The SENCER models are curricular approaches to improving science learning and supporting engagement with complex issues that impact civic life. Through the “lens” of topic of public consequence, a SENCER model course or program teaches science that is both challenging and rigorous. The SENCER approach requires students to engage in serious scientific reasoning, inquiry, observation, and measurement while connecting scientific knowledge to public decision-making, policy development, and individual responsibility. SENCER approaches encourage students to produce knowledge, to develop answers, and see complex problems as interdisciplinary and systemic challenges.
SENCER models have clear learning outcomes. They seek transparency in connecting classroom learning to real-world issues and use assessment tools creatively. SENCER models reflect the intellectual curiosity of the faculty who developed them as well as student interest and community needs.
The models are not intended to be copied or implemented directly, but as guides and inspiration for what is achievable. SENCER models are chosen because they demonstrate success, showcase effective strategies, and provide evidence for broader implementation and adaptation. In addition to improving STEM learning, the models advance other affective and dispositional outcomes, such as fostering interdisciplinary understanding, increasing civic engagement and foregrounding personal responsibility and ethical reasoning.
We welcome your review, use, and appraisal of the SENCER models.
Dr. Eliza Jane Reilly
General Editor, SENCER Model Series
Executive Director, NCSCE
The SENCER Models
We encourage and solicit nominations of courses that fulfill the SENCER criteria for models. If you believe your course or program exemplifies the SENCER Ideals, please submit the following information electronically to Eliza Reilly (eliza.reilly[at]stonybrook.edu):
- Faculty name(s), titles, and contact information
- Title of Course and course web site (if available)
- Brief description of the course that includes the science topics covered and the civic or policy issues they are linked to, the course’s learning objectives (for both science and non-science elements), the role of the course in your institution’s undergraduate curriculum (major/non-major course, meets general education requirements, part of undergraduate core, etc.), the internal or external funding, or other support, received for this course.
Note: We continue to accept nominations on a rolling basis and will contact you directly concerning the dissemination of models.
As a complement to the undergraduate course models, an innovative cross-sector team from New Jersey has developed middle and high school lesson sequences using a problem- based learning strategy. The result is roughly equivalent to what is considered a “unit” in K-12 education although likely small for typical K-12 curriculum organization. Funding to create, test and revise the lesson sequences was supplied by a SENCER-ISE Partnership Champions eMentorship Project grant. Informal science educators were essential in implementing the two lesson sequences and the authors see their involvement as examples other teachers can learn from to begin working with informal science educators in their area.
Pearls of Practice: A new series of course modules and course activities.
Not all faculty have the ability to design their own SENCER courses. These “pearls” were developed to provide SENCER “modules” that can be embedded in traditional courses.
Sources of Biological Energy by Dr. Linden Higgins, Education for Critical Thinking, and Dr. Elizabeth Dolci, Johnson State College
Answers That Lie in the Questions by Dr. Catherine Hurt Middlecamp, University of Wisconsin-Madison
What’s Radioactive in This Room? by Catherine Hurt Middlecamp, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Do I Live in a Food Desert? by Dr. Autumn Marshall, Lipscomb University
How Big is My Footprint? by Dr. Alison O’Malley, Butler University
Cell as City by Dr. Gillian Backus, Northern Virginia Community College
Meet the Beekeepers by Dr. Susan Cusato, Southern Connecticut State University