Wednesday, January 28, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Grant helps UCD boost STEM teaching

By
From page A5 | July 09, 2013 |

UC Davis will further its work to improve teaching in the nationally important fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — including redesigning introductory courses that enroll thousands — as part of an Association of American Universities initiative announced last week.

UCD is one of eight universities each receiving $500,000 over three years through the AAU’s five-year initiative to improve the quality of undergraduate education and help retain students in STEM majors, especially those from historically underrepresented ethnic groups. The university is investing $575,000 in matching funds.

The AAU initiative has been made possible by a three-year, $4.7 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

The UCD project and others respond to a 2012 report that called for 1 million more STEM graduates in the next decade. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology said the additional STEM graduates are needed if the United States is to maintain pre-eminence in STEM fields — and gain the social, economic and national security benefits that come with it.

“UC Davis is proud of our commitment to STEM education,” said Ralph Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor. “This project will enable us to better understand how our STEM students are learning at crucial moments in their degree programs and help us improve education for them and advance STEM education in the United States.”

Of nearly 25,500 undergraduates at UCD in 2012-13, about 14,600, or 57 percent, majored in STEM fields. Of the 6,738 bachelor’s degrees UCD conferred in 2011-12, 2,772, or more than 40 percent, were in STEM fields; the percentages for STEM degrees climb to 47 percent of master’s degrees and 70 percent of doctorates.

At UCD, the AAU project will be coordinated through the campus’s iAMSTEM Hub, established in August 2012 to foster evidenced-based teaching practices to improve STEM student success at the undergraduate level.

Focus on introductory courses

UCD will use the AAU funding to help redesign introductory courses in biology and chemistry, offer a new freshman course in engineering design and communications, and improve advising in engineering. The pilot project for introductory biology is set to begin this fall.

Overall, changes will focus on helping students see the relevance of course content to careers in the fields, offering customized online instruction and enriching discussion sections.

Retaining the students who enter STEM majors is an important strategy identified by the national advisory report. And the 2008 entering class at UCD demonstrates this: Of students from historically underrepresented ethnic groups (African-American, Native American and Chicano/Latino) who started in a STEM major, 54 percent, or 275 students, left STEM fields within four years; of those from historically represented groups who started in a STEM major, 36 percent, or 768 students, left STEM fields. Of all those who left STEM majors, more than one-third also left the university.

Marco Molinaro, assistant vice provost for undergraduate education with responsibility for iAMSTEM, serves as leader of the university’s AAU project. One of the problems with retaining STEM majors, he said, is that their studies cover basic material in the first two years and can seem removed from the experiences of a person working in the field.

Molinaro said lower-division courses tend to emphasize memorization instead of what have been identified as skills of the 21st century: critical thinking, analyzing data, communication, teamwork and the ability to work in a global context.

“If students don’t feel a sense of community, if they don’t feel they belong, if they don’t see the relevance of what they’re learning,” Molinaro said, “it’s hard for them to justify staying.”

Underpinning the AAU project and related work at UCD is an emphasis on encouraging innovative use of what is already known about teaching and learning in the STEM fields and data from the participating schools.

“There is research on how teaching and learning can be improved,” Molinaro said. “We want to encourage its use as well as conduct our own applied research in education,” he added.

In keeping with that goal, the UCD matching funds will provide $300,000 for six Provost’s Fellowships for Innovative Teaching, $30,000 for an annual conference about scholarship on teaching and learning, and $50,000 in iAMSTEM support in the third year of the grant.

Project highlights

Among the UCD projects:

* Beginning this fall, a pilot will flip elements of the introductory course for biology majors. As an introduction to material, students will complete online modules that will provide “adaptive learning” or additional, customized material where they need greater support.

Discussion sections will be used to apply concepts to solve novel and difficult problems related to big ideas in biology. Courses will continue to include classes with faculty lectures. About 600 students will participate in the pilot, and another 600 in traditional classes will serve as the control group.

* Also, this fall, UCD will launch a new engineering design and communications course to engage freshmen in the process of designing solutions to engineering-related problems for campus customers and members of the community. The pilot will involve 40 students.

* A special curricula task force will re-envision students’ introduction to chemistry. It will review admissions placement exams, remedial coursework, course consistency across sections, course testing and grading policies. The committee will develop pilot programs likely to include adaptive learning and peer learning communities.

The eight AAU project sites were chosen from among 31 submissions. The other seven are: Brown University, Michigan State University, University of Arizona, University of Colorado Boulder, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis.

— UC Davis News Service

Comments

comments

Julia Ann Easley

.

News

 
Police ID suspect in South Davis hit-and-run crash

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

 
Shrem Art Museum is a work of art itself

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Thieves swipe Gold Rush-era nuggets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Blizzard-stricken East digs out amid second-guessing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

UC Davis doctors strike

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
CASA seeks volunteers to advocate for kids

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Community invited to Fenocchio memorial

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Teens Take Charge program accepting applications

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

SHE to lead Center for Spiritual Living in sound healing

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Kiwanis Crab, Pasta Feed benefits local charities

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Registration open for PSA Day at Davis Media Access

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Brick sales will benefit Hattie Weber Museum

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Take a hike with Tuleyome on Feb. 7

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

The Soup’s On for NAMI-Yolo

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Sip wines at St. James’ annual tasting

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Capay Valley Almond Festival will tempt your taste buds

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
CSU chancellor calls for increasing graduation rates

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

State fails to track billions in mental health funds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Rebekahs’ crab feed benefits local families

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Covered California enrollment events planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Learn pattern darning tips at guild meeting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Suds for a bug: Contest is over

By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A7

 
.

Forum

Family feels cut off here

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
It’s the final freedom

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

 
Move past the stereotypes

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

A stunning contradiction here

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Let’s speak with accuracy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Think again on euthanasia

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

Lady Blue Devils take care of business

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devil snowboarders place second in short and slushy GS

By Margo Roeckl | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Williams-less Gauchos will test Aggie men

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

Davis club ruggers open with nationally celebrated Jesuit on Friday

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS ski team takes second on a déjà vu day

By Tanya Perez | From Page: B8 | Gallery

.

Features

Name droppers: Arboretum director wins leadership award

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Lemon tree, very pretty: Our most local fruit?

By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A10 | Gallery

.

Arts

Red Meat, Deke Dickerson bring rockabilly honky-tonk twang to The Palms

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Granger Smith to play at The Davis Graduate

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Young musicians to perform Winter Concerto Concert

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Art science speaker series event set for Feb. 5

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Death notice: Betty J. Cogburn

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Mary Beth Warzecka

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, January 28, 2015

By Creator | From Page: B6