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$2 Million Grant to Expand Best STEM Teaching and Learning Practices

By: Sherry Squires   Published 11:23 am / October 8, 2013

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Boise State University has been awarded a $2 million National Science Foundation grant to increase evidence-based best teaching and learning practices in foundational science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses.

Martin Schimpf

Martin Schimpf

“This is another great example of an interdisciplinary team of Boise State faculty members working together to develop best practices that advance teaching and learning in a digital age,” said Martin Schimpf, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The awarding of this grant also acknowledges the university’s continued leadership in and commitment to STEM education reform.”

The three-year grant will use an intentional change process to engage faculty members from across college and departmental boundaries to put into place practices shown by research to promote student success.

“Applying an intentional change process is a unique element of this project and puts Boise State in the national spotlight for education reform,” said Susan Shadle, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and principal investigator for the project.

Susan Shadle

Susan Shadle

She noted that Tony Marker, associate professor of organizational performance and workplace learning, will use a change facilitation model from business to guide project implementation across the academic community.

Over the years of the grant, several waves of new pedagogical projects will be supported, targeted at courses such as general chemistry, calculus and pre-calculus, general physics, lower-division engineering courses and upper-division geoscience courses. These courses were chosen because many students take them as gateways to upper-division study in STEM majors. Students who major in fields other than STEM also take many of these courses.

Ultimate goals of the project include:

  • Continuous improvement in the teaching of STEM subjects
  • Increasing the number of STEM majors
  • Attracting more women and underrepresented groups to STEM majors
  • Retaining STEM students from the first to the second year

Reflecting the project’s broad collaborative effort, co-principal investigators include Tony Roark, philosophy professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Amy Moll, dean of the College of Engineering, Eric Landrum, psychology professor, and Doug Bullock, mathematics associate professor.

Shadle said one of the factors that led to the NSF selecting Boise State for the grant was that STEM education reform efforts by the university’s faculty have laid the groundwork for successful and sustainable changes to both practice and university culture around teaching and learning.

“University initiatives have provided ways for faculty members to advance expertise in education reform, scholarly teaching and research,” she said. “University leaders really value this work. It all adds up to Boise State being the right university at the right time for such an important effort.”

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1347830. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.