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About the Center for STEM Learning at CU Boulder


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

2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011-2012

2011-2012 Faculty Fellows:

Heidi Bustamante, Janet Casagrand, and Teresa Foley, College of Arts & Sciences - Integrative Physiology
Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Success of Inquiry-Based Laboratories in IPHY
The purpose of this proposal is to request support to evaluate the effectiveness and success of the revised physiology laboratories in Integrative Physiology (IPHY). Under the direction of a formal Physiology Lab Revision Committee, the physiology laboratories in IPHY have been transformed from an expository (“cookbook”) style of instruction to a more inquiry-based approach. These laboratories serve about 500 majors and non-majors each year, and employ a combination of human and animal experimentation to explore basic physiological principles. Specifically, we are requesting support for Eric Homestead to help conduct student interviews, and to analyze pre-post assessment and student attitude data on the revised physiology laboratories. Eric is currently the lead graduate teacher in IPHY and has been a teaching assistant for the physiology laboratories for several semesters. proposal

John Falconer and Garrett Nicodemus, College of Engineering & Applied Science - Chemical and Biological Engineering
Biologically-Focused Screencasts and ConcepTests for Chemical and Biological Engineering Courses
The goal of this proposal is to increase the use of biological engineering topics in three core courses in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department: Material and Energy Balances, Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics, and Fluid Mechanics. We propose to prepare teaching materials that can be readily used by faculty who do not have backgrounds in biological topics. We propose to develop two types of teaching materials that incorporate biological concepts: 1) ConcepTests, which are multiple choice conceptual questions, used in class with clickers to emphasize the important concepts in the course, 2) Screencasts, which are short screen captures of writing and narration on a tablet PC, can be used to solve example problems and provide further explanations. Creating these teaching materials will allow students in these three courses to be exposed to biological concepts earlier in their majors. These courses are taken by both Chemical Engineering majors and Chemical and Biological Engineering majors, and were originally developed for Chemical Engineering majors and thus did not incorporate biological concepts or examples. Proposal and Summary Report

Kris Gutierrez, School of Education
When Scientific and Everyday Knowledge Grow into One Another: Designing for Robust Science Learning for Students from Non-dominant Communities
This project joins CU professors, PhD and undergraduate students, and a local school in an interdisciplinary effort to create and study an innovative technology-based after-school program called El Pueblo Mágico (EPM). Joining students from CU and Alicia Sanchez Elementary, a school with low-income and Emerging Bilingual student populations, EPM engages students collaboratively in computer, science, and health science based activities to engage students in multi modal forms of learning about science. In fall of 2010, we launched EPM, piloting new technology and science-oriented activities, supported by our CU collaborators in Computer Science: design software by Alex Repenning & Andri Ioannidou (AgentSheets); and a computer-mediated fabrication curriculum by Michael Eisenberg & Jane Meyers (Craftopolis). We aim to examine how multi-age groups learn together in technology-mediated activity as designers who will also gain valuable forms of multi modal expertise within a vibrant, technology-rich learning community. An overarching goal of this design experiment is to introduce undergraduates and children to high status knowledge about digital design, energy-use, science, and health in ways that helps them leverage their everyday understandings to develop robust science concepts, practices, and dispositions. pdf

Victoria Hand, School of Education
Examination of shifts in content understanding and imagined trajectories for underrepresented high school students serving as mentors for Science Explorers
The proposed grant will support a research study that investigates a mentoring opportunity for high school students from underrepresented backgrounds who excel in mathematics and science. The STEMsation mentoring program represents a collaboration between the School of Education, the CUTeach program, Science Explorers, and several STEM-focused high schools in Colorado. The program will train underrepresented high school students as mentors for the Science Explorers workshop in their district. We hypothesize that participation in STEMsation will provide the mentors with: (1) a deeper and more connected understanding of STEM domains; (2) an ability to distinguish between higher- and lower-level scientific and mathematical reasoning, and (3) an opportunity to reflect on and potentially overcome negative stereotypes and structural barriers faced by underrepresented groups of individuals in STEM fields. proposal

Tiffany Ito, College of Arts & Sciences - Psychology
A Classroom Intervention to Reduce the Gender Achievement Gap in College Science
The proposed research focuses on the effectiveness and dissemination of a classroom intervention designed to reduce the gender gap in the achievement of women in STEM disciplines. We have conducted an initial test at CU of the effectiveness of a writing exercise that affirms self-worth, finding that it raises the grades and conceptual mastery of women in introductory physics (Miyake et al., 2010). These initial findings are very promising, but we currently lack any funding to explore them further. Funds are requested to extend our findings through studies both at CU and elsewhere. This will allow us to (1) better understand the mechanisms through which women’s STEM performance can be improved, focusing specifically on the psychological changes that are produced by self-affirmation which in turn improve performance. Knowing this is important theoretically and can also be used to refine and sharpen our intervention. The proposed research will also (2) test the effectiveness of our intervention in other contexts (e.g., courses with different content, professors with different teaching styles, students of various demographics), (3) provide necessary data for a larger grant focusing on dissemination of the intervention, and (4) bring psychological perspectives more explicitly into CU’s work on STEM education. proposal and final report

2011-2012 Graduate Fellows:

Lindsay Anderson, College of Arts & Sciences - Psychology
Advisor: Alice Healy
Understanding the Components of the iClicker System that Promote Learning, Retention, and Generalization of Classroom Knowledge pdf

Nathan Canney, College of Engineering & Applied Science - Civil and Environmental Engineering
Advisor: Angela Bielefeldt
An assessment for teaching methodologies for instilling social responsibility in undergraduate civil engineering students proposal

Corrie Colvin Williams, College of Architecture & Planning
Adviser: Louise Chawla
Significant Life Experiences: Exploring the lifelong influence of environmental and science education in program participants proposal and Final Report

Krista Marshall, School of Education
Advisers: Alexander Repenning and David Webb
Targeting the Technology Gender Gap: Making Computer Science Engaging and Accessible for All Students proposal

Jane Meyers, College of Engineering & Applied Science - Computer Science
Adviser: Michael Eisenberg
Learning Computer Science the Craftopolis Way proposal

Michael Ross, School of Education
Adviser: Valerie Otero
Transforming the Classroom Power Structure to Impact Physics Learning pdf

Kim Trenbath, College of Arts & Sciences – Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences
Adviser: Linnea Avallone
Undergraduate Students’ Climate Change Conceptions pdf

Ben Van Dusen, School of Education
Adviser: Valerie Otero
Empowering Students through the Use of iPad Technology proposal and final report

2010-2011 Faculty Fellows:

John Basey, College of Arts & Sciences - Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Variation in Working Memory and the Optimal Design of STEM Labs
Our ultimate goal is to research how cognitive load imposed on students in the form of different designs of inquiry-oriented labs interacts with individual variations in working memory among students to influence learning. As a beginning step, I am re-designing the traditional and guided, diversity-survey-labs in biology (i.e. teacher-centered with guided procedures and a guided write-up) to mirror constructs advocated by science education reform (i.e. student-centered without guided procedures and an open-ended write-up). In addition, the new survey labs begin with “the learning cycle” and are more inquiry-oriented (hypothesis-driven). I will develop and finalize a working model of this new survey lab during summer 2010 and do a test-run in the classroom with an assessment in spring 2011. Proposal, Year-end Report

Virginia Ferguson, College of Engineering & Applied Sciences – Mechanical Engineering
Assessing YOU’RE@CU: A New Program to Promote Diversity in Engineering

This proposal seeks to improve training and academic preparation of engineering students, who are interested in the combined study of engineering and biology. The PI, along with the BOLD Center, will achieve this by developing a new program that targets women and minority students at the undergraduate and graduate levels: “Your Own Undergraduate Research Experience at the University of Colorado: YOU’RE@CU”. We seek to establish a vibrant and diverse research community that increases the accessibility of studying biological materials and medicine from an engineering perspective. Our educational vision is that merging bioengineering research with teaching and providing a range of research opportunities will enhance new student recruitment, improve retention of engineering lower classmen – and particularly target retention of underrepresented minorities and women, encourage undergraduates to seek graduate degrees, and provide mentoring training for graduate students.

Jenny Knight, College of Arts & Sciences – Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology
Development of a Capstone Concept Assessment to measure integrated content retention in biology

The intent of this proposal is to begin developing a Capstone Molecular Biology Concept Assessment (Capstone MBCA) to evaluate how well graduating seniors in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology (MCDB) can integrate and apply concepts from all their coursework. Such an assessment tool will have widespread impact in supporting the transformation of undergraduate education and providing a resource to evaluate meaningful student learning. Some of the expected uses of this tool are: 1. To measure the level of conceptual learning in graduating biology majors, 2. To measure conceptual learning gains between beginning and end of final year of coursework, 3. To measure the level of content retention after graduation, 4. To help determine which different models of pedagogy can help to promote long-term content retention and integrative abilities. The Capstone MBCA can be used not only at CU, but at any college or university department that teaches genetics, molecular biology, and cell biology, across the nation and internationally. It may also be valuable to science educators in other disciples, as well as to science teachers at the secondary school level. Proposal, Year-End Report

Heather Lewandowski & Charles Rogers, College of Arts & Sciences – Physics
Learning Goals and Course Materials for Advanced Undergraduate Physics Laboratories
In Physics, we recognize and teach that experiment is an extraordinarily powerful method for judging and differentiating competing ideas. Although most physics majors are required to take an upper-level laboratory course, these courses are seldom effective at teaching students the necessary skills to carry out independent research beyond the classroom setting. We are requesting support for the development of learning goals, coordinated course materials, and a preliminary online evaluation survey for the upper-level “advanced laboratory” courses, PHYS3340, PHYS4430, and PHYS5430.
Year-end Report

2010-2011 Graduate Fellows:

Lindsay Anderson, College of Arts & Sciences - Psychology
Advisor: Alice Healy
Understanding the Components of the iClicker System that Promote Learning, Retention, and Generalization of Classroom Knowledge Proposal, Year-end Report

Heidi Iverson, School of Education
Adviser: Erin Furtak
What Works in Undergraduate Physics Education? A Research Synthesis pdf

Seyitriza Tigrek, College of Engineering & Applied Science - Electrical Engineering
Advisor: Frank Barnes and Melinda Piket-May
Developing an Adaptive Method for Teaching Mobile (Phones) Programming to Freshman Engineering Students pdf

Colin Wallace, College of Arts & Sciences – Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences
Advisor: Doug Duncan
Understanding Students' Difficulties with Cosmology pdf

2009-2010 Faculty Fellows:

Clayton H. Lewis, Computer Science with Profs. Dirk Grunwald and Ken Anderson
Video Resources for Lower Division Computer Science Curriculum

This project aims to improve the effectiveness of Computer Science pedagogy by developing, evaluating, and sharing the practice of providing short video modules that students can view before class and review after class. This two-year study will develop and evaluate materials for four lower division courses, and assess the costs of creating and using these materials. In the longer term, the project aims to extend this approach to the remaining curriculum, while at the same time providing a model for creating and sharing such materials that can be widely adopted elsewhere. Proposal, Year-end Report

Eric Frew, Aerospace Engineering
The Sky's the Limit: An Unmanned Aircraft Laboratory Model

The goal of the Sky’s the Limit project is to create, evaluate, and then disseminate new learning material that reflects advances both in unmanned aerospace systems and in what is known about the impact of active learning on engineering education. The centerpiece of the proposed effort is the creation of a complete unmanned aircraft laboratory module. This module will reflect the current state of the art in embedded systems, wireless communication, automatic control, and unmanned systems. Proposal, Year-end Report

Erin Furtak, School of Education
Teaching and Learning Biology at CU: Course Evaluation and Revision Project

The proposed research supports a collaboration between two CU STEM faculty members; fosters research into the design and evaluation of instructional strategies and novel course design, and promises to promote a uniquely effective type of course/instruction with great potential to positively impact STEM education, both at CU and nationally. The proposed research will support: a) the completion of the evaluation of the TALB course, its effectiveness as a teacher education and educational research recruitment tool; b) suggest revisions of the course to be implemented when it is offered again in the fall of 2010. Proposal, Year-end Report

Steven Pollock, Physics
Development of Pre-Post Tests for Upper Division Electricity and Magnetism Tutorials
This research study is part of a broader effort to move beyond research and development of curricular reforms at the introductory level, in order to better address the specialized needs of students in upper-division physics courses. Proposal, Year-end Report

2009-2010 Graduate Fellows:

Kim Trenbath, Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences
Adviser: Linnea Avallone
AY appointment to support Undergraduate Climate Change Curriculum Development and Validation Proposal, Year-end Report, CCLI Poster

Sarah Roberts, School of Education
Adviser: Erin Furtak
Summer appointment to support Reforming Undergraduate Biology Teaching Through Formative Assessment Proposal, Year-end Report

Ryan Grover and Louisa Harris, School of Education
Advisers: David Webb and Victoria Hand
AY appointments to support a Longitudinal Study of the Implementation and Impact of LAs on Teaching in Undergraduate Mathematics Proposal, Year-end Report

David Cheeseman, Computer Science
Adviser: Michael Main
AY year appointment to support a Tablet Teaching Pilot Program Proposal, Year-end Report

Colin Wallace, Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences
Adviser: Doug Duncan
AY year appointment to support Student's Difficulties with Cosmology Proposal, Year-end Report

Lauren Kost, Physics
Adviser: Steven Pollock
AY year appointment to support Investigating the Gender Gap in Undergraduate Physics Courses Proposal, Year-end Report

Benjamin Spike, Physics
Adviser Noah Finkelstein
AY appointment to support An Examination of Conceptions of Teaching and Learning Physics in Graduate TAs and Undergraduate LAs Proposal

Current Fellows