CSME Accomplishments 2017-2018

Accomplishments from the 2017-2018 annual report are described below. Note that the CSME is in the process of transitioning to a calendar-year reporting cycle, and so the 2017-2018 report covers a longer range of time than other reports (19 months).

2017-2018 Accomplishments & Milestones

Enhancing the quality and equity of K-12 math and science instruction in Utah

Engaged two cohorts of teachers (54 total individuals) in the Elementary STEM Endorsement. ESE offers a six-course sequence over 20 months to provide in-service K-6 teachers with pedagogical content knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and math. The first cohort (of 34) completed the program in May 2017. In 2017-2018, the program name was changed to “U-BEES” (UofU Building Excellence in Elementary STEM). There were two active cohorts in U-BEES during this timeframe; 95% of these teachers are from highly impacted schools. The application process for a new cohort will begin in early 2019.

Launched the Teacher Leadership Cohort. In 2017-2018, CSME launched the Teacher Leadership Cohort (TLC) to support leadership development for six elementary teacher leaders who had completed the U-BEES program in the first cohort. Over the course of the 2017-2018 academic year, participants met monthly to build their leadership skills and expand their capacity to implement the content learned in U-BEES.

Hosted a 5-day professional development workshop (the “SEEd Swap”) in July/August 2017 in conjunction with Utah’s adoption of new SEEd standards for grades 6-8. Participants observed modeled sample lessons and expert lectures emphasizing the new content for each grade. SEEd Swap workshop curriculum was developed collaboratively with 5 in-service teachers who had previously graduated from other CSME programs. Full sets of ready-to-implement materials for all of the content and grades were prepared. Over 100 teachers applied for the workshop; 60 attended.

Co-built and co-implemented a multi-day “Lead for SEEd Train the Trainer” workshop in Summer 2018. This multi-day workshop was attended by 50 science specialists and instructional coaches from every county in Utah. Upon completing the workshop, each attendee was expected to then lead a workshop in his/her district to support the implementation of the new SEEd standards.

Graduated 18 MSSST Physics students in December 2018 and admitted the first MSSST cohort in Geology & Geophysics (Earth Science – 24 students). CSME developed and taught a new course (GEO 6920 – Physical and Field Geology for Teachers) for the 2017 and 2018 MSSST students. CSME continues to lead monthly pedagogical content knowledge seminars and provide individual research support to MSSST students.

Collaborated with several institutions to support research experiences for teachers. As a member of CARET (Collaborative Around Research Experiences for Teachers), CSME participated in a meta-review of teacher research experience literature.

Continued collaborations with the College of Education for NSF-IUSE: Improving the Training of Science and Math Teachers. This three-year project seeks to improve the training of pre-service elementary school teachers by understanding and improving coherence across courses.

Promoting academic success and career readiness of undergraduates in math and science at the University of Utah

Received a 5-year HHMI Inclusive Excellence grant in 2017 for Utah Pathways to STEM (UPSTEM). UPSTEM is designed to build the infrastructure needed to improve outcomes for students transferring from Salt Lake Community College to math and science majors at the U. In Summer 2018, 15 faculty members were selected from the U and SLCC as UPSTEM Fellows through a competitive application process. These fellows worked together on a number of projects of their own conception to enact more inclusive instructional approaches within their courses and departments. In Fall 2018, several student focus groups were conducted to identify issues related to campus climate, and progress was made on data sharing agreements and curriculum articulation between the U and SLCC. A new Associates of STEM Transfer degree is being developed which will, if adopted, greatly facilitate transfer efficiency in math and science.

Initiated a College-wide Learning Assistant program to enhance student learning and support course and curriculum transformation. These efforts began with a small-scale Learning Assistant (LA) program in the 2017-2018 academic year, and in Fall 2018, the College of Science invested $200K to expand the program to the entire College. Undergraduate LAs collaborate with faculty instructors and graduate teaching assistants to build interactive, collaborative, and inclusive learning environments.  They enroll in The Science of Learning (SCI 5050); 4 sections of SCI 5050 were offered by CSME during the reporting period. The CSME manages the LA program and coordinates recruitment, placement, and orientation. In 2017-2018, 78 student LAs (8 in Fall 2017, 14 in Spring 2018, 56 in Fall 2018) were placed and directly impacted ~3,000 students. Efforts to assess program impacts on faculty, students, and LAs are currently underway. The vast majority of LAs (over 70%) choose to participate in the program for multiple semesters.

Led a strategic faculty hiring initiative with a long-term goal of embedding discipline-based education researchers in each of the four departments of the College of Science. These scholars will join existing math/science education faculty members in the College of Education to form a multidisciplinary research cluster that will advance two priorities: a) improving and enhancing undergraduate education in math and science; and b) increasing the number and/or improving the efficacy of K-12 math and science teachers. The search was a success; over 150 candidates applied for the cluster hire positions in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics & Astronomy. Offers are anticipated for one chemist and one physicist in 2019.

Led initial conversations regarding the development of a cohort-based undergraduate research initiative for the College of Science. CSME brought two national experts to campus to give presentations on different research models in December, 2018 – Edward Coyle (Vertically Integrated Projects, Georgia Tech) and Sarah Simmonds (Freshman Research Initiative). The College intends to move forward with launching the undergraduate research initiative in Summer/Fall 2019.

The College of Science Internship Program placed 45 students in internships (6/1/17-12/31/18). A total of 26 different employers advertised positions through the program over this period. In an effort to reduce barriers to participation, the College of Science offered stipends to students completing 100 hrs at unpaid internships in 2018. A full-time Internship Coordinator was hired for the program in November 2018. The Internship Coordinator participates on a university-wide internship council and is enhancing collaboration between the College of Science Internship Program and other internship programs on campus.

The REFUGES Bridge Program served 25 incoming underrepresented college freshmen (15 in Summer 2017 and 10 in Summer 2018). Starting in 2017, REFUGES Bridge enhanced its program by partnering with the LEAP program and offering two for-credit summer courses that count towards students’ general education requirements – Math 1050 (College Algebra) and LEAP 1100 (Pre-STEM). Students are supported by a paid peer mentor trained by the LEAP program, and their summer experience feeds into an optional academic year LEAP experience.

CSME continued to support curriculum development projects. Courses developed and/or taught by CSME during the reporting period include SCI 2010 (Nature of Scientific Inquiry), SCI 2020 (Science and Society), SCI 5050 (Science of Learning). SCI 2010 holds a SF general education designation and introduces students to the scientific endeavor through integrated science experiences, SCI 2020 introduces students to the various ways science and society interact, and SCI 5050 provides students with tools and skills to be effective as classroom teaching assistants. In addition to the SCI courses, CSME created a new science-focused BlockU program, the “da Vinci” block, that introduces students to the practices and processes of science while exploring the intersection of science, philosophy, art, and society. The first da Vinci block launched in Fall 2017.

Facilitated collaboration among 3 different REU programs on campus (Chemistry, Physics & Astronomy, and MRSEC). CSME coordinated professional development and social activities for students and developed and analyzed a student-attitude survey for each program. An “All Programs Social” was coordinated by CSME for students in these research programs and others, including HCI PathMakers, NARI, Physics SURP, REFUGES Summer Bridge, and SPUR.

Faculty attendance at CSME Exchanges continued to grow. The CSME Exchange held 11 exchanges in 2017-2018 with 15-30 attendees at each meeting.

The Hugo Rossi Lecture Series hosted 6 speakers in 2017-2018 and invited the College of Science and College of Education to nominate and co-host speakers of interest. Hugo Rossi lecture events were well-attended with 35-50 attendees at each, which is in-line with attendance patterns in the previous year.

Increasing access for K-12 students to high-quality math and science experiences at the University of Utah

Engaged over 100 underrepresented students (grades 7-12) in the REFUGES Afterschool Program. Program components included academic support, math and science enrichment activities, art and dance activities, health and wellness workshops, and college and career readiness. The REFUGES afterschool program ran at the University of Utah, with Saturday activities (including an ACT preparatory course) offered to 10-12th graders at the Refugee Education & Training Center. Approximately 25 students participated in the afterschool program each semester (Fall and Spring), 34 students attended the Saturday program, and 28 students participated in a Summer 2017 program. Starting in Fall 2017, 23 students participated in the NSF funded ASSiST program (Alliance to Strengthen the STEM Tapestry), where they participated in drama activities, story-telling, and ecological restoration projects. Over 90% of program participants were from populations traditionally underrepresented in STEM. Program funding has stabilized for the coming years; in November 2018, the REFUGES afterschool program received a 5-year 21st Century Community Learning Center grant from the Utah State Board of Education.

Coordinated the 2018 University of Utah Science and Engineering Fair (USEF) for students in grades 5-12. In 2017-2018, the annual Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair officially changed its name to the University of Utah Science and Engineering Fair (USEF) to reflect the institutional support it receives from the UofU. The 2018 USEF took place March 2018 at Rice Eccles stadium. The fair included 708 students from six school districts, plus charter, private and home school students. USEF engages on- and off-campus science stakeholders as mentors and judges; of the 187 judge volunteers, just under half were affiliated with the University of Utah. There were six high school students who advanced to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in May 2018; three of the students received top awards. USEF is partially funded by community and industry sponsors; the 2018 Fair was supported by over $13,500 in sponsorships. USEF continues to seek ways to broaden participation. In 2017-2018, USEF received a grant from the STEM Action Center to provide funding to high school students who request assistance with project costs; 15 students applied for and received funding for their projects.

Supporting Activities

CSME staff connect with the community in a variety of ways and serve in on- and off campus working groups and committees such as the University Internship Council, University Interdisciplinary Teaching Programs Committee, Sustainability Education Advisory Committee, General Education Curriculum Committee, among others. When requested, CSME continues to support faculty with developing “Broader Impacts” sections of grant proposals.

CSME staff attended and/or presented at over 20 conferences during the reporting period.