With new director, COSMOS is poised to expand

Dr. Jodi Haney

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Dr. Jodi Haney has been named the new director of the Center of Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education: Opportunities for Success (COSMOS) at Bowling Green State University.

The associate professor, who has a joint appointment in environmental programs and the School of Teaching and Learning, succeeds Dr. Barbara Moses, a professor of mathematics and statistics who was the original director of the program. Haney has been affiliated with COSMOS since its inception in 2002, and is co-director of the program’s $1 million Ohio Board of Regents grant.

An expert in hands-on, project-based science education, she is the former co-director of Toledo Area Partnership in Education: Support Teachers as Resources to Improve Elementary Science (TAPESTRIES), a collaboration among BGSU, the University of Toledo and Toledo Public and Springfield Local schools. TAPESTRIES was one of four programs nationally to receive the Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Professional Development from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in 2004.

Haney also co-directs Project EXCITE (Environmental Health Science Explorations through Cross-Disciplinary and Investigative Team Experiences), funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. EXCITE aims to help interdisciplinary teams of middle-grade teachers examine, design, develop and field test problem-based learning units focusing on local environmental health issues.

“I think we have a wonderful person to lead us forward,” said Dr. Josué Cruz, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, citing Haney’s dual background in education and science.

Cruz pointed out that nationally, more than 50 percent of science and math teachers are not certified in those fields, especially at the master’s level. By helping teachers to fortify their content knowledge and, at the same time, their teaching skills, COSMOS “really responds to the national need,” he said.

Improving science, math education

One of six centers of excellence in science and mathematics established statewide with grants from the Ohio Board of Regents, COSMOS and its parent organization, the Northwest Ohio Center of Excellence, were launched as a collaborative effort between BGSU, Owens Community College and the University of Toledo-SciMaTec with the goal of addressing the critical need for both more and better-prepared science and math teachers. The University of Findlay and Lourdes College also participate.

In addition to the Board of Regents funding, COSMOS and the northwest Ohio center also receive significant support from both BGSU and UT, as well as the Ohio Resource Center.

Dr. Neal Carothers, chair of the BGSU Department of Mathematics and Statistics, said the COSMOS approach of working directly with teachers is the best approach “if we are to improve the outlook for math and science in schools. There’s no choice but for everyone to get involved in some way with education K-12” in order to prepare a qualified workforce.

Haney says COSMOS is well positioned to move to the next level, and several new initiatives are planned this year.

“The University has really recognized our success and has supported us to take our programs forward,” Haney said.

Funding has become available for two faculty research associate positions a semester. “We want to generate new knowledge about how students best learn science and math,” Haney said. “We then can share with our colleagues and with the nation what’s successful and what’s not in terms of student learning.”

Dr. Stephen Van Hook, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, is the first faculty member to hold the research associate position, this fall.

In addition, Michelle Shafer, who holds a master’s degree from BGSU and former science teacher and curriculum director, has been hired as program manager. She will serve as a liaison to the public schools and will work to establish partner schools for COSMOS.

COSMOS also will add an option to its regular program of monthly teacher study groups, which are open to all northwest Ohio teachers. Teachers can now choose to attend the entire series as a course, earning either two tuition-paid graduate credits or CEUs. The BGSU Graduate College and the grant will each pay half of participants’ tuition, and they will pay only registration and general fees.

In the study groups, led by COSMOS faculty, teachers address topics in math and science education, taking what they’ve learned back to their classrooms. At the next meeting, they share results and ideas. “It’s a way for teachers to work with teachers,” Haney said.

COSMOS also provides a useful Web site where teachers can get expert answers to questions, link to the Ohio Resource Center to find hands-on lesson plans in multiple subject areas, and locate professional development opportunities.

Among its many events this year, COSMOS will co-sponsor the Northwest Ohio Symposium on Science, Math and Technology Teaching Nov. 4 and 5.

In response to requests from BGSU faculty, COSMOS also will formalize faculty development opportunities this year. “We’ve had input from many of our science and math faculty that they are strong in their content areas but would like to improve their teaching abilities. We will offer these opportunities to both graduate assistants and faculty members,” Haney said.

Collaborations being strengthened

Haney also has been working extensively with SciMaTec Director Emilio Duran to strengthen the collaborative ties between BGSU and UT, as well as Lourdes, Owens and Findlay. “We want to work more closely as members of the Northwest Ohio Center of Excellence,” she said.

“We all have this passion to instill a love of learning of science and math,” she said. “The utility of science and math often gets forgotten. We want to help students see ‘This is important for me’ and to help them make those short- and long-term connections.”

A former science teacher in the Rossford public schools, Haney knows firsthand the challenges of teaching. “As a beginning teacher, I thought everyone in the class would have the same love of science that I’d always had,” she said. “But I soon discovered that out of 32 kids, maybe two would share that love, and the other 30 did not. I realized that the art of teaching is to reach those 30.”

Haney earned her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction for science and middle-level education from the University of Toledo in 1994. She received a master's degree in exercise science, also from UT, in 1988, and a bachelor's degree in biology and physical education from Albion College in 1984.

A member of the COSI Toledo advisory board and vice president of the board of Maumee City Schools’ Digital Academy, she has published widely on science teaching and has been a consultant to numerous school districts. In 2003, she was a visiting scholar at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, where she helped design a science education master’s degree program and provided teacher professional development in problem-based learning.

(Posted September 02, 2005)