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VOLUME 5 TEACHING ISSUES AND EXPERIMENTS IN ECOLOGY

EDITORIAL

Charlene D'Avanzo
School of Natural Science, Hampshire College, Amherst MA 01002

TIEE was designed to evolve with faculty input and changing needs, and the new format of Volume 5 reflects the growing importance of teaching as scholarship in higher education. As the Table of Contents shows, we have adopted a journal design with two major sections — Research (scholarly study of ecology teaching and learning) and Practice (methods and approaches) — plus reviews of meetings and other topics of interest. Therefore, TIEE Issues and Experiments will continue to be published, now as Practice. In addition to Issues and Experiments, we also invite submissions for the new Research and Review sections.

This volume includes research papers by research practitioners — faculty who systematically study their teaching. As with ecological research, practitioner research is based on theories about teaching and learning, requires collecting and analyzing data, and is an iterative process. For many ecology faculty this is a familiar process they are good at and enjoy. The 10 authors participated in a TIEE Research Practitioner Project supported by a NSF supplement grant. In a workshop at the annual 2005 ESA meeting, these faculty worked together in self-selected teams to address questions of special interest to them about their students' learning. Together they designed research programs and began to develop research instruments. Over the following academic year teams continued to work together via conference calls and other means; as Deborah Morris describes in her paper, The TIEE Research Practitioners Project: Faculty Investigating Active Teaching and Student Learning, the teamwork and ongoing interaction was critical to the success of this project. Teams presented posters at the 2006 ESA Annual Meeting in Memphis, which was the first step towards writing the papers published here.

What these faculty have accomplished in two years is extraordinary. None had done classroom research before; needless to say, the process of developing and modifying questions, instruments, and student-active approaches while teaching was daunting. The papers are evidence of how they have developed as teachers and education researchers in this short time. After additional research, the eventual goal is publication of their results in a more traditional education journal.

Interest in the scholarship of teaching has grown a good deal in recent years as more faculty have recognized the value of challenging intellectual work on teaching. As a peer-reviewed publication, TIEE was developed as a catalyst to change the culture of teaching as scholarship. Towards that end, we intend to continue publishing ecology education research papers and request inquiries, suggestions, and submissions.

As always, we are very much indebted to our many reviewers. Review of TIEE materials has always been demanding and time consuming, but working on the Research Practitioner articles was especially so. The balance of guidance and critique was delicate, and reviewers' insight and knowledge is evident in all the articles. I also especially thank the new Managing Editor, Jennifer Riem, for her enormous effort and considerable skill, and Josh Riney who continues his excellent work as our web specialist. The efforts of the research practitioners, the reviewers, and the TIEE team exemplify the teaching commons that Mary Huber from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching identifies as a transformation that is affecting all faculty.