New Grant Promotes Undergraduate STEM Education

Feb 22, 2017

Credit University of Liverpool Faculty of Health & Life Sciences/Flickr

The American Association of Universities (AAU) awarded a small grant to an interdisciplinary faculty team at the University of Missouri to develop undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.

The grant proposal was written by Johannes Schul and Sarah Bush, both from the Division of Biological Sciences. They are a part of a team of nine faculty from eight different departments.

The $20,000 grant over the next two years will help the team redesign STEM curriculum and train faculty.

The AAU awards small grants like this to encourage systemic change at universities and develop new ways to foster students’ interest in STEM fields.

“I think the main challenge for many faculty, or probably all faculty, is that we are not trained as educators,” said Schul.

He said most faculty are trained to be researchers, but do not know as much about educational pedagogy.

Bush said she is hopeful that the reform will help to retain STEM majors at the university.

“This is certainly an issue nationwide, where many students enter college intending to major in a STEM discipline, but after their first year transfer out of the major,” said Bush. “This is particularly of concern for students from underrepresented groups who have a higher rate of transitioning out of STEM courses after their freshman year.”

Along with increasing retention, Schul said he wants to grow a community of STEM educators on campus to help develop new educational models and improve classroom experiences for all students.

Mizzou is one of 12 campuses chosen for this grant. The 12 schools include Cornell University, Iowa State and University of Kansas, among others.