Howard Community College wins computer program grant

December 28, 1992|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Howard Community College has won a $350,000 award to develop a program that would allow students to learn science with the help of computers.

The college was one of 500 schools that applied for a National Science Foundation grant and one of only 120 that won. One evaluator wrote that HCC's proposal addressed "head-on the key stumbling block for students in introductory science courses. [The college has] laid out well the problems and [has] provided convincing arguments."

The college will use the award to develop a curriculum to teach students introductory chemistry, biology and physics through computer graphics and animation. It hopes to start the program next fall.

College educators hope the program will improve students' grades in introductory classes. Students will be tested before and after taking the course to determine its effectiveness.

"It will be integrating audio, visual, textual and graphics material," said Daniel Friedman, chairman of the college's science and technology division. "Hopefully, we'll make students more successful in science courses.

"Not too many grants are given to community colleges," said Mr. Friedman. "The college is committed to student learning, and this is another piece that will help us to improve student learning."

The new curriculum is being developed to sharpen students' critical and analytical thinking. "We're finding out that students in science [have difficulty] with their problem-solving skills, when they have to make the connection among all the concepts and they have to look at the problem globally," Mr. Friedman said. "They have a vision and they have a process, and they have to look for the linkages for each part of the problem."

The college has set up a partnership with New Jersey's Cumberland County College, whose faculty will review materials and help develop a diagnostic test to assess students' strong and weak points. It is also working with Synergistic Educational Technology Systems, which specializes in developing multi-media curriculum.

The college plans to rewrite classroom-based curriculum and develop workbooks and manuals to help students and instructors work through the program.

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