AAU report shows progress in STEM teaching at Carolina and seven other schools

The Association of American Universities (AAU) released a five-year status report that highlights institutional progress in improving the quality of undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning resulting from the Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative. The Oct. 3 report provides detailed analysis of STEM educational reforms at eight seed-funded AAU STEM project sites, including Carolina.

“Our member universities are educating tomorrow’s leaders in STEM, preparing them to enter the dynamic 21st century economy,” noted AAU President Mary Sue Coleman. “It’s critical that our teaching methods are not only effective, but also engaging as we work to retain students in STEM fields.”

The other project sites include Brown, Michigan State and Washington universities; the universities of Arizona and Pennsylvania; the University of California, Davis; and the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The objective of Carolina’s STEM project is to support the widespread adoption of high-structure, active-learning (HSAL) practices in large introductory-level lecture-based STEM courses through a mentor/apprentice program. In the program, faculty who are experienced in HSAL practices and those who are less experienced pair up to teach redesigned courses.

After completing the co-teaching experience, apprentices go on to teach the redesigned courses on their own. At Carolina, D and F grades in redesigned introductory courses dropped from 11.5 percent in 2013 to 9.5 percent in 2016. The learning gains in HSAL courses were 13 percent higher than in traditional courses. Redesigned courses also substantially reduced the classroom performance gap between majority and underrepresented minority students.

Published Oct. 30, 2017