The Center for Learning, Education, and Research in the Sciences

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Oberlin College is a recognized leader in educating undergraduate scientists. Since 1920, more Oberlin graduates have earned PhDs in the sciences and engineering than have graduates of any other liberal arts college in America. The Center for Learning, Education and Research in the Sciences (CLEAR) is an interdepartmental resource for faculty and students dedicated to expanding on this tradition of leadership in science education at Oberlin College.

To find out what CLEAR has been up to lately, take a look at our newsletter.

Science center


Background

Oberlin College was awarded a grant of $800,000 in 2012 by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to support the natural sciences and strengthen student learning of math and quantitative skills to meet the demands of interdisciplinary research. With the grant, Oberlin established the Center for Learning, Education, and Research in the Sciences (CLEAR). The Center, akin to the Writing Center, aims to help natural science students strengthen their understanding of quantitative and formal reasoning skills by providing peer support for basics such as math and graphs, and advanced skills, such as modeling, which are common in different disciplines.

The center will play a critical role in meeting the college's strategic goal of integrating quantitative analysis and data-informed reasoning into all majors and program at Oberlin. The Center will serve this goal by providing an ongoing source of support for faculty development, curriculum development, and quantitative and formal reasoning programming essential to sustaining a current and vital curriculum for students to acquire the ability to use tools, algorithms, or strategies to solve problems, make decisions, or evaluate evidence. Such skills are required in virtually all academic fields, are used in almost every profession, and are necessary for decision-making in everyday life.


Mission

The Center for Learning, Education, and Research in the Sciences aims to further strengthen the college's contribution to educating future leaders in STEM (science technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. The college recognizes the growing importance of STEM fields in every aspect of contemporary life and remains strong in its belief that a liberal arts education is critical to the success of STEM leaders. To this aim, the center is dedicated to working with existing campus offices and departments–particularly the Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence, the Office of Undergraduate Research, Student Academic Services, the Oberlin Center for Technologically Enhanced Teaching, the Office of Communications, all of the natural sciences departments and programs, the Bonner Center for Service and Learning, and the Offices of the Deans and the President–in order to:

  • Enhance the quantitative and scientific problem-solving skills of undergraduate STEM majors through faculty curricular development, workshops, and student peer-led activities;
  • Foster interdisciplinary connections and transformative learning approaches in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics, neuroscience, physics, and psychology, at all levels of the curriculum;
  • Facilitate recruitment and training of students as peer-mentors, tutors, and workshop leaders;
  • Provide resources for students and faculty who are learning, teaching, or studying in the STEM fields;
  • Strengthen and expand on Oberlin's tradition of leadership in science education;
  • Catalyze greater interactions between the science departments and all the departments and programs across the campus of Oberlin College;
  • Support enhanced summer programming for all science research students;
  • Raise the profile and provide recognition for research conducted by Oberlin students and faculty in the sciences.

Resources

  • Student and faculty workshops;
  • Drop-in tutoring and OWLS peer mentoring;
  • Resource center for students and faculty interested in teaching, learning, or studying topics in the natural sciences or with Quantitative and Formal Reasoning (QFR) components;
  • Assessment of first-year students' quantitative literacy;
  • Support for faculty curricular development and programming;
  • Co-sponsored programming/distribution of programming funds;
  • Distribution of curriculum development funds.

Administrative Structure

HHMI Program Director, Jason Belitsky
Director, Marcelo Vinces
Administrative Assistant, Emily Gazda
Special Projects Researcher, Tabassum Haque

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CLEAR Events

See below for a selection of CLEAR events and opportunities to get involved with science on campus. For a complete list, see our calendar page.

Previous Events

Lab Crawl 2: Fri Nov 1. This fun annual event for exploring math and science at Oberlin returns. Pizza, prizes, labs across campus.

Gender and the Physical Sciences- Sun Oct 13, 7:30pm - Amy Graves, physics and astronomy professor at Swarthmore College, brings in threads from the history of science, education, social psychology, and feminist critique of science, to address where women and underrepresented minorities stand today, and how the sciences, particularly the physical sciences, can continue to be more inclusive to all. Part of the Roots and S.T.E.M. events series.

Science Fridays Faculty Seminar Series: Fri Oct 11, 12 noon - Susan Jane Colley (Math) - "Mathematics in the Tropics: New Ideas in Algebraic Geometry"

Science Fridays Faculty Seminar Series: Fri Oct 4, 12 noon - Keith Tarvin (Biology) - "Is bill color of American goldfinches a window to a sexy or social soul?"

Celebration of Undergraduate Research – Thursday & Fri Sept 20-21 - A celebration of the diverse research and projects conducted over the summer by students. Learn more.

Science Fridays Faculty Seminar Series: Fri Sept 20 - Kate Jones-Smith (Physics and Astronomy) - "Fractals and the Drip Paintings of Jackson Pollock"

Women in STEM Faculty Panel - Thurs Sept 19 - Part of the Roots and S.T.E.M. events series. Go to the events listing for more details.

HHMI faculty workshop: "Taking Quantitative and Formal Reasoning to the Next Step at Oberlin." Corrine Taylor, Wellesley College, May 22, 2013.

Lab Crawl: Fri May 3. An exciting opportunity to explore research opportunities on campus and talk to students and faculty in their labs.

HHMI faculty workshop: "Teaching Quantitative Reasoning Across the Curriculum," Nathan Grawe, Carleton College, Jan 16