STEM Educational Alliance fall meeting marks four years of improving STEM education at MSU

  • Sep 6, 2016
  • Faculty & Staff, Research, Chemistry, CREATE for STEM

students in a lab

The STEM Educational Alliance is working to advance the effectiveness of teaching and improving student learning, especially in the crucial gateway STEM courses.

The MSU STEM Educational Alliance recently held its fall meeting and reception earlier this month, an occasion which marks the beginning of the fourth year of this organization devoted to improving STEM education at MSU – especially in the crucial gateway STEM courses.

The goal of the STEM Alliance is to create a faculty and staff learning community in the area of college-level STEM education, and to connect those doing research on Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER), those interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning, those interested in scholarly teaching, and those interested in continuing faculty development in teaching and learning in MSU STEM colleges.

The presentations at this workshop focused on work in chemistry which was part of the MSU American Association of Universities Program and Howard Hughes Medical Institute STEM education projects.

The workshop began with an overview by Melanie Cooper of the theoretical framework underlying the work on STEM education at MSU: the three-dimensional approach advocated in the Next Generation Science Standards, focused on the core concepts, science practices, and cross-cutting ideas that it is essential for every student to learn in a given STEM class. Cooper showed compelling data to demonstrate the efficacy of this three-dimensional learning approach in introductory chemistry, CEM 141/142 at MSU, based on the CLUE curriculum she and her collaborator have developed.

Justin Carmel, a postdoc in Melanie’s group, then followed with a description of the chemistry lab transformation that has been undertaken in CEM 161/162. Justin described the revised lab curriculum, based on Cooperative Chemistry, an approach that employs student teams to complete multi-week projects, therefore focusing on science practices, rather than the “cookbook” labs often found in traditional introductory laboratory courses.

“Students come to MSU to become members of the MSU Spartan community and to learn from faculty, academic staff, and advisors,” said Sekhar Chivukula, associate provost for undergraduate education and dean of undergraduate studies at MSU. “The work of Melanie, Justin, their collaborators and of the STEM Alliance and other groups of MSU educators across campus in advancing the effectiveness of our teaching and improving student learning, is absolutely essential. I look forward to seeing what our MSU STEM Educational Alliance colleagues do in the future!”

The STEM Alliance is a collaboration across the STEM disciplines in the four undergraduate STEM colleges of Natural ScienceEngineeringAgriculture and Natural Resources, and Lyman Briggs College, as well as the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, and the CREATE for STEM Institute.