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About the Center for STEM Learning

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


Current Faculty Scholars:

Barbara Demmig-Adams, William Adams, and Sara Wise, College of Arts & Sciences - Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Comparing the Impact of Faculty-Provided and Online Review Materials
The objectives of this project are to develop and implement an individualized, early intervention for students who have failed one of the first exams in a large biology class, and compare the impact of faculty- versus online-implemented intervention on subsequent exam performance. The interventions will take the form of a supportive, metacognitively-oriented review of specific exam items, which aims to empower students to find patterns in their exam performance and in turn, generate insights into ways to alter their study strategies towards success.

Teresa Foley, Chris Link, and Molly Welsh, College of Arts & Sciences - Integrative Physiology
Transformation of the Cell Physiology Laboratories in Integrative Physiology
The purpose of the propose research project is to transform the existing Cell Physiology Laboratories in Integrative Physiology (IPHY) to an inquiry-based approach of instruction that better aligns with the lecture material. We are requesting summer salary support for Instructor Molly Welsh to help develop the Cell Physiology Laboratory materials, including learning goals, assessments, inquiry-based labs and surveys. Mrs. Welsh has been involved with the Cell Physiology course for the past 5 years and she has extensive expertise in the laboratory protocols, ordering new instruments, maintaining inventory, staff support, and quality control. Proposal

Katie Hinko, Graduate School - JILA
Characterizing the Development of University Students who Participate in Informal STEM Programming
We seek to investigate the impact on university students who participate in informal STEM programs. While University informal STEM programs geared toward K-12 children or community members often report outcomes in terms of these groups, our work will focus on the university educators (UEs) who participate in these informal programs, providing insight into the less-studied group. These findings will inform university support for and design of informal STEM programming, as well as have broad implications for all types of informal STEM environments. For this project, we will primarily study university physics students who participate in the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) Partnerships for Informal Science Education in the Community (PISEC) programs. PISEC is supported by the CU Boulder Department of Physics and the JILA Physics Frontier Center and whose main programming component consists of weekly, after school physics clubs for underrepresented populations in grades K-8. This program relies on physics undergraduate and graduate UEs to interact with children, teachers and community members as both scientists and educators. For this project, we will design assessments and implement pilot studies of the UEs by building on initial findings from our program that indicate the potential for improvement in the communication and pedagogical skills of UEs, as well as positive shifts in their affect and self-efficacy as scientific communicators and teachers. Proposal

Shaw Ketels, College of Arts & Sciences - Psychology
A New Approach to Teaching General Psychology at CU
This proposal describes a "flipped classroom" approach to teaching General Psychology, with the goal of promoting abstract and critical thinking, and laying the foundations for an evidence-based understanding of the world. Class time will be used for the guided completion of projects contributing to the construction of these cognitive skills. Projects will utilize various software packages that students will then use in many of their other classes in this and other departments, and will involve generating and testing hypotheses about cognition, emotion, and behavior. Students will gain skills in conducting literature reviews and questionnaire-based experiments, and get practice thinking systematically about their own hypotheses. The class will leverage the extensive expertise of faculty in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at CU, as well as professors from other departments who are affiliated with the Institute of Cognitive Science. Curriculum construction will involve creating digital video of these faculty lecturing on or discussing their domains of expertise. In this manner, students in the class will be exposed to a scientific approach to understanding the world from investigators at the forefront of their respective fields. Proposal

Ben Zwickl, College of Arts & Sciences - Physics
A comparative study of different forms of assessment in laboratory settings
Laboratory courses are unique learning environments. Compared to lecture courses, they typically involve more resources per student in terms of expense, equipment, space, contact hours with instructors, and low student/teacher ratios. They are also learning environments that emphasize a broad range of learning goals, going beyond content learning goals to include a range of scientific practices, including written and oral communication, experimental design, data analysis, and others. Despite the abundance of resources and goals that often closely align with scientific practice, laboratory courses often produce unsatisfying or uncertain outcomes of student learning. In addition, national calls have been made for lab courses that engage students in more disciplinary-relevant activities as a mans to improve recruitment and retention of students in STEM. For decades, efforts have been made to transform laboratory environments across the sciences, with "inquiry-based" being one of the more popular approaches. However, even now, it is difficult to compare the efficacy of these innovations, and it is equally difficult for instructors to implement meaningful assessments in their laboratory courses. In spite of the need, the STEM education community has few assessment tools for laboratory teaching environments. Doing robust assessment in these environments has remained a long-standing challenge in laboratory instruction and physics education research. Proposal

Current Graduate Scholars:

Susanna Kohler, College of Arts & Sciences - Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences
Advisor: Seth Hornstein
Can we train scientists to communicate effectively with the public? Proposal

Kyuhan Koh, College of Engineering & Applied Science - Computer Science
Advisor: Alex Repenning
Computing Computational Thinking: Towards the Automatic Recognition of Computational Thinking in Real Time Proposal

Jeffrey LaMarche, College of Engineering & Applied Science - Computer Science
Advisor: Tom Yeh
Developing User Interface and Peer Instruction: Assessing Results on Engagement, Retention, and Failure Rate for CSCI 1300 Introduction to Computer Programming Proposal

Ben Van Dusen, School of Education
Advisor: Valerie Otero
Boundary Objects that Mediate Students' Motivation and Identity Toward Physics Proposal

Past Chancellor's Scholars