$2.5 million NSF grant aims to improve introductory STEM courses
Texas State University has received a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Division of Undergraduate Education to support research into improving undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).
Heather Galloway, dean of the Honors College, will serve as principal investigator for the 5-year grant. The project aims to advance STEM education research by analyzing the efforts of faculty and student teams to improve introductory STEM courses at Texas State. Co-PIs are Eleanor Close, associate professor in the Department of Physics, Alice Olmstead, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, Cindy Luxford, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Li Feng, associate professor in the Department of Finance and Economics.
The project emphasizes faculty-student partnerships to redesign courses, which have the potential to broaden participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM.
"This project brings together a team of faculty from three different colleges at Texas State and our proposal is supported by all the departments with undergraduate degrees in the College of Science and Engineering," Galloway said. "The tradition of strong faculty-student collaborations in our undergraduate programs make Texas State an ideal university for testing our ideas about improving STEM education for undergraduates."
By providing faculty with support from education specialists, peers and administrators, the project will facilitate instructional innovations to enhance student learning in STEM gateway courses. The project's key goal is to improve undergraduate STEM courses in ways that build on the students' strengths and increase the collaboration between faculty and students in the learning process.
"Our team is excited about this project because of our joint emphasis on partnering with students and building strong, lasting instructional collaborations among STEM faculty," Galloway said. "We have utilized current research to design our programmatic efforts and our research and programmatic plans are closely linked. Research on how students progress through STEM degrees at Texas State will directly inform the course redesigns, while local and national-scale research on student outcomes from these kinds of programs will help us to streamline our approach over the five years of the grant."
The project's focus on sustained improvements is expected to benefit future students in gateway courses as well as result in improvements to STEM courses beyond those included in the research. The work will directly impact hundreds of faculty and thousands of STEM students. Lessons learned will inform other higher education institutions that plan to undertake similar initiatives. The project has the potential to increase the number of STEM degrees awarded to underrepresented minorities, thus supporting increased diversity of the national STEM workforce.