Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM
NATURAL SCIENCE CURRICULUM BASED ON CONSTRUCTIVIST PEDAGOGY AT OGLALA LAKOTA COLLEGE
Following realignment of its STEM curriculum in 2008, Oglala Lakota College’s Department of Math, Science, & Technology (OLC MST) adopted a constructivist pedagogy for its BS in Natural Science (with tracks in conservation biology and earth science) and its AA’s in Life Sciences and Science, Engineering, and Math (pre-engineering). Oglala Lakota College is located on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota, and its 1800 students are 90% Native, 60% female, and 50% non-traditional. OLC MST has 70 declared majors, of which 28 are paid interns. OLC MST’s place-based constructivist approach is a significant departure from the standard pedagogy at the college, and is based largely on student engagement in a sequence of progressively more challenging undergraduate research experiences based on course levels: 1) 100-level emphasize acquisition of basic content knowledge, theoretical background, and a survey of OLC MST’s existing research programs; 2) 200-level classes emphasize the scientific method, technical writing, and a guided research experience; 3) 300-level classes emphasize mentor-selected research projects and in-house dissemination; and 4) 400-level classes emphasize self-selected research projects and professional dissemination (abstracts and papers). We currently support undergraduate research in landscape analysis, geologic mapping, freshwater invertebrate, box turtle, and Bison ecology, radionuclide contamination pathways, volcaniclastic mineralogy and geochemistry, Paleogene stratigraphy, and the pharmacology of native plants. Following the realignment, OLC raised its retention rate from 20% to 60%, quadrupled its number of annual graduates (2 to 8), and overall has placed 96% of its students in jobs on the reservation or in graduate school. OLC MST’s STEM curriculum and undergraduate research is supported by funding from the NSF TCUP Phase III (Tinant & LaGarry), NSF PEEC (Tinant & LaGarry), NSF EPSCoR RII T1 (LaGarry), USDA NIFA Tribal Research Program (Higa), NSF RIG (Higa), NIH BRIN (Sandoval), NSF EPSCoR Biofuels (Sandoval), and NASA EPSCoR Wireless (Dudek).