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About the Center for STEM Learning

Chancellor's Graduate and Faculty/Staff Awards for Excellence in STEM Education


Current Faculty Fellows:

Brian Couch, College of Arts & Sciences - Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology
Development of an observation protocol to measure Scientific Teaching
Growing demands for skilled scientists and general science literacy have prompted scientists, educators, and policy leaders to issue several national calls for improving undergraduate science education. In 2003, the National Research Council’s report, BIO2010, recommended several changes to undergraduate biology education in light of the increasingly interdisciplinary and quantitative nature of biomedical research. This report inspired the founding of the National Academies Summer Institute for Undergraduate Education in Biology (SI) by Jo Handelsman (Yale) and Bill Wood (CU-Boulder) under the philosophy that science education ought to reflect the nature of scientific inquiry, incorporate our understanding of how people learn, and ensure equal learning opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds. Proposal

John Gunther, College of Music
Enhancing the Pedagogy of Science, Math, and Technology through Music: Exploring Informal Science Education through the Arts
This proposal seeks to develop methods that enhance the teaching of science, math and technology through music. With the aid of the Boulder Laptop Orchestra (BLOrk), an electronic music ensemble at CU, we hope to expand the possibilities available to pedagogy in math, science, and technology and develop ways to engage in informal science education with students and audiences through the arts. Funds are requested to aid in the development of: 1) Visual and sonic representation of scientific data serving as a means to connect scientific research to a wider audience. 2) Development of computer applications that allow the users to explore interactive simulations of physical phenomena while performing for or with audience members. We believe that informal science education can happen in a variety of settings and mediums and we hope to form a foundation on which future instruction and performance can integrate science as a central component. Proposal

Beth Stade, College of Arts & Sciences - Mathematics
STEM Talking: Aligning and Improving the Mathematical Education of Pre-Service Teachers
This proposal will fund the alignment with the Common Core Standards and redesign of MATH 1110: The Spirit and Uses of Mathematics, the University of Colorado mathematics content course for prospective elementary teachers, and develop an set of teaching assistant resources and professional development to assist systemic continuity and effectiveness in the course. Mathematics is the language of STEM, science, technology, and engineering. Without the fundamental understanding of mathematics, students will struggle to have success in STEM related disciplines. Unfortunately, many elementary teachers are not only ill-prepared in mathematics, but also pass on poor attitudes and math stereotypes to their students. In 2010, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, made newspaper headlines showing that female elementary teachers who share their anxiety about math pass on that anxiety to their students and lower test scores. (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 26, 2010; Beilock, 2010). The need for effective pre-service mathematic content is well documented in “The Impact of Content Courses on Pre-service Elementary Teachers’ Mathematical Content Knowledge” (Matthews, 2010). Proposal

Jane Stout, College of Arts & Sciences - Psychology
Connecting with others versus doing science: Exploring how communal goals might explain the gender gap in STEM participation
The proposed research aims to assess the degree to which students’ life goals affect their interest, success and retention in STEM. Although a host of factors contribute to students’ engagement in STEM, one understudied issue is whether and how congruency between students’ life goals and perceptions about their ability to meet those goals in STEM might affect their engagement therein. For example, students may select their academic major based on the belief that the major will lead to a career that facilitates their ability to meet their life goals. Moreover, students might continually evaluate whether their selected major is living up to their expectations of meeting their life goals. If they perceive that it is not, they may feel as though they do not “fit” in the major, fail to see the value of the major, have low expectations for success, and, ultimately, drop out of that major. We propose that this incongruence between life goals and perceptions about a major’s ability to meet those life goals occurs particularly among women in STEM, leading to (a) fewer women in some (but not all) disciplines within STEM and (b) women’s tendency to drop out of certain STEM career paths. We propose two field studies that would test these suppositions in order to glean a stronger understanding of when and why gender disparities occur in STEM disciplines. Importantly, this work would pave the way for the development of empirically-rooted intervention strategies to boost students’ engagement in STEM disciplines they might otherwise perceive to be inconsistent with their life goals (see Impact of Proposed Project section for more details on structuring interventions). Proposal

Current Graduate Fellows:

Ian Her Many Horses, School of Education
Adviser: Valerie Otero
What types of curriculum support do elementary students need to successfully develop computational thinking practices within 2D and 3D environments? Proposal

Alexandra Mass, College of Engineering & Applied Science - Civil, Environmental, & Architectural Engineering
Adviser: Diane McKnight
Enhancing Environmental Literacy and Interest in Polar Sciences for Primary School Children in the Boulder Valley School District and Beyond Proposal

Calvin Pohawpatchoko, College of Engineering & Applied Science - Computer Science
Adviser: Clayton Lewis
An Old Method New Again - Rethinking Nation Building in a Digital Age: Piloting Cognitive Apprenticeship in Indigenous Nation Building Proposal

Ian Renga, School of Education
Advisers: Jennie Whitcomb & Erin Furtak
A Study of STEM Teacher Candidates' Learning in a Course Facilitating Collaborative Inquiry into Teaching Practice Proposal

Past Chancellor's Fellows