University of Georgia Office of STEM Education
The University of Georgia Office of STEM Education has a mission to provide campus-wide leadership for STEM activities and serves as a clearinghouse for STEM education information at UGA.
Office of the Vice President for Instruction, University of Georgia
Profile submitted by Charles Kutal
Vision and Goals
The mission of the University of Georgia (UGA) Office of STEM Education (OSE) is to provide campus-wide leadership for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities. The OSE's primary goals are to (1) increase the number of students who succeed in STEM courses; (2) increase the number of students who purse baccalaureate degrees in STEM fields; and (3) make science and mathematics teacher production a high priority to ease Georgia's severe shortage of teachers in these subject areas.
To coordinate on-campus STEM activities, UGA created the university-wide Office of STEM Education (OSE) as a "one-stop-shop" for STEM faculty and STEM departments. Leadership of the OSE is provided by the Director, who is a Chemistry Professor and Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences. A full-time program coordinator and accountant comprise the OSE staff. The OSE is situated under the direction of the Office of the Vice President for Instruction, with the director reporting directly to the Vice President. A centralized office offers the best possible opportunities for achieving the OSE goals.
Description of Programming
The Office of STEM Education main programmatic activities include:
- Assist UGA STEM faculty with funding opportunities related to STEM teaching and learning (we bring together STEM faculty who have interest in seeking external grant funding; we fund mini-grants to UGA faculty for the improvement of STEM instruction and student learning; we assist STEM faculty with the development of the NSF Broader Impacts Statement and provide external grant letters of support);
- Promote and develop collaborative partnerships among UGA STEM faculty and K-12 educators in local public school districts (we fund professional learning communities for UGA faculty and K-12 teachers; assist UGA faculty and K-12 educators with finding potential partners for professional development, projects, and funding opportunities); and
- Disseminate best practices in STEM teaching and learning (we host the annual UGA Institute on STEM Teaching and Learning and promote the annual Georgia Scholarship of STEM Teaching and Learning Conference. These conferences feature many of our STEM mini-grant recipients' research to improve instruction in STEM classrooms).
Successes and Impacts
The OSE manages a highly successful mini-grant program designed to encourage faculty to undertake innovative projects that (1) improve instruction and student learning in undergraduate STEM courses, and (2) provide contributions to the scholarship of teaching and learning. Since FY09, a total of 53 STEM mini-grants have been awarded. A large number of faculty members, primarily from arts and sciences and engineering departments, have been active in the mini-grant program. Several grantees reported improvements in teaching practices and student learning, and many of these conclusions were supported by data collected as part of their grants. [See the OSE website (www.ose.uga.edu/) for specific evaluation data that support the findings of each mini-grant.] Grantees have disseminated their results in peer-reviewed publications and at annual meetings of state and national professional organizations. In a few cases, the work sponsored through the mini-grant program led to larger grant proposals and in additional funding (e.g., National Science Foundation CAREER and REESE grants).
Elements Contributing to Success
Collaboration among the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education, and the College of Engineering, as well as other STEM departments and K-12 educators, is the OSE's key to success. Improving student learning and encouraging faculty to improve instruction demand integrated solutions and a coordinated approach. The OSE provides support and services to STEM faculty across the campus to advance the work of the many STEM projects and programs on the UGA campus.