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$300,000 NSF Grant to Aid Study of Teaching Practices in STEM Disciplines

By: Kathleen Tuck   Published 10:11 am / September 10, 2012

A collaborative group of Boise State faculty from psychology and education, as well as math, geosciences and engineering, will help identify which teaching practices best help students understand concepts in the crucial fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The group has just received a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the use of evidence-based instructional practices in STEM courses. Their results will contribute to the national dialogue on the effective education of STEM professionals and strategies to achieve a more scientifically literate citizenry.

“This is another great example of an interdisciplinary team of Boise State faculty working together to develop research methodologies for understanding how students learn,” said Martin Schimpf, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The CALIPER Project leverages Boise State’s recently reformed general education curriculum, Foundational Studies, which was rolled out this fall. Faculty will assess the learning outcomes achieved by students in these courses and associate these observed instructional practices with the learning outcomes achieved.

Students’ written assignments and exams will be assessed to evaluate the degree to which they achieve intended learning outcomes, such as “apply quantitative reasoning to draw appropriate conclusions” and “conduct processes of inquiry and analysis in response to evidence.” This process will result in a sustainable assessment system to collect and analyze data to understand the relationship between instructional practices and achieved student learning outcomes.

Sharon McGuire, vice provost for undergraduate studies, will serve as principal investigator for the grant and Susan Shadle, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, as co-principal investigator. The team also includes Sasha Wang, math; Eric Landrum, psychology; Karen Viskupic, geosciences; Ross Perkins, educational technology; Pat Pyke, STEM Station; Vicki Stieha, Foundational Studies; Janet Callahan, engineering; and Doug Bullock, Office of the Provost.

“The awarding of this grant acknowledges Boise State University’s contributions to STEM education and leadership in empowering students to achieve academic excellence and develop 21st century skills,” McGuire said.


This project is supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. DUE-1256585.