Transforming STEM gateway courses: or How we learned to stop worrying about just one approach and love the different pathways

Thursday 3:30pm - 4:00pm Fountainview
Oral Presentation

Shanna Shaked, University of California-Los Angeles
One of the main goals of UCLA's Center for Education Innovation and Learning in the Sciences is to broaden student success in STEM. Working with institutional research folks, we identified the persistence rates in science and math majors; more than half of students from underrepresented groups (URGs), who declared a science or math major, did not end up completing a degree in science or math. Only one quarter of students from URGs who declare a physical sciences major end up completing such a major. Data revealed that this was less due to advising and course navigation, and much more due to experiences in the STEM gateway courses.

We were able to leverage an array of of grants, departmental leaders, educational interventions, and assessment data over the past five years to now have all of UCLA's STEM gateway series undergoing some form of transformation. Although some more resistant faculty remain, more than half of all STEM gateway course sections now have at least some level of transformation to evidence-based teaching practices.

Each course series had a different pathway to transformation, with different barriers and opportunities, so we analyze here the various common elements and ultimately create a flow chart depicting when and how each intervention was most effective. We also describe the extent to which these interventions aligned with the eight change strategies (Borrego & Henderson. J. Eng. Educ. 103, 2014) based on the four quadrants of change (Henderson, Beach & Finkelstein. J. Res. Sci. Teach. 48, 2011), and (2) the STEM persistence framework (Graham et al. Science 341, 2013).

The common elements across almost all transformations were as follows: a strong dean; persistence data; supportive department leaders; incentive to improve coordination of the the series; "embedded agents" of pedagogy experts in the department; and a goal of assessing transformation.
The various successful interventions (almost none of which were present in every transformation) were postdoctoral teacher-scholars, co-teaching models, a course revision committee, faculty learning communities, multi-day workshops of professional development, and undergraduate learning assistants.