Faculty-Led Institutional Transformation for Teaching Diverse Learners in STEM
The need to broaden participation in STEM fields is well-documented. Meanwhile, rapidly changing student demographics, coupled with slow instructor response to these changes, results in lower retention rates in STEM fields, particularly for first-generation and underrepresented students. Eastern Mennonite University is in the midst of this shift. The significance of this project is that it seeks to reverse those retention trends and improve affective outcomes for these students through a collaborative, multi-faceted approach, across STEM fields and across the university.
The overall scope of this project is to improve retention, particularly for underrepresented and first-generation math, computer science, biology, and chemistry majors at EMU. The project will use multiple interventions, including: teaching strategies workshops, online training, and faculty learning communities that foster evidence-based and culturally-responsive teaching practices and assessments, particularly to support diverse learners; mentoring a group of STEM faculty to use a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) approach to their own teaching and scholarship; and enhancing peer tutor training and other university supports for underrepresented and first-generation students. The interventions are aimed to achieve the following outcomes: (1) improved first- and second-year retention and positive affective outcomes for underrepresented and first-generation STEM majors; (2) increased appreciation for and use of evidence-based and culturally-responsive STEM teaching strategies by faculty; (3) STEM faculty-produced SoTL projects that contribute to understanding of how learning occurs in the STEM classroom, particularly for diverse learners; and (4) improved peer-tutor training and effectiveness for underrepresented students and greater STEM faculty engagement with peer-tutors. External evaluation at multiple levels will provide formative insight and summative conclusions concerning the program's impact on STEM retention, affective outcomes, and the effectiveness of STEM faculty members' pedagogical transformation. These findings will provide information about the impact of various interventions that will be valuable to institutions of higher education experiencing similar shifts.