An Innovative Science Teaching Institute at Broward College
Success rates for science courses at Broward are low. The low rates affect student retention and completion in STEM and college-wide.
This project will apply existing knowledge about the impact of effective STEM instructional techniques to a large, public, diverse two-year college setting. Most of the studies on the effects of using active learning to teach collegiate science have taken place at four-year research universities. There are important differences between those institutions and two-year colleges like Broward College. For example, students at four-year colleges are probably better prepared for college-level coursework in science and are usually traditional students. Additionally, Broward College is more diverse than most four-year research universities, allowing for a more thorough assessment of the impact of changing teaching approaches on underrepresented, first generation, and non-traditional students.
While many studies have assessed the impact of the use of active learning in college science classrooms, few have explored the underlying reasons for that impact. This project will examine the effect of the intervention on a number of non-cognitive factors that have been shown to be important indicators student achievement, student learning, and persistence in STEM majors. This study will also investigate how changes in student behaviors and attitudes are related to their learning and grades and how those relationships vary with race, culture, gender, and adult learner status. Finally, we will investigate how changes in pedagogy affect student behaviors, such as study time, attendance, and utilization of academic support services.
The goals of the project are to increase student and minority success in science courses that have been redesigned to utilize active and evidence based learning. We also seek to understand how and why those changes in pedagogy affect student learning and achievement. The proposed work will focus on a small number of faculty and courses with the anticipation that positive results will allow Broward College to later broaden the effort and impact all science instruction at the college.
We will develop and pilot an ﾓInnovative Science Teaching Instituteﾔ (ISTI) at Broward College. This effort will provide a limited number of faculty with intensive training in innovative teaching techniques and help them transform a science course to be taught using those techniques. The institute will take place the Summer of 2016 and faculty will pilot and assess the transformed course in the following Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters. Faculty involved in the institute will be well supported through the use of professional learning communities to discuss challenges and successes. We will also test the efficacy of disseminating successfully transformed courses to adjunct instructors, through a one-week workshop during the winter break of 2016/17. All faculty who teach the transformed science courses will utilize well-trained learning assistants to help implement active learning activities in the classroom.
We hope to achieve the following:
1. Increase success rates (C or better) by at least 5% above baseline levels.
2. Reduce minority achievement gaps by one half.
3. Increase studentsﾒ positive non-cognitive beliefs and attitudes towards science, including their self-efficacy towards achievement in science.
4. Increase the self-efficacy of the instructors with regard to affecting student success.
The project seeks to find and implement effective ways to decrease the underrepresentation of racial and cultural minorities in STEM degree programs and careers, addressing a well-recognized problem of critical national importance. By changing studentsﾒ interest, self-conception, and self-efficacy towards STEM careers and degrees, the proposed work has the potential to increase the number and diversity of students pursuing a life in science. Dissemination of a successful effort at Broward College will provide much needed information and encouragement for similar efforts at other community colleges. Due to the large number of students and underrepresented students who attend community colleges, they show great potential to play an important role in increasing the domestic STEM workforce while including those who are often excluded from science.
The project started in September. We are just getting under way.
No publications yet.