2016 STEM Institute

Increasing the Pool of STEM Talent

Friday, February 26th, 2015

This year's UGA STEM Institute on Teaching and Learning was hosted Friday, February 26th at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. Registration for this year approached 200, by far our largest conference to date! Along with high attendance from UGA faculty and graduate students, we were joined by representatives from post-secondary institutions across the state, and several from outside Georgia. Also represented at this year's event were K12 educators from several Georgia counties, accounting for nearly 20 percent of this year's group.

A new addition to this year's Institute were poster sessions presented by graduate students from UGA and Georgia State University. Attendees were able to learn about these students' current research during two sessions throughout the day, between plenary speakers and concurrent presentations.

(Scroll down to find links to presentation files. Click HERE for photos.)


The following plenary presentations provided a captivating start to the day.

The Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning: The Preparation of the Future STEM Faculty 

Dr. Robert Mathieu, Professor of Astronomy, University of Wisconsin - Madison and Director, Center for The Integration of Teaching and Learning (CIRTL)

Graduate students and post-doctoral fellows at research universities shape the future of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) undergraduate education in the United States. These future faculty flow into the STEM faculties of several thousand research universities, comprehensive universities, liberal arts colleges, and community and tribal colleges. The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) uses graduate education and post-doctoral preparation as the leverage point to develop STEM faculty with the capability and commitment to implement and improve effective teaching and learning practices. CIRTL has developed, implemented, and evaluated successful strategies based on three core ideas - teaching-as-research, learning communities, and learning-through-diversity. A decade of research and evaluation demonstrates that STEM future faculty in CIRTL learning communities understand, use, and advance high-impact teaching practices. Today the CIRTL Network includes 46 research universities, including Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Georgia.

Ultimately, the goal of CIRTL is a national STEM faculty who enable all students to learn effectively and thereby achieve STEM literacy, whose teaching enhances recruitment into STEM careers, and whose leadership ensures the continued advancement of STEM education.

See the presentation HERE.

How Can We Support Teachers in Engaging Students in Authentic Scientific Practices, Critical Thinking and Use of Logic and Evidence?

Dr. Barbara Crawford, Professor and Head, Department of Mathematics and Science Education, UGA

In the U.S. there is evidence we are losing students from entering the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) pipeline; in particular, those students from generally underrepresented populations in science. Lack of motivation in science may deter students from taking additional science courses in high school, thus preventing students from gaining necessary background knowledge to pursue STEM careers. The classroom teacher is the agent of change for reform-based science teaching. I will describe a collaborative professional development model for supporting teachers in providing opportunities for all students in mainstream science classrooms to actually experience science and scientific thinking.

Presentation File Coming Soon


The following presentations occurred during the morning breakout session:

Panel Presentation - Experiential Learning: What It Is and How To Do It    

Dr. Linda Bachman, Director of University Experiential Learning, UGA
Dr. Kristin Miller, Academic Professional Associate, Division of Biological Sciences, UGA
Dr. John Mativo, Associate Professor, Department of Career and Information Studies, UGA

Experiential Learning has become a high-profile initiative at the University of Georgia, with a new Experiential Learning requirement for all undergraduates that will become effective for students starting at UGA in Fall, 2016.  Research shows that engaging students in hands-on learning experiences contributes to greater understanding of concepts being taught and can provide greater preparation for employment after graduation.  These active learning experiences can occur within courses, span entire courses and programs, or extend into co-curricular and leadership experiences beyond the classroom.  This panel will address how UGA is implementing the Experiential Learning requirement and will provide insights into the ways two faculty members are incorporating these types of experiences in their courses.  Come with your questions and with your personal experiences.

See Dr. Miller's presentation HERE.

See Dr. Mativo's presentation HERE.

Virtual Experiential Learning in STEM Education

Dr. Kyle Johnsen, Associate Professor, College of Engineering, UGA
Mr. Elliott Tanner , Graduate Student, College of Engineering, UGA

Virtual environments are an affordable, flexible, and scalable technology for experiential learning.  We report on our virtual experiential learning application for teaching and learning engineering fluid statics concepts.  Additionally, we report results from studies conducted with the technology comparing interface alternatives and instructional methods.  Results indicate high student satisfaction with the approach, and we suggest guidelines for similar implementations in the future.

Presentation File Coming Soon

Building and Sustaining a Four-Year Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Experience

Dr. Judy Awong-Taylor, Professor, School of Science and Technology, Georgia Gwinnett College 
Dr. Thomas Mundie, Dean, School of Science and Technology, Georgia Gwinnett College

The positive impact of undergraduate research on students’ success in college is well documented. Georgia Gwinnett College developed a Four-year Undergraduate Research and Creative Experience (4YrURCE) based upon a novel discipline-specific course-embedded research model which scaffolds multiple research and creative experiences for all STEM majors during all four years of matriculation. Each Course-embedded Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) provides a scaffolding of research skills, creative abilities, and core content knowledge (STEM competencies). As students progress through multiple CUREs, they gain the ability, confidence, and skills to conduct independent research and to enter the STEM workforce.

See the presentation HERE.


The following plenary presentation started the afternoon after the lunch break:

Enhancing and Diversifying Geosciences Instruction through Popular Gaming Platforms and Multi-User Virtual Environments

Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Geographyand Director for Program in Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Geography, UGA

Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVES) are increasingly being explored as educational platforms. Minecraft is a popular MUVE that incorporates many concepts from Geosciences fields. Our primary research goals address the following questions: (1) Can Minecraft serve as a platform for exposing Geosciences principles to students?  (2) Does Minecraft generate interest in STEM among under-represented groups? If so, how does Minecraft cultivate an interest in STEM (e.g., portrayals, identity building, problem solving)? If not, why? Our methodology is designed using a multi-tier approach based on evaluation of new Minecraft-based instructional strategies, hands-on learning, and real-world problems.

See the presentation HERE.


The following presentations occurred during the afternoon breakout session:

Panel Presentation - Learning Communities: Structuring for Success    

Dr. Tim Burg, Professor, Veterinary and Biosciences and Diagnostic Imaging and Director, Office of STEM Education, UGA
Dr. Peggy Brickman, Professor, Department of Plant Biology, Division of Biological Sciences, UGA
Dr. Christine Franklin, Lecturer, Department of Statistics, UGA
Ms. Kaycie Maddox, Director of 9-12 Mathematics, Northeast Georgia Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA)

It is widely acknowledged that Learning Communities offer many benefits to those who find time to come together to share common experiences, learn from one another and generate new ideas and/or activities.   For those who have never been a part of a learning community and/or for those with an interest in seeking similar minded colleagues, getting started and sustaining momentum are challenges.  How do learning communities happen, who starts a community, how does one find a community with common interests and goals, and once one has found and joined such a group, how does one prioritize participation and how long will the group remain functional?  This session will speak to these questions and more with representatives who have experience with successful learning communities.

See Dr. Brickman's presentation HERE.

See Ms. Maddox's presentation HERE.

Math, The Language of Critical Thinking

Dr. Jose Reyes de Corcuera, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator, Department of Food Science and Technology, College of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesUGA

Today Food Science graduates from any university in the U.S., have a better understanding of chemistry, and microbiology than the best scientists of two centuries ago. However, the same cannot be said with regards to mathematics. With an educational budget of 120 credits, about half of it in non-quantitative disciplines and most of the rest dictated by professional societies, we have few resources left to fill some gaps in mathematics. We hypothesize that enhancing math skills in our program will lead to enhanced critical thinking skills regardless of the nature of the questions addressed.

See the presentation HERE.

Seeing is Believing: Video Resources for Active-Learning Instruction

Dr. Tessa Andrews, Assistant Professor, Department of Genetics, Division of Biological Sciences, UGA

College teaching can be an isolating endeavor. In studying college biology instructors, I have learned that faculty expect to benefit from seeing other instructors teach, yet they rarely have the opportunity to do so. The objective of this project is to produce short videos as resources for college instructors, especially instructors of large courses and instructors who are interested in incorporating evidence-based teaching strategies, such as small group work and other types of active-learning instruction. Ultimately these videos will be freely available to any interested instructor at UGA and beyond.


The following represents the final plenary session of this year's STEM Institute:

Growing the Next Generation of STEM Talent - Perspectives from NSF

Dr. Susan Rundell Singer, Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation (NSF) and Laurence McKinley Gould Professor in the Biology and Cognitive Science Departments, Carleton College

The National Science Foundation is a place where discovery and discoverers begin. As the only federal agency with a dual mission of research and education, we support high quality STEM learning for learners of all ages in formal and informal environments.  Preparing a STEM savvy public and a high quality STEM workforce are priorities. NSF plays a leadership role in the implementation of the Federal 5-Year STEM Education Strategic Plan, which includes an emphasis on growing the STEM workforce at the 2- and 4-year degree levels. The recent release of the 2016 Science and Engineering Indicators reveals an 11% increase in the number of STEM baccalaureate degrees over a 2-year period, as well as a 29% increase in associate degrees in engineering. At the undergraduate level, NSF is developing the middle skills advanced technological workforce, future science and math teachers, and the broader STEM workforce through engaged student learning, institutional transformation, and scholarship programs that include support for guided pathways to success.

See the presentation HERE.

Handouts provided by Dr. Singer are available in the Office of STEM Education (557 Chemistry) for those who are interested.