He may have ideas on how we can create proposals that are scalable and portable so many students can benefit.
Harvey Mudd College (HMC) has many unique laboratory experiences. Seniors do independent laboratory research or computer science/ engineering clinics in which they work on real-world problems suggested by industry. All introductory biology labs are project-oriented. First-year students are offered a choice of traditional labs in chemistry and physics or an Interdisciplinary (ID) Lab that combines chemistry and physics. HMC has broad scientific core requirements as well as a colloquium program within each department. The college is also instituting new majors that cross disciplinary boundaries such as a joint math-biology major.
The ID Lab at HMC is a stand-alone course not affiliated with a lecture, although a large lab manual does provide background information. It creates excitement by presenting material in a more research-like setting. The students work in pairs for a three-week experiment before shifting partners for the next three weeks. The lab provides ownership by letting students decide which questions to ask. This can lead to increased interest on the part of the student when a related topic is presented in a later lecture course. It gives the opportunity to think like a scientist as well as across disciplines. The ID Lab was developed with an Award for the Integration of Research and Education (AIRE) from NSF. The goal of the ID Lab is to make the first year of college more exciting. HMC faculty spent a summer working with eight undergraduates to develop the course and get it ready for implementation. These labs do not cost much extra in materials (although laptop computers are useful); however, they do require extensive instructor time. In the ID Lab at HMC, there are three faculty for 36 students. Each student goes to one four-hour session per week. In the three-week experiment they spend week #1 on skills and equipment; at home they start designing the experiment to do during week #2. Week #3 provides time to finish up, analyze results, and present orally. A written report is also done. The grades are based on prelab write-ups, final reports, and lab behavior. The student evaluations indicated that they liked being able to think creatively and being immersed in the subject. Assessment was done by comparing answers to a question about paramecium and contractile vacuoles between students from the ID Lab and those in traditional chemistry and physics labs. An outside professor from Pomona College was brought in to score the assessment. The only areas of difference were in error analysis and development of creative proposals; the ID students per-