Science & Engineering

U Nebraska-Lincoln Overhauls STEM Teaching

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) plans an institutional-level overhaul of its teaching practices in approximately 50 introductory science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses, with the goal of increasing student success rates in those courses.

The ARISE (Adopting Research-based Instructional Strategies for Enhancing STEM Education) program aims to improve STEM teaching using research-based methods and to help departments change the way they value, evaluate and reward teaching, according to information on the university's site. To implement these changes, the heads of 14 STEM departments will collaborate with the ARISE team. Together they will select approximately 100 faculty members to receive professional development and support and to participate in roundtable discussions.

Ruth Heaton, a professor of education at UNL and a member of the ARISE project team, and a team of educational research faculty, "have created several faculty development programs that focus on instructional strategies that promote active learning, enhance student assessment and increase student learning outcomes," according to a UNL  news release, and these programs will be implemented as part of the project.

The ARISE program expects approximately 5,000 undergraduate students to benefit from the research-based instructional techniques.

Through ARISE, the university also aims to conduct empirical research about when and why faculty change their teaching methods. The researchers will conduct interviews, observations and surveys to answer these questions, with the goal of helping other institutions transform their STEM teaching practices.

The ARISE program is funded by a three-year, $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the WIDER (Widening Implementation & Demonstration of Evidence-Based Reforms) Program.

The effectiveness of the project will be assessed by the Technical Education Research Centers' STEM Education Evaluation Center, an independent company based in Cambridge, MA that focuses on improving math and science education.

Further information about the ARISE program can be found on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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