Undergraduate Science Education Grants to Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (2012)

University of Minnesota-Morris

Overarching Objective and Primary Theme: Persistence of All Students

Strategies to accomplish the objective: University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM) aims to strengthen the preparation of undergraduate students for future careers in science by targeting five strategic initiatives with a focus on patterns of evolutionary, ecological, geological, and climatological change in the region. Together the initiatives draw students deeper into the field of science, build their scientific confidence and understanding, and increase the numbers of credible candidates for postgraduate study:

1. "Changes in Nature" in-service workshop for K-12 teachers. This summer workshop will be developed in Year 2 and implemented in Years 3 and 4. This program will assist K-12 teachers in development of information and lesson plans to address important issues in science that are often avoided or poorly represented in classrooms.

2. "Bridge to College" for first-year students in science. This program will start with a short-course program prior to fall semester, during which incoming students will participate in field work at a research station and interact with faculty and upper-level students. The goal is to infuse students with an understanding that research is an essential element of a science education, as well to model faculty-student interactions and establish expectations. A new addition to the program will build on interaction throughout the first two years of the biology program by having the same upper-level students work as peer tutors in selected biology courses. In subsequent years, bridge participants will become program tutors.

3. The Undergraduate Summer Research Program will put students to work doing science in the field and lab. It will have the most impact on research-oriented students and will prepare students for graduate work. Students will have the option of completing their summer research program off-campus.

4. Café Scientifique is a program to provide regular engagement with the community by having students promote and discuss their work to the diverse populations in our area. The program aims to train students in outreach, teach them that outreach is an important part of the job of a public intellectual, and strengthen ties with the community by openly sharing their work. This program will have nine sessions throughout the year, scaling back from the original proposal.

5. Careers in Science seminar series and resource room. Invited alumni will visit campus each year to talk about diverse careers in science and network with students. The resource room will include tools for students to explore on- and off-campus opportunities during their time at UMM (e.g., summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REU) programs, internships), and to explore science careers.

Expected broad impacts: strengthen UMM's preparation of undergraduates for careers in science by targeting strategic points along the graduate school pipeline; increase the number of undergraduates (including Native American undergraduates) continuing their education into graduate programs; and develop and improve on effective mentoring strategies.

Expected and measurable outcomes: enhanced knowledge regarding graduate and professional school in the sciences; continuation in graduate science degree programs; and earned science graduate degrees.

Strategies to assess the outcomes and impacts: In collaboration with an outside evaluator, UMM will work on the development of methods and tools for evaluating this program; some tools may include questionnaires, focus groups, interviews, and peer reviews. Through formative and summative evaluations, expected outcomes will include information on which experiences were valuable or not valuable for the students both short and long term, and gauge students' perspectives. We will continue to track these students after they graduate from UMM to see how they continue to be involved in science after their baccalaureate education.

For More Information

Paul Myers, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota-Morris
600 East 4th Street
Morris, MN 56267-2132


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