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Project SYNAPSE

SYNthesizing And Practicing Science Education (SYNAPSE) is an integrated curriculum between general chemistry and biology laboratories unified by writing to create a common theme of inquiry for first-year students. By nurturing collaborative science through communication, the project encourages students to recognize important ties among disciplines and promotes more effective learning and scientific discourse. The project goal is to improve students’ learning and attitudes by dissolving deep-rooted compartmentalization of scientific disciplines by answering the following research questions: (i) Does student understanding and attitude improve when instruction takes on a holistic integrated approach? and (ii) To what extent can integrated first-year curricula and teaching techniques be adopted by other universities? This project unites the three courses in order to improve capacities to synthesize knowledge across disciplines, build contextual frameworks for assimilating new knowledge, develop proficiency in laboratory and writing skills, and improve student attitudes toward science.

Goals

  • To improve students’ capacities to synthesize knowledge across disciplines

  • To build contextual frameworks for assimilating new knowledge

  • To develop proficiency in laboratory and writing skills

  • To improve student attitudes toward science

Participation

  • Participants are currently being selected for the 2013-2014 academic year. A select group of first year incoming students are elibigle to enroll in the project each year. Invitations are made based on a student's intended major and course schedule. To participate in the project, studentst are required to be enrolled in a full year of General Chemistry, a full year of General Biology, Writing and the Environment, and a spring synthesis seminar.

Courses

  • Integrated General Chemistry and General Biology lab, fall, ESF 296-2 (sample syllabus)
  • Writing and the Environment, fall, EWP 190-3 (sample syllabus)
  • Integrated General Chemistry and General Biology lab, spring, ESF 296-1 (sample syllabus)
  • Communication in the Sciences, spring, ESF 296-2 (sample syllabus)

SYNAPSE Team

Funding

This project is supported by the NSF TUES program, Award 1140655.


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