2004 - 2007 Phase IV PKAL Leadership Initiative (LI) Final Report

Science for All Seminars

LI Leadership Seminars: Science for All

Key Questions:

  • To ensure the success of all students in the STEM learning environment, who needs to be at the table, what do you have to know about your students—their diverse learning styles, backgrounds and career aspirations? What should all graduates know and be able to do as a result of their engagement as an undergraduate STEM learner?
  • How can we improve the environment for learning?
  • How do we know what works?
  • What are the lessons learned from the experiences of others and how can these be adapted to our institutional situation?
  • How to:
    • do strategic planning to build K-16 connections
    • give undergraduates ‘service-learning’ experiences that give them first-hand experience of the relevance of science and technology to the world beyond the campus
    • infuse a global dimension into the undergraduate learning environment
    • seek dollars
    • plan spaces for science.

Barriers

  • Barriers to overcome to achieve a robust undergraduate STEM learning environment for all students.
    • Lack of information about student learning outcomes in the introductory sequence for non-majors (indeed in courses for prospective majors or current majors).
    • Non-majors view science as irrelevant to their academic major.
    • Courses that are perceived as being too difficult for general students; in reality courses that are designed to filter students out of STEM.
    • Student resistance to “first encounters” (to be the guinea pigs) with pilot programs.
    • Self-perceptions of students, who fall victim to their fear they are viewed by others as being less well-prepared.
    • Demands for research productivity of faculty.
    • Fear that courses that ‘engage’ students are in essence less rigorous or content-rich.
    • No connection to national discussions about pioneering efforts (why and how) to engage all students in STEM learning.
  • Needs (& opportunities) to achieve a robust undergraduate STEM learning environment for all students.
    • Need to make an informed, institution-wide analysis of student learning, and to have people in place to do such an assessment.
    • Need to have a critical mass of campus leaders (administrators and faculty) attending to the work of supporting students who are, or are at risk to be, underperforming in STEM courses.
    • Need to develop a culture in which faculty are rewarded for strengthening student learning as well as for their research productivity.
    • Need to inform our broader constituency (parents, alumni, prospective supporters) about the value of a robust undergraduate STEM learning experience for all students.

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