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Teri Balser-LoResHeadshot.jpg

Associate Professor, Soil and Ecosystem Ecology
University of Wisconsin, Madison WI 53706
tcbalser@wisc.edu  

Biosketch

Teri Balser is an associate professor of soil and ecosystem ecology and a faculty associate in human resource development at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. As a researcher, Dr. Balser focuses on the role of soil and soil community response to anthropogenic disturbances in either exacerbating or mitigating current global-scale ecological changes. She works collaboratively around the world in urban, forested, and grassland and boreal ecosystems. Recent research in the Balser lab includes quantifying the impact of invasive plant species and elevated CO2 on natural methane fluxes from soil, as well as understanding patterns and consequences of community shifts following long-term chronic multiple global change manipulations. She received a U.S. National Science Foundation Early Career award for interdisciplinary collaboration and work on carbon fluxes due to physiological stress under climate warming. In addition to her research endeavors, Teri Balser is also committed to advancing teaching and learning in higher education. She is currently researching the importance of disciplinary awareness and student background in understanding of environmental issues as a National Biology Scholar. Finally, Dr. Balser is involved in leadership development and bridging research and policy and public understanding. She holds an honorary appointment in the Office of Human Resource Development, and is the American Society for Agronomy Leadership Development Coordinator.


Project Title

Using cases and complex problem solving in a large introductory environmental studies class

Abstract (in progress)

Environmental Science 101: Forum on the Environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is typical of many large, introductory Environmental Studies classes taught around the country; the class satisfies science requirements for non-scientists and serves students with a remarkably broad range of backgrounds. These types of introductory environmental studies classes play an important role in helping a wide range of students assess information, understand issues and make decisions related to current environmental concerns. At UW Madison, ES101 has between 150-250 students in their 1st to 5th years, and spanning more than 50 majors. In this study my goal is to gain a better understanding of the range of approaches to problem solving employed by students from across the major disciplines (humanities, social sciences, natural and physical sciences, professional). I am interested in how student problem solving and critical reasoning skills might be influenced by student background, specifically level in school and major-discipline, and if specific intervention by teaching them a strategy for addressing complex problems will increase their comfort level and skill in addressing environmental issues. We will use pre- and post-assessment of problem solving approaches both individually and in small groups, as well as presenting groups with ongoing cases of increasing complexity. Individuals in class will keep a weekly ‘learning log’ and complete periodic SALG surveys. We seek to measure increases in student ability to articulate their use of explicit problem solving strategy, and to utilize a variety of disciplinary perspectives in delineating and approaching complex environmental problems.
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Your campus assessment "gurus" are going to be thanking you for this!
Posted 14:02, 18 Jul 2008
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