll, Santa Clara University)
    An introduction to the SALG instrument and how it can be used to understand perceptions of student learning gains.

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A Discussion on the Value of Advanced Placement Programs from High School and University Perspectives

Tuesday, 15 June

Session length: half–day

Organizers: William B.N. Berry (University of California, Berkeley, CA; bberry@berkeley.edu) and William Wiecking (Harai`i Preparatory Academy, Kamuela, HI; bill@hpa.edu).

Description: This discussion/workshop will begin  to address the topic of the value of Advanced Placement courses at the high school level. Perspectives will come from high school students and instructors, university professors, and others interested in this very important issue. Three foci of the workshop will be:

  • Benefits and drawbacks of high school AP programs from the student, parent, instructor and professor's perspectives.
  • How can we best prepare our students for the future? Is AP part of the solution, part of the problem, or part of both?
  • Field studies: a prototype for a new level of AP curriculum?

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Geometry as a Design Tool

Wednesday, 16 June

Session length: full day

Organizer: Rochelle Newman (Professor Emerita, Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill, MA; 541–708–5141, pythpress@sprynet.com).

Description: No art or math experience is necessary, just a desire to play with ideas and materials. All supplies and hand–outs are included in the $5.00 workshop fee.

This hands–on workshop, with an introductory slide discussion, has an interdisciplinary approach to exploring relationships that exist in the world of nature, the domain of forms and the arena of ideas. Space, common to Art, Mathematics and Nature, is the central focus. Examining the natural world, participants use geometry as the design tool for creating art works. Emphasis is placed on taking a concept through craft to a completed composition. The thread that weaves this activity together are the concepts of the Golden Ratio and the Divine Proportion.

Science and Religion: A Philosophical Look at Issues and Approaches

Wednesday, 16 June

Session length: half day

Organizer: Prakash Chenjeri (Associate Professor, Southern Oregon University, Ashland, OR; 541–552–6034, chenjeri@sou.edu).

Description: This workshop will explore some of the critical issues that science and religion have contested focusing primarily on the methodological and epistemological questions.

The half–day session will include a panel discussion and a documentary exploring the interaction between science and religion by looking at some of the landmark issues that have punctuated their relationship over the last five hundred years. Among the topics explored are: nature of scientific method; the trial of Galileo and its implications; implications of Newton’s mechanistic worldview; Darwinian revolution and the post–Darwinian controversies, in particular the debate over the ‘intelligent design’ argument; faith and reason; and cosmology and questions of origin. The session will also examine the question: Does science make belief in religion obsolete?   

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