Transforming STEM education using a multipronged systems approach and High Impact Practices (HIPs)

Thursday 8:00am - 9:30am Woodlawn I
Thematic Symposium

Allison D'Costa, Georgia Gwinnett College
Cindy Achat-Mendes, Georgia Gwinnett College
Judy Awong-Taylor, Georgia Gwinnett College
Tirza Leader, Georgia Gwinnett College
Clay Runck, Georgia Gwinnett College
Chantelle Anfuso, Georgia Gwinnett College
David Pursell, Georgia Gwinnett College
Thomas Mundie, Georgia Gwinnett College
Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) is an open access institution that attracts a highly diverse population of students, including many from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM education. To address the needs of our student population, we developed a comprehensive systems approach model that aims to transform STEM learning and student engagement by incorporating high-impact practices (HIPs), including Course-embedded Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs), faculty learning communities, and first-year experiences. Our systems approach includes three interconnected levels: (1) a macro level that focuses on the Institution's objective to increase enrollment, persistence, and retention rates of under-represented, under-prepared students in STEM fields; (2) a meso level that addresses curriculum reform to provide a rigorous research-based curricula that focuses on scaffolding and building STEM skills by exposing students to multiple research and creative experiences during all four years of matriculation (via CUREs); and (3) a micro level focused on faculty development (through learning communities) and student engagement and learning (via first-year experiences – i.e. Peer Supplemental Instruction, PSI). Each level requires important resources for institutional reform to occur. Additionally, continuous interactions occur between the levels, including ongoing formative assessments that drive institutional change. Although our project utilizes the extensive research base of 'best' practices, our application of these practices is innovative due to the effort to promote systemic change at an institutional level. Preliminary assessment indicates that our model improves teaching and student engagement, as evidenced by: (1) improved student GPA; (2) increased STEM retention and progression rates, especially for minority and under-represented groups; and (3) improved student attitudes about STEM. We are currently conducting a rigorous longitudinal research study on the efficacy of this systems approach model. Our session will discuss the impact of the above HIPs on various levels of the system approach model, as well as the successes and challenges we have encountered.


Our session will be an interactive 90-minute workshop that will engage the audience in reflection and discussion. We will begin with a think-pair-share activity. Attendees will be tasked to list challenges they have at their individual institutions related to retention and progression of students in STEM (think), followed by discussion of identified challenges amongst their group/table (pair). Groups/tables will then report-out on the challenges they identified to the entire audience (share). Groups/tables will then be assigned to one of three categories – curriculum, faculty, or students – and tasked to discuss how their challenges can be addressed. Next, a presentation format will be used describe to challenges at GGC, and how they are being addressed at the curriculum, faculty, and student levels by incorporating HIPs in our systems approach model. This will be followed by a question-answer session related to our presentation. The final activity will involve asking attendees to reflect on applying HIPs and new insights gained from our presentation, to address the challenges they identified at their institutions at the beginning of the session.