Twelve MSU faculty members named to third cohort of STEM Fellows

  • Aug 8, 2018
  • NSF, 3-D Learning, teaching, STEM Education
  • Homepage Hero, Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Research, Students, BEACON Center, CISGS, CMSE, College of Natural Science, Microbiology, Physics & Astronomy, Statistics & Probability

Twelve Michigan State University (MSU) faculty members from the College of Natural Science (NatSci) have been selected for the fall 2018 cohort of MSU’s STEM Teaching and Learning Fellowship, a program funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and additional support from MSU’s Office of the Provost.

Image of student with clicker and diagram in class
MSU is implementing an innovative teaching and learning model known as three-dimensional (3-D) learning to help faculty create courses that allow students to engage in the same types of activities that scientists engage in. Photo by Harley Seeley.

Building on work that began six years ago and was funded by the Association of American Universities, MSU is implementing an innovative teaching and learning model known as three-dimensional (3-D) learning supported by a five-year, $1,323,499 grant from NSF. The project, Extending a Coherent Gateway to STEM Teaching and Learning, is a collaborative initiative between NatSci, Lyman Briggs College and partner institutions— Florida International University, Grand Valley State University and Kansas State University. Additional funds from the collaborative partnership bring the total to $2 million for the project.

“The program’s first two cohorts were focused on faculty who teach the gateway courses.  With this cohort, we’ve expanded the program to faculty who teach 200- and 300-level courses,” said Cori Fata-Hartley, NatSci assistant dean for curriculum coordination and co-principal investigator on the project. “This will help us to continue to align the curricula vertically across different programs and across different disciplines.

“We want to create courses that will allow students to engage in the same types of activities that scientists engage in,” Fata-Hartley added.

 “This fellowship provides an opportunity for me to examine my teaching and identify ways of engaging students to a greater degree,” said Louise Mead, one of the fellows. She is an evolutionary biologist and education director of the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action.

“I hope the fellowship will allow me to become part of a broader community of faculty and instructors who are invested in evidence-based teaching and learning,” Mead added. “I am hoping that I will both learn from others in the community and have the opportunity to examine my own teaching to integrate additional pedagogical practices.”

Another fellow, Devin Silvia, is a teaching specialist in the Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering with a background in computational astrophysics. Using simulations, he studies how the gas between and around galaxies evolves with time.

“I believe that every student in my courses is capable of succeeding and I try to design my courses to benefit all of my students, not just those who are likely to succeed regardless of the quality of the instructor,” Silvia said. “This fellowship is another step along my path as a committed educator.”

Image of chemistry student using BeSocratic
3-D learning allows students to use ideas combined with science practices and cross-cutting concepts to explain phenomena and solve problems. Photo by Harley Seeley.

The overarching goal of the program is to improve undergraduate STEM courses by engaging faculty in conversations about core ideas of the discipline and how students should be able to use those ideas combined with science practices and crosscutting concepts to explain phenomena and solve problems.

“From the previous cohorts, we’ve learned how to improve the experience for faculty,” Fata-Hartley said. “We are continuing to develop materials and approaches within the fellowship to engage faculty. The grant will also allow us to evaluate the effectiveness and the impact of the fellowship on the incorporation of three-dimensional learning in these courses.”

“Three-dimensional learning involves a focus on core ideas of a discipline, the ways that students use such knowledge, and how that knowledge may be connected across disciplines,” said Melanie Cooper, lead investigator on the project and a Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education in the MSU Department of Chemistry. “This approach to teaching and learning requires changes in curriculum design, changes in pedagogy, and perhaps most important of all, changes in the ways that students are assessed. We know that the assessments in a course send a strong message to students about what is important, and for that reason we will focus on the design of more assessment items that help students learn, and provide meaningful feedback for both students and instructors.”  

In addition to Mead and Silvia, the other MSU fellows are:

Andrea Bierema, teaching specialist, Center for Integrative Studies in General Science

Bob Drost, assistant professor, Center for Integrative Studies in General Science

Osvaldo Hernandez, teaching specialist, Center for Integrative Studies in General Science

John Keane, teaching specialist, Department of Statistics and Probability

Katie Krueger, instructor, Biological Sciences Program

Huey-Wen Lin, assistant professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

John Mugg, instructor, Center for Integrative Studies in General Science

Kirstin Parkin, assistant professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Jaideep Singh, assistant professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Pengpeng Zhang, associate professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Each of the fellows will receive a stipend that can be used for professional development activities or teaching support.

 

Banner image: The five-year, $1,323,499 grant from NSF in support of this project will allow the fellowship to continue to develop materials and approaches within the fellowship to engage faculty, as well as allow them to evaluate the effectiveness and the impact of the fellowship on the incorporation of three-dimensional learning in these courses. Photo by Harley Seeley.