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2 – Developing Higher-Level Learning Using A Collaborative Interdisciplinary STEM Research Model


Salwa Al-Noori, Division of Biological Sciences, School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, UW Bothell


Topic: This project highlights an integrated interdisciplinary undergraduate research project promoting higher level learning in STEM fields. Specifically, outcomes-to-date of an ongoing faculty-mentored student-centered research project, a year-and-a-half into its progress, conducted in the School of STEM at the University of Washington Bothell are described.

Context: This collaborative undergraduate research project is conducted by a team of undergraduate research students including two Biology, one Physics, and one Mechanical Engineering major under mentorship of a faculty member in the Division of Biological Sciences. The project integrates and develops core concepts from the students’ various fields of study to address a biologically relevant question aimed at elucidating the structural basis of atrioventricular valve function in mammalian heart. The project involves integration of biological, computational, physical, and engineering concepts.

Scholarly basis: This integrated research approach supports development of higher levels of learning (revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, A Taxonomy for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, 2001) and several Core Competencies (AAAS Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education Report, 2011) including quantitative reasoning, modeling, and understanding the interdisciplinary nature of science.

Results: Students incorporate, apply, and extend concepts from a multitude of science courses including anatomy, physiology, fluid dynamics, among others. While they initially learned these concepts within the confines of their specific fields, greater-depth understanding is developed when they apply them within the context of their project and even further through analytical evaluation of the applicability and validation of their modeling. The students have presented progress of their work in capstone colloquium presentations (Spring and Summer 2019) and at the Washington State Life Sciences Summit (2019).

Application: This model of collaborative interdisciplinary science research supports higher-level learning objectives. Multiple beneficial outcomes include developing integrated understanding of scientifically relevant questions while providing a teaching tool for future generations of learners.