STEM Central Station (STEM Station)
The STEM Station represents a definitive and intentional strategy to create and sustain an educational culture where STEM students, faculty and staff are engaged in learner-centered experiences that facilitate successful navigation through critical junctures in their educational and professional careers. The framework of the STEM Station is the concept of self-authorship.
Provost Office, Boise State University
Profile submitted by Patricia Pyke
Vision and Goals
- Connect STEM students with the right resources at the right time to create relevance to classroom learning and stimulate personal development.
- Support STEM faculty professional development and expertise in scholarly teaching, education research and interdisciplinary teams.
- Integrate NSF-sponsored and other campus programs that support STEM student success, faculty development, diversity and K-20 education research and initiatives.
- Research the influence of the STEM Station on faculty and student development and transitions through critical junctures.
- Engage STEM faculty and students together in research and service-learning to address energy, environment, education and other grand challenges.
The STEM Station is a partially externally funded (by an NSF I^3 grant) and partially internally funded center for enhancing STEM teaching and learning. The STEM Station was originally created (in Fall 2010) through funding from an NSF grant to address critical junctures of STEM faculty and students at Boise State and provide enhanced capacity to over a dozen NSF funded STEM education projects. The PI (Provost Schimpf) and 4 Co-PIs (McGuire, Viskupic, Nadelson, Moll – see http://stem.boisestate.edu/about-us/faculty-staff/) selected a director for the STEM Station (Pyke – full time 12 month contract) to oversee the day-day commitments of the center. Over the last three years the STEM Station has evolved and broadened scope in address K-12 STEM education, community STEM education, and STEM teaching and learning research assessment and evaluation.
The STEM Station has both a community council and advisory board to provide vision and direction as well as feedback and analysis of the related projects and activities. The grant team take the primary responsibility for coordination and implementation of the activities, projects, and research associated with the STEM Station. We have added a faculty scholar (full year, full time) in residence to the STEM Station to provide support for assessment and evaluation of STEM teaching and learning projects.
Description of Programming
Two primary instruments were developed by the external evaluation team and the project team to guide the focus of STEM Station strategies and interventions – the STEM Student Engagement Survey and the STEM Faculty Instructional Practices Survey.
- STEM Student Engagement Survey.
- In the second year of the survey, approximately 1,500 STEM students were invited to take the survey in fall 2012; approximately 133 students completed the survey. A six-page executive summary of the survey results provided by the Metiri Group is uploaded as an attachment. Findings indicate a need to facilitate faculty student interaction regarding professional opportunities such as research and internships, greater support in math and chemistry, increased encouragement to participate in clubs and organizations, accommodating work and family commitments, increased tutoring support in multiple forms, and greater faculty engagement in teaching. Several actions have been taken to address the needs identified in the surveys. Internships and research opportunities have been heavily marketed via social media, workshops and enhanced websites. Academic support, namely Learning Assistants, has been provided for all 100 level math courses and increased support to Chemistry courses. Student engagement in co-curricular activities has been fostered via collaborating on a summer Bridge program, an increase in STEM student organizations, and a growing summer research program that includes many social activities. Faculty development opportunities facilitated by the Center for Teaching and Learning were brought to the departments (specifically MSE, Bio, Math). Areas of emphasis for 2012-2013 will be continued enhancements on these areas of need, along with advocating and documenting the need for addressing the financial needs of our students, inclusive of scholarships and paid internships to decrease pressures of working for pay at off-campus, non-STEM jobs. STEM Faculty
- Instructional Practices Survey.
- We are continuing to our annual data collection of STEM faculty instructional practices. This is the third year for this activity as we continue to seek information with regard to instruction implementation and needs for preparation. The Instructional Practices survey has been revised over the last three years and in its present form is effective for gathering data associated with how STEM faculty teach, their preferences for teaching, and their areas of desired professional development to enhance their capacity and effectiveness. We are currently working with our evaluator to develop a manuscript detailing the survey and an effective mechanism for sharing the survey. We will report the survey instruments in the "Products" section of the next annual report. The results of the effectiveness of the Learning Assistants program for fall 2012 are reported a series of tables uploaded as attachments. Students who regularly attend LA sessions continue to consistently outperform their peers in terms of course GPA.
- Graduate Certificate in College Teaching
- In order to help graduate students prepare themselves for academic careers and as a way to provide professional development to graduate students in the area of instructional practices, we helped to develop a Graduate Certificate in College Teaching at Boise State University. Plans for the new Graduate Certificate in College Teaching will be reviewed at the Idaho State Board of Education meeting in early Fall, 2013, where approval is expected. The Graduate Certificate in College Teaching is designed to enhance teaching effectiveness of graduate teaching assistants and provide marketable skills for graduate students wishing to seek employment in higher education as instructors. The program will be open to all graduate students who are considering employment in higher education. We anticipate enrolling 10 students during the 2013-2014 school year, 15 new students the following year, and 20 new students in each subsequent year. The Graduate Certificate will require 8-9 credits of work and is expected to take students 2-3 years to complete while they simultaneously make progress on their graduate degree. See Products section for curriculum plan. –
- Self-Authorship and Learning Partnership Research
- We are progressing in our study of STEM student professional identity development using the framework of self-authorship. We have refined our criteria for defining the construct and have examined multiple facets of gathering data reflective of students' level of self-authorship development – again focusing on the perceptions of their professional identity as a STEM professional. After several rounds of input from the STEM Education Research Scholars, we completed the development of an instrument designed to gather data reflective of student professional identity through the self-authorship lens. We have piloted this instrument with a broad range of STEM students, collecting 276 responses. We are currently analyzing the data, coding the free response items for levels of professional identity development and seeking trends in the selected response items to determine relationships between academic activities, preferences for learning, and perception of their academic experience.
Successes and Impacts
Strategies to address student critical junctures:
- Learning Assistants.
- The Learning Assistant program expanded and provides peer-led learning in gateway STEM courses. In fall 2012 the Learning Assistant Program provided 22 LAs in 26 sections of 14 gateway STEM courses (1518 students enrolled). 420 (28%) attended LA sessions with 207 attending 3 or more sessions. An analysis of the LA program showed participants who attended 3 or more sessions had a course grade .48 points higher than non-participants, and an 85% passing rate compared to 68% for non-participants. In spring 2013 (underway), LA Program is providing 34 LAs in 30 sections of 19 gateway STEM courses.
- Undergraduate Research Support.
- Providing university-level leadership to advance student involvement in this high-impact practice included a) integrated Summer Research Community (NSF Chemistry and Mathematics REUs, LSAMP, EPSCoR plus McNair Scholars, NASA, NIH and others) with 104 student and 27 regular faculty/staff participants; b) 4 research internship workshops and follow up sessions with 150 participants; c) leadership of efforts to provide an integrated and coordinated university-level undergraduate research program.
- Student Success and Engagement Initiatives.
- STEM Station coordinated with many NSF programs (such as STEP, S-STEM, LSAMP, etc.) and others to implement and support a variety of strategies including STEM-specific orientation, college visitation programs, academic workshops, summer bridge program LSAMP activities, and much more.
- STEM Careers Class.
- A new seminar series, ENGR 397 Perspectives on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Careers was offered in Spring 2013. The course was designed to highlight career opportunities for STEM majors. Guest speakers from the region presented 35-45 minute seminars to students that highlighted their own careers, their companies and provided advice to the students. More than 30 students enrolled and average attendance at each seminar was 50 people including faculty and staff from the College of Engineering. Students ranged from freshman to seniors in Biology, Mathematics, Business and Engineering majors.
Strategies to address faculty critical junctures in teaching:
- Partnerships in pedagogy.
- To encourage ownership of the STEM Station mission beyond the STEM Station team, we reached out to faculty across STEM departments to solicit input on specific projects to advance research-based pedagogy, faculty-student interaction, integration of teaching and research, and other critical junctures. We provided a rubric of guidelines and a selection process to assure the proposed partner projects were aligned with the mission of the STEM Station. We provided significant partnership in the form of strategy, implementation, funding support, assessment and follow up on projects. The wide range of projects included a curriculum mapping and STEM leadership project in the STEM department with the most degrees produced (Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering) and sponsored seminars such as Dr. Nathan Klingbeil from Wright State University. We also continued to support STEM faculty adoption of the high impact practice of Service-Learning.
- Graduate Certificate in College Teaching
- Discussed in prior section
- Integrating teaching and research.
- In partnership with the Center for Teaching and Learning we developed an original video workshop on a topic that had been suggested by faculty. The workshop was titled "Integrating Teaching and Research...not just for superhero faculty" and was part of the Great Ideas in Teaching and Learning Symposium in January 2013, was attended by 17 people and received very good input.
Strategies to address faculty critical junctures in STEM education research:
- STEM Education Research Scholars Group.
- The group meets every other week to discuss approaches and ideas for STEM education research. Currently, there are 8 scholars representing civil engineering, mathematics, chemistry, psychology, sociology, construction management, and instructional technology. The scholars are conducting a research project as a group as well as individual projects. The group project is focused on developing the tools needed to determine STEM student levels of self-authorship and the creation and validation of an observation tool to document the learning partnership model in STEM classrooms. Projects range from developing NSF proposals to determining the levels and nature of motivation of students involved in undergraduate research. Similar to last year, the goal is the successful completion of data collection and the subsequent sharing of results through the submission of publishable research reports. Based on the work of the 2011-12 cadre we currently have one report under re-review and another under the final stages of development.
- Advancing expertise in STEM education research.
- In the role of catalyst for increased faculty involvement in research-based pedagogy, the STEM Station team has been involved in leading and mentoring STEM education research expertise and teams through the submission of internal and external proposals aligned with mission of the STEM Station. In this reporting period, STEM Station team had involvement with 17 external STEM education grants submitted (14 NSF, 3 other agencies). Currently 6 were awarded, 7 pending and 4 declined. Of particular note is Boise State's WIDER Catalyst to Assess Learning and Instructional Practices for Evidence-Based Reform (CALIPER) program. This new project instigated by the STEM Station team is gathering data on reformed teaching in STEM core courses and exploring relationships between instructional practices and intended student learning outcomes.
Strategies to address university critical junctures
- Tenure and Promotion.
- The STEM Station analyzed promotion and tenure guidelines in STEM departments to identify the ways in teaching effectiveness is articulated. Under the direction of the Provost, a faculty committee was charged with revising the University promotion and tenure guidelines to increase emphasis on teaching effectiveness. The STEM Station analysis was shared with the faculty committee. The revised policy is before the Faculty Senate now.
- STEM advocacy on behalf of NSF grant teams.
- We connected with the NSF STEM education teams as a group to identify university-level STEM priorities and directions. Development of STEM data and evaluation methods is one common interest. A monthly newsletter updates ~400 STEM faculty.
- STEM community connections.
- The STEM Station has taken on the role of campus leader and voice for STEM education. To fulfill this mission as well as address the student critical juncture of entry point, we present about STEM at events and visitation days for STEM focused high school students. We also provided educational events for middle school students through adult community members by creating programs associated with our co-hosting of NPR's Talk of the Nation Science Friday in Boise. Also we provided extensive programming support for the 200+ person Pacific Northwest Louis Stokes for Minority Participation conference. Two community members serve on the STEM Station advisory board.
Elements Contributing to Success
The success of the STEM Station success is attributed to the focus on the needs and critical junctures of students and faculty and success with the implementation of the related support programs. The success has led to confidence and expectation in the STEM Station to facilitate the development of meaningful solutions, coordination of the collaboration with the right people, and thinking creatively about how to approach the complex problems associated with STEM teaching and learning. We also attribute our success to addressing the needs of students and faculty based on data. We are research driven - which has allowed us to make decisions and determine priorities for our students, faculty and campus based on data, which we feel is critical to our success and to the incredible support we have from the campus and greater STEM education community.
STEM Station Brochure (Acrobat (PDF) 1.2MB Aug1 13)