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What challenges or obstacles have you encountered while working on your project?  What solutions to overcome these challenges did you find?  Are you still facing these difficulties?


Holly Ahern

The biggest challenge of all was TIME! Teaching overload, trying to revise an existing bio pre-requisite course, developing and implementing new curricular tools, writing a paper (finishing the abstract, at least!), writing a grant, writing the AoM report for the Liberal Arts Math/Science major at the college...whew..  If I write a successful grant, there will be release time to facilitate the research activities at least. But I think that as long as I remain a community college professor, time will be my limiting factor!



Teri Balser




Daron Barnard

 The biggest challenge to me was the start and stop nature of the research.  Collecting data at the beginning of the semester and then at the end made it hard to stay focused on the project.   Group calls and other checking in mechanisms helped with keeping me engaged.


Patricia Baynham

Challenges!  It was challenging to host the speakers and still cover the same topics as I had previously.  Some speakers had to reschedule repeatedly and this was disruptive.  I wish I had asked the students first semester why they were more likely to consider a research career since it may or may not have been due to the speakers.  One student was very vocal to other faculty regarding the loss of learning time while most students were incredibly enthusiastic.  Some students refused to give their gender in the second survey which was a bit frustrating.  The Chemistry Department has now introduced a seminar series that is also designed to impact students' career plans and so I do not plan to continue this work.


Christopher Burke

Time on task. Since the beginning of 2008, the academic department in which I am located has undergone major reorganization, with a tripling of staff through amalgamations and a complete re-write of all degrees offered. This process is ongoing, so as the degree coordinator much of my time has been directed to managing the changes, rather than my own teaching. Without the deadlines set by the Biology Scholars Program and my commitment to the program, I think that it is quite likely that I would have allowed my project to disappear into the filing cabinet for several years. I view the structured nature of the program, with its deadlines, as essential.


Jeff Carmichael

 It was difficult to keep track of pertinent data throughout the year (I was mostly in the "teach" mode and not in the "remember to collect data" mode).  



David Dunbar

 My greatest challenge is attempting to publish our work in a peer-reviewed journal. We know what journal to publish our work but when you are collaborating with other colleagues during the school year, it is very difficult to find time to work on a manuscript together. We hope to having a working manuscript to have other scholars critque on the scholars wiki page sometime this summer after the ASM Conference.



Anne-Marie Hoskinson

Finding the time to collect data, write, and think about anything other than whatever's burning my feet at the moment.




Carol Hurney




Samantha Kerry

 Definitely time. I wouldn't have progressed without the deadlines of the Biology Scholars program.  Unlike others I didn't have a problem with IRB (for which I am very grateful). One hurdle was creating good questions for my pre- and post-tests. I think I should have spent more time on them and had more people look them over.  Solution? Learn by my mistakes and adjust for next time!



Lucy Kluckhohn-Jones

Making time to work on a research project in the face of abundant other commitments and non-academic hurdles was by far the most challenging aspect of the project.  That, coupled with the feeling that I don’t really know what I’m doing meant that every step forward was followed by a step back.  I echo Jim’s sentiment about trying to understand and apply the appropriate statistical framework to analyze the data.  Solutions?  Some of my colleagues have more experience than I.  Now to find/make time to ask them for help.  

Securing IRB approval/exemption is an ongoing challenge.  I’ve been working on that since we met at ASM in July.  To the best of my knowledge, I have answered all the required questions, and am waiting for written approval/exemption. 


Maureen Knabb

 My biggest challenge was designing interdisciplinary case studies that were interesting and relevant to the students.



Jenny Knight

 Time is always the biggest challenge.  I am glad I collected lots of data, but with the benefit of hindsight, there are more questions I wish I had asked the students that I only thought of in writing the paper.  The other big challenge is writing.  I don' t like it.



Min-Ken Liao

The biggest challenge I am facing is that our classes are small.  The biggest classes, Foundations in Biology and Principles in Biology, in the Biology Department each enroll 32 students.  Every biology class after that has less than 18 students in it.  The number is too small for some statistical tests, and seemingly insignificant variables, such as time of the day or classroom location or male to female ratio, have impacts on students' learning.



Sherri Morris

The biggest challenge was implementing the project without missing a detail. I wanted to ask questions across courses, which meant involving other faculty. That was the easy part. Remembering to collect all of the appropriate data points in all of the courses was challenging. It will be easier the second time but simple things like remembering to copy materials before handing back the originals seems simple on paper but a challenge in the middle of a busy semester. Knowing this limitation, I can put mechanisms in place to ensure this does not occur again. The second challenge is, of course, time to review the materials, sort, and enter the appropriate data points. As this challenge echoes through the wiki it is a challenge without a real solution. 



Jim Smith

I echo the sentiments of my colleagues.  Finding time to work on the project has been a major challenge.  An equal challenge has been trying to understand and apply the appropriate statistical framework for analyzing the data.  Both of these challenges continue.  Finding funding for the project to buy out some of my time would be a possible solution.  It is not clear, however, for what kind of funding my Biology Scholars project would be competitive.  It would also really be nice to attend a workshop in quantitative methods for science education research.  I think most of us would be well served to become more familiar with appropriate analytical methods for the data we are collecting. 


Bethany Stone

 While some are worried because their classes are small, my problem is my classes are BIG (400 students)!  I am able to accumulate tremendous amount of data, but it is difficult to write an assessment tool that will tease out the answers I need without being overwhelming and impossibly time-consuming to evaluate.  I tried two different versions of my assessment tool -- one more open-ended essay format and the other a more limiting multiple choice format.  The first gives the most information, but is harder to evaluate and the second is easily evaluated, but limits student input.  I am still unsure on which is the better approach.  I suspect the answer is both, but use a small sub-set of the essay version instead of trying to evaluate the entire class.


Mangala Tawde

I had two BIG challenges so far and couple of hurdles. the hurdles probably aren't over yet. But the biggest challenge is TIME! Teaching regular classes (and overload),  developing and implementing new pedagogy techniques, writing couple of grants, re-submitting a big grant (CCLI) with department colleagues, and other academic/non-academic activities such as attending and judging science fair etc. The list is endless.. The release time is almost impossible and I am getting ready for summer research -Basic mol Bio bench work. The second big challenge was getting IRB approval- getting the committee members to "hear me" or to make them understand what and how I want to do to help students.



Didem Vardar-Ulu

I can't decide whether to rank the insufficiency of TIME or the incredible pressure I felt throughout the year as my biggest challenge in insisting doing this research during my reappointment year.  I was constantly reminded by colleagues that experimenting in a classroom as a junior faculty at a place that evaluates teaching almost exclusively by what the students say is not smart.  But I did get a few people who gave me some very concrete and powerful support and also helped me with identifying priorities and going about ideas one at a time.  So I learned a lot and having just been reappointed and hence earned my early sabbatical leave year to focus on research next year, I am hoping that it will be less challenging to move forward in this project. 


Mary Pat Wenderoth

The biggest challenge is the statistical analysis of the data.  I could certainly use help with determining the proper statistical analysis to do ( though even this should have been established BEFORE the work) and help with performing the analysis. 

Another area is rigorous experimental design-- tyring to control so many variables in an assessment of human learning is indeed a challenge.  I speak with my colleagues about this but can always use more feedback.

What challenges or obstacles have you encountered while working on your project?  What solutions to overcome these challenges did you find?  Are you still facing these difficulties?


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