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Lack of impact October 9, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, grad school.
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Things have started humming along now that I have my computer back, and I realized there were a couple posts I’d been meaning to reply to but haven’t had the opportunity.

In that vein, I think I’ll tackle one of them now.

A few days ago, FSP had a post titled Proto-Broader Impacts.  She talks about students and their broader impact credentials, saying, “I am talking/complaining about overly severe expectations that students will have impressive BI credentials, e.g., when writing their own grant proposals to NSF or other funding agencies with BI-like components.”

I guess I found this interesting because of my unsuccessful attempt at applying for an NSF fellowship.  (Those of you who read my old blog may remember I had already discussed the confusion over the importance of conference papers in engineering versus science, along with commentary that my thesis never led to a publication.)  Another point that bothered me was the commentary on my BI ‘cred’, if you will.

My app stated: “I am very interested in science education, as well.  I was selected as an undergraduate to work on the NSF GraSUS (Graduate Student – University – School) program at NDSU.  In that program, I was involved in developing and presenting new curriculum developed in consultation with local high school and middle school math and science teachers.  I also created demonstrations of physical concepts.  I regularly volunteered as a science fair judge, ran events for Science Olympiad competitions, and taught astronomy to 4-H students.  Last spring, I took a course called Teaching in Higher Education so that I could learn to utilize different teaching methods.  All of these experiences have helped me to develop a student-centered teaching paradigm. ”

I had to trim some things.  I failed to mention my background in homeschooling my own student as well as some of the work I’d done with various boy scouts groups.

The commentary on my application was that my application would have been much stronger if I stated that I planned to continue these activities in the future.

I have to say I was stunned.  I’ve been doing these things both as an undergrad and master’s student.  I had one heck of a good background, and I hoped to get across that I do these things because I enjoy them.  But the fact that I didn’t explicitly state that I planned to continue with the activities was a reason to ding me.

I don’t know about you, but I sort of came away with the impression that some of these reviewers were crazy.  Or they don’t like the idea of a student-centered teaching paradigm.

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