Featured Case Studies at the 2017 SMTI/ASCN Workshop on Diversity and Inclusion

Inese Berzina-Pitcher
Western Michigan University
Inese Berzina-Pitcher
published Apr 17, 2017

Creating an Institutional Culture of Accountability to Ensure Diversity and Inclusion in STEM Fields

Dr. Christine A. Stanley, Vice President and Associate Provost; Professor, Higher Education Administration, Texas A&M University will be the opening speaker on TAMU's Diversity Plan. TAMU's Diversity Plan, which was developed in 2010 and is executed by the Office for Diversity, established the expectation that all academic and administrative units submit annual reports to monitor and evaluate progress toward accountability, climate, and equity efforts. The President, Provost and the Vice President for Diversity read the reports, and with the guidance of the President's Council on Climate and Diversity, provide feedback to unit leaders (President, Provost, Deans, and Vice presidents). The Office for Diversity rewards units who demonstrate progress in these three areas.

Examples of STEM units that are working to create cultural change include the colleges of engineering, science and veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences. Programs and initiatives such as: ADVANCE, AGGIE Science Graduate Discovery, Biomedical Research Immersion and Diversity for Graduate Education (BRIDGE), Conflict Management and Mediation Training, Cultural Competency in the Curriculum, ENGAGE, Energy & Sustainability Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), and Science Leadership Scholars, are enabling to create a culture in which there is shared ownership and accountability to make Texas A&M University a welcoming and thriving place for all and for Texas A&M to become a national leader in diversity.

PERSIST - Promoting Educational Reform through Strategic Investments in Systemic Transformation

Boise State University's Promoting Educational Reform through Strategic Investments in Systemic Transformation (PERSIST) project is focused on fundamentally changing how STEM courses are taught by applying a change model (Dormant's CACAO Model) to propagate the use of evidence-based instructional practices (EBIP) among STEM faculty, departments, and curricula at Boise State while assessing the impact of increased use of EBIP on student learning and retention. The project uses a range of strategies to reach across college and departmental boundaries to provide leadership for shifting teaching norms to support the exploration and implementation of EBIPs. This includes Faculty Advocates for STEM Transformation (FAST) Team members who are department liaisons and promote dialogue around teaching and learning within their department, Partner Projects where individuals or groups of faculty are empowered to redesign courses to include EBIPs, Communities of Practice to support ongoing use of particular pedagogies, and much more. Project assessment and evaluation activities are measuring institutional changes, supporting pedagogical reform, and driving continuous improvements in teaching. The ultimate impact of the project will be 1) increases in STEM majors and bachelor's degrees, especially among women and other underrepresented groups in STEM, 2) persistence in STEM disciplines, and 3) a university culture that sustains long-term efforts of continuous improvement in STEM pedagogy. Boise State's PERSIST is providing a testing ground for how to drive institutional change in teaching practices.

A collaborative partnership built on common goals - successful recruitment, retention, progression and graduation of diverse first-time-in-college (FTIC) and transfer students who are prepared for life, citizenship, and careers in STEM

The University of South Florida (USF), a large public "Research I" university, in collaboration with Hillsborough Community College (HCC), a large Hispanic serving Community College, has embarked on an ambitious project to transform the culture of teaching in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) departments (Systemic Transformation of Education Through Evidence-Based Reforms, STEER).This partnership aims to establish a thriving and inclusive community of practice, which develops and supports a student-focused teaching culture among their STEM departments. The project is led by a knowledgeable, diverse, and influential leadership team bridging both institutions. Together the team has developed a multipronged approach to developing an environment that promotes high quality STEM teaching at USF and HCC. The team has leveraged grant resources to institute systemic change by addressing three key components: faculty, students, and the institutional environment in which they interact. This project utilizes multiple, simultaneous initiatives to approach each of these components and develop a culture of student-centered, evidence-based teaching.

Strategies for Recruiting and Engaging Students with Disabilities in Research Experience for Undergraduates

The Center for Emergent Materials (CEM), a National Science Foundation (NSF) Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at The Ohio State University (OSU) works to recruit students with disabilities for engaging Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) through the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) EntryPoint! program and the Ohio STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Ability Alliance (OSAA). The NSF REU seeks to increase students' competitiveness for the next steps in their career through participation in the research program. The program offers training for faculty and mentors, asks faculty to commit to providing a supportive atmosphere for students, and seeks out encouraging graduate students to serve as mentors. Support is available for both the faculty and the student in the lab, and, when necessary, includes the office of disability services to provide accommodations or other needs. Faculty mentoring and appropriate accommodations enable students with disabilities to succeed in science and engineering laboratories.

Cross Institutional Synergy for Women Scientists

The University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast ADVANCE partnership was forged to (1) Highlight, promote, and encourage the scientific research and accomplishments of 145 STEM women faculty members across four institutions. (2) Curb the isolation women experience in their work by gathering a critical mass of STEM women in the region to serve as a professional support and collaborative network. And (3) Begin conversations to transform the cultural and institutional landscapes so that work-life integration issues for women and families are addressed to shape a healthier, more productive environment for all scientists. Gulf Coast ADVANCE is in its a fourth year and continues its activities, mentoring, brown bag lunches around issues for women in STEM, and policy discussions. Some of leadership team members are in the process of developing the next ADVANCE proposal that would support the same partners, but expand reach and focus specifically on policy work and professional support for leadership around faculty recruitment, tenure review, and retention.

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