Initial Publication Date: December 14, 2021

About this Project

Improving student outcomes and increasing the participation of groups underrepresented in STEM has become a national priority. In response to this priority, national professional development organizations independently support interventions to improve pedagogy and other factors in undergraduate STEM learning. Through the "Bridging to STEM Excellence" (BTSE) project, ran from 2020 through 2023, five well-established initiatives came together as a Consortium to work with an initial set of four institutional partners. They aimed to create a pilot consultancy program that accelerates the adoption of department- and program-level interventions proven to improve student learning outcomes and retention in STEM.

The project sought to establish and train a consultancy corps of experienced faculty developers from the consortium organizations. The organizations include the BioQUEST Curricular Consortium, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement's Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) program, The Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) Project, and the Summer Institutes for Scientific Teaching. This effort supported the integration of national, NSF-supported STEM education initiatives to provide holistic support that will help educators achieve improved student outcomes. Consortium members worked to collaboratively build a community of practice and develop a consultancy corps that is knowledgeable in the improvement practices of all five initiatives. Three-member teams were assigned to work with one of the following four partner institutions: Bakersfield College, California State University-Chico, Georgia State University, and the University of Richmond. The Consortium then undertook a cycle of consultation, action, and follow-up support to achieve the following goals:

  1. The development of a community of practice among the five national initiatives, increasing their reach and coordinating their support for professional development and programmatic change; and
  2. The development of a consultancy program that serves as a bridge between the national initiatives and individual institutional efforts to improve instruction and student support practices.

Evaluation activities provided formative and summative feedback on the consultancy model, using a community of practice lens. Research conducted during the project examined the impact of the change efforts at each institution, including the development of new tools to study readiness for change. The collective expertise of Consortium members and their available resources and approaches, along with a set of new materials to support the consultancy corps, are available through the BTSE website. The NSF IUSE: EHR Program supports research and development projects to improve the effectiveness of STEM education for all students. This project is in the Institutional and Community Transformation track, through which the IUSE: EHR program supports efforts to transform and improve STEM education across institutions of higher education and disciplinary communities.

This project is supported by the NSF Award: No. 1933897