Center for Science and Math Education (CSME)
The primary mission of CSME is to advance literacy and meaningful participation in science, math, and integrated STEM among students from pre-K through undergraduate levels, focusing on supporting minoritized and economically disadvantaged students' access to inclusive, high-quality STEM education.
, Loyola University Chicago
Profile submitted by Timothy Stoelinga
Vision and Goals
Through engagement in partnerships, program development, and meaningful research, Loyola CSME aims to:
- Provide professional learning in inquiry-based, inclusive, research-informed science, math, and integrated STEM instruction for teachers in local PK-12 school districts
- Promote inclusive, active-learning practices among LUC STEM faculty
- Provide programs to support inclusivity and academic success for students from minoritized groups in undergraduate STEM fields at LUC
- Conduct research in the context of our partnerships and programs to contribute to knowledge in the field of STEM education
Loyola CSME operates from within the Provost's Office, directed by a faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences. The Center is staffed by three additional teaching and clinical research faculty, a team of four instructional coaches, one research specialist, and two administrative staff. The Center partners extensively with PK-12 Chicago-area schools and districts on teacher professional learning programs in science, math, and integrated STEM. We also collaborate with units across the university on programs aimed at enhancing inclusive instruction and student success in undergraduate STEM at Loyola.
Are there advantages of being structured this way?
The primary advantage of operating from the centralized location of the Provost's Office is that it facilitates collaboration across a broad range of academic units at the university. As such, the Center is able to maintain close, productive partnerships with the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Education, the Institute for Racial Justice, and the School of Environmental Sustainability.
Are there particular challenges that result from this structure?
The primary challenge of this structure is the lack of the larger infrastructure and resources (e.g., grant management, administrative support, outreach, web development, endowment resources, etc.) that are available when operating from within a school or larger administrative office.
The work of CSME is supported by grant funds from both Federal programs and private foundations, fee-for-service partnerships, and funds from the University which largely support the Center's faculty personnel.
How has this funding structure influenced the undergraduate STEM education programming the center offers?
The Center's undergraduate STEM programming has been funded largely by Federal and private foundation grants.
What are the specific advantages of having a center funded in this way?
Grant partnerships provide funding that otherwise would not be available to support our efforts in undergraduate STEM education programming and research. In addition, programs and projects developed for Federal and private grant proposals often lead to particularly collaborative, innovative, interdisciplinary approaches.
What are the challenges?
The challenge of reliance on external funding focuses squarely on sustainability of programming, where even the most successful projects often are not able to be sustained at the end of funding periods when additional dovetail grants are not readily available.
Has this funding structure has changed over time?
The funding structure of the Center has been consistent since its inception.
Description of Programming
Loyola CSME's program of professional learning supports high-quality teaching and learning in K-12 science and mathematics. From our 20 years of experience partnering with schools, networks, and districts, we have developed an approach to professional learning with teachers, administrators, and staff that:
+ focuses on established principles of effective STEM instruction
+ aligns with current standards and research-based curricula
+ is ongoing, sustainable, and closely connects to classroom instruction
+ is responsive to the context and goals of local schools/districts
+ strives to enhance STEM participation among minoritized groups in STEM
Through grant-based partnerships with Loyola's College of Arts and Sciences and School of Education, CSME also engages in the direct support undergraduate student success in STEM programs and promotes effective, innovative, and inclusive instructional approaches. Our projects are particularly focused on developing pathways toward the successful completion of STEM and STEM-education degrees for students from historically excluded groups including BIPOC, women, first-generation college students, and non-native English speakers.
Successes and Impacts
As CSME continues in its disciplinary commitment to supporting high-quality science and math instruction, our mission has evolved to bring equity to the fore, and to increasingly and explicitly work toward the inclusion of more students from more diverse backgrounds who benefit from participation in meaningful STEM-related pursuits. Illustrative instances of CSME's equity-focused work at CSME include:
1. An HHMI-funded program of undergraduate STEM research, mentorship, and learning-community supports targeting over 600 undergraduates, largely rom minoritized groups and first-generation college students, which includes a longitudinal research study on the impact of research mentorships on long-term persistence in STEM among students from minoritized groups
2. An NSF-funded collaboration with the LUC Math Department to introduce active learning in LUC introductory undergraduate mathematics courses, supporting more inclusive approaches to instruction along critical course pathways in STEM for over 1000 students
3. A partnership with the LUC Institute for Racial Justice, My Brothers Keeper, Obama Foundation, and McDougal Foundation, focusing on enhancing the pipeline of black male mathematics teacher and teacher leaders in Chicago Public Schools
4. A suite of science- and math-focused partnerships with diverse, high-needs K-12 schools and districts, including: Chicago Public Schools (serving ~30 schools in district of 63% low-income students, 82% BIPOC students); Chicago Archdiocese (serving three high-needs secondary schools supported by Big Shoulders Fund and five Title-1 elementary schools); and partnerships with four diverse suburban school districts
Evaluation and Assessment
How does your center demonstrate its value, both in terms of assessing its own programming and responding to external evaluation?
Our program evaluation team applies social scientific research methods to questions of program efficacy in terms of implementation (i.e., how the work gets done), outcomes (i.e., what work gets done), and process (i.e., how the project team works together). Our team has considerable experience serving as both internal and external evaluators on a wide variety of education-related projects, with an overall approach of serving as "critical friends" to project teams. By investigating questions generated with input from program stakeholders and informed by design-based implementation research and improvement science, our evaluation program helps us better understand areas of work that are thriving, as well as areas that require attention or adjustment.
Elements Contributing to Success
Loyola CSME has benefitted first and foremost from Loyola's Jesuit commitment to "walk with the excluded" toward a vision of a "transformative education honoring diversity, equity, and inclusion". This vision of social justice resonates with CSME's moral imperative to enhance minoritized and economically disadvantaged students' opportunities for meaningful participation in STEM disciplines. As a result, university administration has firmly committed to the Center's work since its inception in 2002, through funding of leadership positions, and most recently through a full-scale, capital renovation of our space (office, demo lab, and storage) on campus. The growing commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration on campus has also nurtured our prominent partnerships and led to numerous projects, programs, and grants on and off campus.