Inclusive Excellence 2018 Program Abstracts

Arizona State University

Program Director: James Collins

Arizona State University (ASU) opened its doors to diverse and underserved student populations by increasing the size and flexibility of curricular options, including through online courses and degree programs. Over the past five years, ASU launched more than 50 fully online undergraduate degrees enrolling some 21,000 students. Despite ASU’s growth and success in broadening access, we must improve elements of instruction, particularly for online courses. We will address this challenge by training a cadre of highly motivated faculty members to combine the latest educational technologies and insights from education research to promote inclusive excellence. This community will create modular, interactive online learning experiences to serve multiple curricular and developmental goals for first-year students.

Aspirations and Goals

In five years, a library of 20 Exploration Experiences will reach ~1,700 students per year within STEM-focused ASU 101 sections in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. ASU 101 is taken by all of ASU’s first-year students. A cadre of 20 STEM faculty members will know how to advance inclusive excellence online. We aspire to see this model adopted by all ASU 101 sections.

Our goal is to produce enduring changes in ASU’s capacity for inclusion by:

  • initiating a systemic effort to change faculty culture relative to inclusive teaching;
  • engaging ~20 faculty members to create evidence-based pedagogical innovations;
  • creating a cohesive pathway for faculty members to transform their teaching methods and attitudes such that inclusive excellence is central to ASU’s culture;
  • challenging faculty members to adopt assessment endpoints other than retention or graduation—such as higher order thinking skills, adaptability, and inclusiveness.

Theory of Change (ToC)

Our initial step is a survey of student and faculty backgrounds to identify key points where interventions are most likely to improve each first-year student’s sense of inclusion in ASU’s community. These data will guide next steps including creation of Exploration Experiences, faculty development workshops, and assessment of faculty members and students. Inclusion begins by meeting students where they are and we will start our evolving ToC by gaining a better understanding of where they are.

Progress and Institutional Learning

We will measure the impact on faculty members using pre-post experience surveys and post experience semi-structured interviews that probe their perceptions of inclusive teaching practices, online education, and use of technology to create adaptive, personalized learning. We will also probe affordances and barriers encountered. Pre- and post-surveys will assess each student’s sense of belonging, science identity, and self-efficacy. Changing faculty culture is hard at a university as large as ASU. The history of top-down approaches is spotty so, perhaps paradoxically, we will use a bottom-up approach in which faculty members, Exploration Experiences, and lessons learned become exemplars for inclusive excellence mediated by technology. Faculty members involved will want to apply these approaches in their other online offerings, while at the same time these faculty leaders will be championed by senior administrators to become role models for others. In this way lessons learned will disseminate across ASU.

Bates College

Program Director: Paula Schlax

Founded in 1855, Bates College was a century ahead of most colleges and universities in building a student body based on the principle that education should be available to students of all races, national origins, religions, and genders. One hundred and sixty-three years later, we remain deeply committed to these values and aspire to offer programs in STEM that will allow all students to thrive at Bates and in scientific careers. Over the past decade, we have implemented a variety of strategies to support an increasingly diverse student body, yet these efforts have only been partially successful in STEM fields. We are determined to change these outcomes through a fundamental transformation in our culture of teaching and learning in STEM.

This grant will catalyze our efforts to develop faculty capacity and institute curricular changes that will remove barriers to success. We will transform faculty behavior and attitudes in order to foster positive connections directly with students and develop readiness for broad-ranging curricular reform. The proposed curricular changes are aimed at early experiences and sustained peer support, in response to our own data and national trends, which indicate that the majority of URM students leaving the sciences do so within the first year.

Program

Specifically, we propose three interrelated strategies:

  1. Develop faculty capacity on a broad scale to understand the diverse strengths of our students, recognize and mitigate barriers to student success in our actions and in our curriculum, and develop high impact approaches to teaching and mentoring URM students. This work will involve faculty development activities, guided by assessment of faculty attitudes and practices, with a goal of building internal expertise within our faculty ranks.
  2. Introduce authentic research courses for first year students to engage with faculty in the scientific process early in their college experience. These courses will be designed to ensure successful research experiences, with concomitant increases in science efficacy, science identity, and belonging. Small courses also maximize opportunities for developing relationships with faculty and fellow students. First year research courses will be designed in collaboration with students and serve as catalysts for larger curricular reform.
  3. Transform our Science Fellows program from a one- to a four-year course-based mentoring program for Bates students so that they are engaged over the course of their college experience, while gaining a sense of belonging, leadership skills, and science efficacy, while receiving academic and career training. Our expansion will bolster both faculty mentoring and peer mentoring of our students and focus on their professional and personal development as scientists. We expect that our science fellows will participate in curricular reform.

Progress and Learning

Our progress towards inclusive excellence will be assessed through faculty and student attitude surveys and interviews. Using assessment tools that focus on scientific content and process and psycho-social characteristics (self-efficacy, confidence, and scientific identity) we will determine the strengths and weaknesses of our approaches. Regular assessment will guide the development of a sustainable practice of revisions and expansion of activities that support inclusive excellence.

Brandeis University

Program Director: Irving Epstein

Brandeis University recognizes that many students enter college with a strong interest in STEM, but decide not to continue because of academic and other barriers. Rather than focusing our efforts on serving a single population (students of color, first-generation college students, low-income students), our Inclusive Excellence grant seeks to transform the STEM classroom experience for all students, regardless of background. We propose a set of four initiatives designed to enhance retention and success of students in STEM. These programs will address practices and attitudes we have identified in both faculty and students that tend to discourage students from STEM majors. We will encourage the incorporation of the student voice into all of these initiatives to bring about systemic change. Within five years, we hope, as a result of the more inclusive culture we seek to create, to see increased retention and achievement (majors, GPA, involvement in research) in STEM among all students. In short, we hope to change the current sink-or-swim mentality that affects many of our faculty and students to one that recognizes that all students can reach their academic and professional goals.

The first initiative is the Galaxy Program, a cohort-based mentoring program meant to enhance the first-year experience for STEM students. The Galaxy Program has been successfully piloted at Brandeis for the last three years, serving students identified as historically facing academic challenges in STEM. We plan to expand enrollment from 40 students in year 1 to 120 students by year 5 and to open the experience to any first-year science student regardless of background.

A Faculty Learning Community, initially comprised of faculty members who teach the large introductory first and second year science courses, will grapple with literature on inclusive practices. Discussions will include how to best structure classroom lectures, office hours, and other instructional elements to be student-ready for all learners. Faculty will also engage in peer observation to better understand their unconscious biases as they appear in the classroom, learning how to be critical friends in their instructional practices.

A new series of workshops for all introductory science students is aimed at improving the student culture with regard to studying science. Too often, students feel marginalized not only by their faculty but by their peers, and these student-to-student judgments can create a hostile learning environment. Workshops will focus on topics including fixed versus growth mindset, grit as defined by cooperation and appreciation, and the creation of positive self-defined classroom norms. Workshops will initially be facilitated by the grant leadership team.

The fourth initiative is the creation of Science Practicums, twenty-person experiential-based science courses that will be available to undergraduates during their first two years of study. These courses will offer small community environments and engage students in high impact practices with a STEM faculty member.

Formative and summative assessment are critical aspects of this work. Quantitative and qualitative data collected from all stakeholders will be used to assess each of the core activities as well as the overall success of the program.

California State University-Los Angeles

Program Director: Andre Ellis

The change that forms the framework of this project is one where transformed faculty pedagogy, implemented via faculty training and space to reflect on teaching practices (broadly defined), results in transformed learning for students, thereby achieving inclusive excellence. The slogan “Transformed Learners Transform Learners” captures this vision. We acknowledge that teaching faculty are also learners who need to reflect on their pedagogy and use evidence-based best practices to enable all students to realize their full potential. We envision that in five years we will have a community of transformed faculty and students in the sciences who work collaboratively to achieve academic excellence. Cal State LA is already nationally recognized as the #1 institution for the upward mobility of its students. Yet there remains an achievement gap at many levels of achievement, represented partly in demographics: Hispanic and African-American students’ achievement, on average, is significantly lower than that of students of other ethno-cultural identities. Therefore, our overarching goal is to eliminate this achievement gap through transformed pedagogy that reaches all students, particularly Hispanic and African American students.

We propose a multi-faceted implementation plan to transform pedagogy in the sciences by:

  1. Instituting an equity-focused professional development program for faculty in collaboration with the Center for Urban Education (CUE) at the University of Southern California. The inquiry-based workshops in this program will a) identify educational inequities experienced by historically underrepresented student groups, b) use CUE’s inquiry strategies and tools to examine critically the ways in which faculty mindsets and educational practices contribute to those inequities, and c) transform those mindsets and practices. We anticipate that these and other high impact practices will lower the achievement gap.
  2. Increasing student engagement and fostering the development of students’ college identity by a) building a community of practice and b) promoting and incentivizing science engagement via a program and web portal/App we call “Science Campus Activities for Fostering Engagement” (Sci-CAFÉ).
  3. Ensuring sustainable institutional development by working with the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion to incorporate equity-based programing across all administrative units at Cal State LA.

The strategy includes a “train-the-trainer" model to bring together more than 74 faculty and chairs with the leadership and capacity to change pedagogy, curriculum, and programs, and influence academic policy. This faculty training program in inclusive excellence will be institutionalized by the University’s Center for Effective Teaching and Learning. We anticipate that the College and University will sustain the changes by incentivizing all tenure-line and part-time faculty to attend these training programs and inform/transform their pedagogy at the outset. To measure and monitor the changes in Cal State LA’s capacity for inclusive excellence, we plan to use and develop qualitative and quantitative assessment tools to identify what is most effective for our students. We will use institutional research data to monitor our primary target, student achievement gaps; as well as graduation rates, persistence rates, and student engagement.

California State University-San Marcos

Program Director: George Vourlitis

Our recent self-study indicated that rates of graduation and retention of first-time freshmen (FTF) STEM students were disproportionally lower than those for transfer students, especially for underrepresented students such as minority and first-generation students. A previously conducted University-wide survey indicated that many students leave STEM because they feel “disconnected” from their major and/or the student community. Thus, our overall goal is to identify and remove barriers to success for FTF-STEM students and to increase rates of retention for this student population.

We feel that this opportunity gap can be reduced by transforming the early educational experience for FTF from a passive and disconnected learning environment to an active, student-centered environment where students feel welcome and connected both inside and outside the classroom. One critical pre-condition to achieving our goal is to understand specifically why FTF leave our STEM programs, so we first need to assess student perceptions of our institutional and classroom learning environment. We will also conduct a similar analysis of how faculty perceive our institutional and classroom learning environment to assess the potential for student and faculty mismatch. These surveys, in conjunction with other data (retention, time to graduation), will provide the pre-conditions required for developing other approaches that, based on scholarship and previous experience on our campus, show promise for engendering a feeling of student connectedness and increasing student success. For example, our project plans to develop faculty learning communities (FLCs) to train faculty in research-based instructional strategies and cultural sensitivity, which will provide faculty with the information required for transforming the classroom environment to an active, student-centered learning environment where all students feel welcome. This training will provide the pre- condition required for redesigning the introductory Biology and Chemistry courses so that they are active, student-centered, and supportive rather than designed to “weed out” FTF-STEM students. Another key activity of our project is the development of a robust peer-tutor and learning assistant program to help FTF feel more welcome in their STEM major, provide academic support, and assist FLC graduates in their course redesign. Peer-to-peer support will also be linked with a new, intrusive academic and career advising component designed to help FTF navigate the first year of their STEM major and to identify career opportunities once they graduate. Together, these initiatives are designed to help students feel empowered, engaged, and nurtured in their critical first year as a STEM major.

We plan to assess the effectiveness of these initiatives for increasing institutional inclusiveness by annually assessing changes in student perceptions of our institutional and classroom learning environment and how their perceptions change according to our current baseline. We will conduct similar analyses of faculty to assess whether faculty perceptions change as well. These qualitative data will be used in conjunction with quantitative data on student retention rates to assess the efficacy of our project initiatives for achieving inclusive excellence within the CSUSM College of Science and Mathematics.

Davidson College

Program Director: Barbara Lom

Fostering Inclusivity and Respect in Science Together (FIRST) at Davidson College builds on strong undergraduate STEM programs, thoroughly committed leadership, dedicated faculty and staff, and a climate keenly tuned to enhancing diversity, inclusivity, and equity in all dimensions. Over the the coming five years FIRST will work to expand faculty understandings of inclusivity (Aim #1) and reduce institutional barriers to success in STEM (Aim #2). We recognize that widespread engagement and actions at multiple levels are necessary as well as that effective change will likely be challenging and diverse in its implementation on our campus. Ultimately we aspire to eliminate grade differentials, increase representation in STEM graduates, diversify our STEM faculty, and learn from institutions with similar aspirations to foster student success.

Aim #1. Expand and transform STEM faculty understanding of critical factors that foster STEM success for all students. We learned that lack of time, lack of support, limited insight into student experiences, and fear of failure are key barriers to our STEM faculty members adopting more inclusive pedagogies and stances. Thus, FIRST RATE (Resources and Time for Exploration) will provide release time for all of our permanent STEM faculty members to reflect, learn, implement, and assess evidence-based strategies within their existing STEM courses. Simultaneously, FIRST will enable learning communities and workshops to support faculty and staff members engaged in the important, ongoing, and multifaceted work of improving relationships, assessing teaching strategies, revising courses, and reimagining curricula to become more inclusive and foster student success. Specifically, FIRST will redesign introductory physics as well as catalyze new STEM Justice, Equality, Community (JEC) courses and Group Investigation (GI) research experiences. Moreover, FIRST’s STEM Education Fellow will support assessment, collaboration, and creating new pathways to student experiences that our faculty eagerly seek to understand. Progress will be assessed quantitatively and qualitatively through continued self-study, participation metrics, climate surveys, annual faculty activity reports, and student feedback.

Aim #2. Reduce institutional barriers to STEM success by concretely addressing campus policies, practices, and structures that limit inclusivity. FIRST will target five specific functional barriers that influence new majority success in STEM (e.g., course credit, pass/fail, tenure expectations, etc.) through resourced Action Teams of students, faculty, and staff. Our ability to reduce institutional barriers will be measured qualitatively and quantitatively by the number, degree, and types of policies and procedures revised to enhance inclusivity, as well as by synergy with emerging academic strategic planning priorities, new majority STEM majors, grades/GPAs, and student feedback on navigating STEM courses, major decisions, and student stress. Our ultimate aspiration is to identify and remove institutional structures, policies, and practices that hinder inclusion and success yet are beyond the reach of any individual instructor or department.

FIRST’s strategy to foster reflection, feedback, and continual enhancement of inclusive practices at all levels will help these actions to become customary within our culture. Ultimately, Davidson College seeks to become an environment wherein all students can succeed in STEM—and inclusive excellence is a shared responsibility and lived reality rather than an aspiration.

DePauw University

Program Director: Jacqueline Roberts

At historically white institutions like DePauw University, faculty and staff must acknowledge the role they play in perpetuating educational disparities among student populations, and must work to transform the educational environment so that it is welcoming for all students. Our goals are ambitious and, if accomplished, will produce true institutional change, evident in:

  1. all STEM faculty teaching with inclusive pedagogies and creating welcoming learning environments,
  2. greater persistence and success of underserved minority and first-generation students in STEM majors (and women, in those majors where they are currently underrepresented),
  3. diverse students and faculty feel welcome in the STEM community,
  4. increased numbers of successful, diverse, engaged DePauw alumni in STEM fields, and
  5. a model for inclusive teaching and student support implemented in other disciplines.

Our project has two prongs. The first strategy, anchored in a new university structure for granting tenure- line positions, requires STEM departments to conduct audits to determine their specific problem areas. Our own student focus groups will help us identify local barriers to student achievement and sense of belonging in STEM. Each department, with the support of the HHMI Team and an individual departmental STEM liaison, will develop a plan to address the identified issues. Course development funds and external consultants will assist departments and their liaisons with the process of curricular transformation. A centerpiece of this 21st century curriculum effort is a semester-long Inclusive Excellence course for STEM faculty and staff. This ongoing course will provide cohorts of our colleagues with the tools, training, and community necessary to create more inclusive courses and curricula, and sustain new methods of teaching.

The second prong entails community-building for students, staff, and faculty. We will establish a coordinated mentoring, advising, and tutoring program for STEM courses that bridges the gap between faculty and Student Academic Life, and trains diverse cohorts of upper-level students to serve as STEM Guides for their peers. STEM Guides will work with faculty in their core courses and help foster peer learning. Our community-building effort will also include a semester-long STEM-specific SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) seminar for faculty and staff. The SEED format uses personal testimony and experiential learning to examine and raise awareness of systems of oppression, and to develop empathy and confidence in their diversity and inclusion work. These efforts build on and seek to enhance already established relationships between faculty and staff, honoring the work of both groups by offering access to additional professional development funds.

Our multifaceted assessment efforts entail internal data collection from student focus groups and student success and persistence data from our STEM courses and majors. We will also determine faculty participation in our activities and revised, more inclusive curricula. Our external assessment firm will conduct interviews and surveys, and classroom observations. These data should demonstrate an improved campus climate and sense of belonging for diverse STEM students, faculty, and staff, ultimately evident in our STEM alumni more closely reflecting the demographics of our student body and the greater US population.

Framingham State University

Program Director: Catherine Dignam

The College of STEM at Framingham State University (FSU) will be welcoming and inclusive of all students, particularly those from underrepresented groups. Faculty will routinely implement an experimentalist model of teaching infused with high impact practices and culturally responsive pedagogies; faculty will be comfortable assessing and revising their practices. The University will have shifted to embrace a culture that demands and rewards inclusivity and excellence within the classroom and across campus, and will create policies to support and sustain this goal.

The faculty is central to enacting the mission of any academic institution. Our Theory of Change is based on the premise that in order to effect lasting, meaningful change, a university must change the mindset of its faculty. Faculty at FSU and Mass Bay Community College (MBCC), FSU’s largest feeder community college, will be engaged in a project of intensive faculty development. STEM faculty leaders will be identified and charged with the task of working with staff and administrators to create and implement intensive summer faculty development institutes that will improve faculty self-efficacy with diversity and inclusion, high- impact practices, and culturally responsive pedagogy. Faculty participants will be recruited broadly from both the full-time and part-time STEM faculty, and all participants will be supported and charged with working to infuse the principles of Inclusive Excellence throughout their work at FSU and MBCC. Tenured and tenure-track faculty are often in positions of power on our campus, whether on Governance Committees or as peer evaluators in the reappointment, tenure and promotion process; educating these influential members of the University on the painful effects of racism and exclusion within the academy will help to drive progress forward using more permanent avenues.

We will measure progress towards increasing FSU’s capacity for Inclusive Excellence through assessment of faculty self-efficacy with accomplishing an inclusive classroom in terms of pedagogy, classroom culture, and content. We will also use focus groups to capture the Student Voice along with traditional success metrics.

James Madison University

Program Director: Timothy Bloss

James Madison University is committed to establishing a diverse and inclusive learning community in which each student regardless of background has an equitable opportunity for success. Over the next five years, the JMU Biology Department will shepherd assessable activities designed to define, develop, and secure an enduring inclusive culture. This culture will manifest inside and outside the classroom by encouraging and celebrating inclusive behavior in our faculty and students. We ascribe to a theory of change that implements a reflective and iterative process that has been intentionally designed with interconnected activities to establish and scaffold sequential preconditions necessary for success.

Our faculty development initiative will begin with the assessment of our current state of inclusive awareness. From there we will establish a shared definition of and common language for inclusive practice, develop inclusive pedagogy, explore implicit bias and the threat of false assumptions, and implement inclusive practice throughout the myriad experiences we provide our students. These activities help move us to our goal of establishing inclusivity as an enduring core value for our faculty.

Using the inclusive capacity gained through our faculty development and our previous experience developing an effective freshman CRE, we will design, assess, and iterate a transfer student CRE that provides the same high impact practices experienced by our freshman majors while folding in activities and resources hypothesized to remove barriers and provide access for our transfer students. This CRE will also provide transfer students an experiential touchpoint with our freshmen that will further strengthen our community. Additionally, the framework of this course could be adopted by other departments, colleges and universities.

An additional community building and strengthening initiative is the formation of our BioCommons. This initiative will create a physical space intentionally designed to foster a diverse and inclusive Biology community, while providing resources and services intended to benefit all by ensuring the success of our first-generation and community college transfer students. For this space to be useful to the entire community, we will cultivate a deeper understanding of our students by using their input (which also reveals their needs, desires, and concerns) for the BioCommons, reinforce faculty commitment through a venue that allows them to learn, practice, and assess successful inclusive behavior, and synergize our efforts by programming our transfer student CRE activities in the BioCommons. We aspire to create a space that promotes diversity and inclusion as the optimal learning environment, thereby establishing a community valuable for every student regardless of background.

Valid assessment of our initiatives is essential, and will employ a mixed method approach; quantitative data will show patterns of change while qualitative data will help us understand what the numbers mean. This combined approach will facilitate our strategic decision-making as we move through the course of the project. We are determined to make JMU’s commitment to inclusivity enduring and irreversible by demonstrating that inclusive behavior provides best practice for all of our students and is therefore a nonnegotiable aspect of our campus culture.

Kalamazoo College

Program Director: James Langeland

Kalamazoo College aspires to transform from a diverse institution to one that is fully inclusive. In five years we expect that all STEM faculty and staff will have developed cultural competency and the motivation, knowledge, and skills necessary to create inclusive learning environments. Students from all backgrounds will experience welcoming learning and study spaces in which their life experiences are understood and valued, their strengths appreciated and nurtured, and their innate curiosity fueled. Our students will encounter engaging, socially relevant introductory STEM courses based on cross-cutting foundational concepts and effective evidence-based pedagogies. Class visits by diverse alumni and local professionals working in STEM fields will help students see the relevance of the basic science they are learning to their career goals and social interests, thereby encouraging their persistence. STEM academic support centers will serve as spaces of belonging and growth in which students learn how to learn. These transformed classroom and learning spaces will close opportunity and achievement gaps between underrepresented minority (URM), first-generation (FG), and majority students.

GOALS

A caring, culturally competent climate. We will create and implement a comprehensive professional development program through which faculty and staff learn about historical, social, and psychological dynamics that perpetuate exclusion. All STEM faculty and staff will attend a 2.5-day training on understanding and analyzing systemic racism led by a community-based organization. To build on that training, we will create a series of workshops focused on:

  1. racial identity development and whiteness,
  2. implicit bias and stereotype threat,
  3. microaggressions,
  4. stress and resilience, and
  5. pedagogy of care.

These trainings and workshops will be sustained beyond the grant. More aware, caring, and culturally skilled faculty and staff will be able to connect with the varied cultural backgrounds and value systems of our students, allowing them to thrive and succeed.

Integrated, evidence-based introductory STEM curriculum. We will revise our introductory STEM curriculum to integrate career capital; emphasize shared concepts among disciplines; fully embrace evidence-based pedagogies that have been shown to close achievement gaps; and interface with enhanced academic support centers. At the end of five years, our introductory STEM curriculum will be significantly transformed, and ongoing curricular innovation will be encouraged through sustained institutional support and a revised reward structure. The new position of STEM learning specialist initiated in year 2 of the grant will be sustained beyond the grant term by the College.

Supportive institutional reward system. We will work through the faculty governance system to revise our hiring, retention, tenure, and promotion policies to reward cultural competency and inclusive, evidence- based pedagogy. Once new policies are in place they will help create a positive feedback loop that attracts and rewards faculty who prioritize inclusive teaching practices.

Kennesaw State University

Program Director: Mark Anderson

Kennesaw State University’s Inclusive Excellence program will catalyze a sustainable focus on expanding success for traditionally underserved students in the natural sciences. Students enter Kennesaw State University (KSU) from many starting points. Regardless of where and when students enter the University, our goal is for them to find faculty and staff committed to inclusion, courses that use evidence-based instructional pedagogies that engage students in science, a welcoming community of peers supported with peer learning assistants to enhance active learning environments, and a culture that is focused on the success of every student. The degree curricula will be transformed to include active learning and research experiences throughout and use course assessments as a formative student experience.

Students will be taught metacognitive learning strategies that are integrated across key points in the curriculum, which will help them quickly adjust to a college environment, allow them to develop their personal strategies for success, and allow them to more easily integrate their learning goals with their life commitments. The curriculum will have a cohort structure to establish supportive learning communities as students transition into the university. We will lower barriers for faculty to engage in challenging conversations about race, equity, and educational attainment so that faculty are confident and motivated to invest in inclusion. This will be accomplished through professional development workshops that support faculty as they change their instructional practices. These faculty learning communities will include facilitated conversations about equity and inclusion, and how classroom culture impacts student learning outcomes. Conversations will continue in department- and college-wide faculty retreats. Students will be collaborators in the transformation process throughout. These systems provide a mechanism for continued program development well after the HHMI program concludes.

Throughout the program we will monitor traditional student success metrics (course success rates, retention, progression, graduation), but will also use student and faculty focus groups to provide qualitative data regarding campus and classroom climate and the impact that different elements of the program are having on campus culture. The results will be broadly shared with the KSU and Inclusive Excellence communities. This program will ensure that KSU becomes a model for inclusive excellence in Georgia and across the southeastern United States.

Lawrence University

Program Director: Stefan Debbert

We propose to address structural barriers to success faced by underserved students at Lawrence, particularly first-generation and global majority students in the natural sciences. We seek a natural science community that unreservedly welcomes, fully embraces, thoughtfully engages, and effectively teaches all students of all identities from their very first class through graduation. Our natural sciences division, with broad commitment from our faculty, will place inclusive excellence at the root of our curricula, our mindsets, and our shared mission.

As a result of our work over this grant period, Lawrence faculty and staff in the natural sciences will be better oriented, trained, and equipped to teach and mentor our underserved students. The introductory courses in our biology, chemistry, and physics programs will employ modern, active learning pedagogies, which have been shown to be more effective than traditional lecture-based courses, particularly with respect to underserved students. Our new introductory courses – redesigned to center on inclusion, restructured to engage every student, and supported with peer-led learning groups – will lead to better outcomes for our underserved students, both in these courses and beyond. The success of these new introductory courses will lead to the adoption of inclusive, active pedagogy throughout our natural science curricula. New assessment strategies for these classes will help us evolve and improve our policies and practices continuously up to and beyond the end of the grant period.

Our plan to achieve these goals involves significant professional and curricular development. Divisional retreats and workshops for our faculty and staff will help nurture a community of practice dedicated to the pursuit of inclusive excellence. These retreats and workshops, coupled with site visits to exceptional peer institutions, will help our faculty learn and develop more inclusive pedagogies and practices. Three two-year STEM Pedagogy Fellows, recent PhDs in discipline-based education research, will provide further training and guidance in inclusive, active pedagogy for Lawrence faculty. In parallel with the active involvement and contributions of the STEM Pedagogy Fellows, Lawrence faculty will have the time and opportunity to engage in new course development and implementation. In addition, we will build on a successful program in our introductory biology curriculum by developing and implementing peer-led learning groups for the introductory courses in chemistry and physics to help students connect with each other as they develop study skills.

Assisted by a dedicated evaluation analyst and coordinator, we will measure our progress by tracking disaggregated academic data as well as student survey data that assess the effect of our courses on students’ understanding of, and attitudes toward, science. In addition to collecting qualitative survey data, we will monitor whether our activities reduce the achievement gaps faced by our underserved students, particularly in grades in introductory courses and GPA at graduation. An evaluation team will guide our efforts, creating critical evaluation feedback loops to iteratively improve our programs and pedagogies. Ongoing qualitative and quantitative assessment of our activities will allow our natural science division to iteratively improve our practices and policies, and to continue to strive for inclusive excellence at Lawrence.

Mercy College

Program Director: Jose Herrera

Mercy College, a proud and diverse Hispanic-Serving Institution aspires to change the culture of the entire institution to be more inclusive by being intentional and dynamic in the way it treats all of its students, faculty, and staff. To start, we will focus on how these changes will increase the representation, persistence, and graduation of underrepresented students majoring in Biology.

The Program and Goals

Mercy’s President has charged the College community with increasing efforts to help all students overcome social, emotional, and administrative hurdles to secure the full benefits of higher education. In alignment with this charge, the project will develop: (1) an Adjunct Academy for science instructors--the first of its kind in our region, to develop engaged and interculturally-competent instructors who are reflective and cognizant of student needs, and use inclusive pedagogies (including the use of High- Impact Practices) across our biology curriculum. More importantly, the program will cultivate instructors who feel included and valued as members of the College community, and understand students’ needs; (2) Predictive Analytics and Data-driven Personalized Pathways to strategically expand our investment in and use of data, with a focus on analytics that incorporate non-cognitive and psychosocial factors to better understand and address factors that impact our students’ success.

Progress and Learning

The project will:

  1. characterize what it means to be inclusive at Mercy College while measuring the changes based on this collaborative definition; and,
  2. evaluate synergetic effects of changes in institutional capacity for inclusive excellence on student and faculty outcomes.

Participants in our Adjunct Academy will complete the Intercultural Development Inventory, receive training in inclusive pedagogical strategies, reflect on learning and application of these strategies, and receive one-on-one mentoring. Our task force of faculty, IR/IT specialists, and staff will conduct a comprehensive landscape analysis representing demographics among Biology students to create a data baseline. Statistical analysis of these data, along with early phase predictive modeling ongoing at Mercy, will determine variables most highly associated with risk of attrition and academic performance. As part of the landscape analysis, we will develop a non-cognitive assessment plan with the assistance of a retention consultant. Through analysis of the predictive model, we will provide instructors and students with appropriate personalized data and pathways. Inclusive excellence of instructors will be measured through sustained student satisfaction in end-of-course surveys, student and adjunct focus groups, results from formal observations and improvements in student grades, and retention in Biology. Statistical comparisons to baseline, in part, will determine if these new initiatives are effectively propelling the success of students in Biology. Every other year, we will convene students, full-time and adjunct faculty, administrators, student advisors and staff to discuss project implementation and make appropriate modifications to our program. The College’s administration is committed to sustaining the successful elements of this project. This will include (but is not limited to) retaining highly qualified Academy graduates for a minimum of two to three years, implementing distribution of data and analytics that show promise at improving student and faculty success.

Mount Mary University

Program Director: Lynn Diener

The HHMI Inclusive Excellence Program positions Mount Mary University to become educationally excellent by addressing the disparity in educational outcomes and making equity a priority. The Mount Mary University project is a campus-wide, intentional, and evidence-based effort toward inclusive excellence.

The project will engage all faculty, staff, and administration in professional development around unlearning racism and trauma-informed practice. Faculty specifically will receive training in decreasing math anxiety and stereotype threat and develop their skills in unlearning racism to create inclusive classroom environments and curricula. A STEM curriculum specialist will be hired to help faculty in STEM and other disciplines to move what they learn in their workshops into their classes. The specialist will help to facilitate lasting change that will be seen in all classes across the University. Through community engaged activities, including poster sessions and service learning experiences, students will develop their identities as scientists.

These interventions will enable a change in culture at the institution that will echo through every office, every classroom, every hallway, and every interaction a student, staff, faculty or administration has with each other. With both greater awareness of systemic racism and tools to unlearn it the University will be better equipped to support all of our diverse student body to success. With high impact practices we will also improve our students’ sense of themselves as a scientist. This will improve their retention in the sciences and help to encourage them to go further with their education.

Multiple surveys and instruments will be used to measure everything from campus climate, to implicit bias, and to math anxiety. We will also employ interviews to get a deeper sense of the students’ experiences before and after the interventions. As we learn what works and what doesn’t, we will adapt our project to better achieve our intended outcomes.

Norfolk State University

Program Director: Ashley Haines

Norfolk State University is a historically black college/university (HBCU) with a strong STEM tradition. As such, we are uniquely positioned to promote the inclusion of members of the global majority who are typically underrepresented in STEM fields. Our primary approach to achieving this is through the use of a novel research program called a SEC3URE: Spartans Engaged in C3UREs integrated across our four-year curriculum. The novel, hypothesis-driven projects are specifically selected for their ability to impact the local environment or local/minority populations. They will bring STEM faculty and all students enrolled in core biology courses together on one overarching research project. This approach will lead to institutional change by enabling our faculty to explicitly demonstrate to students:

  1. how courses in related disciplines interconnect,
  2. how to develop a strong sense of project ownership and commitment,
  3. the relevance of scientific research to students, for themselves, and their community, and
  4. how to build collaborations between STEM and non-STEM departments and the community.

These activities constitute the primary framework of our theory of change. The goal is to shift the mindset of faculty towards not just telling how research is done but engaging in it with the students, other NSU colleagues, and community organizations. This will enable us to better prepare future cohorts of students to become successful members of the STEM work force, as they will already view themselves as a part of the STEM community because of the research they have done at NSU.

Hand-in-hand with the SEC3URE is a concerted assessment effort designed to measure both faculty and student attitudes, feelings, and decisions. We seek to better understand how faculty view students and their abilities, and how faculty view their own ability to impact student outcomes. We will survey the barriers that faculty perceive, and then tackle as a group whether those barriers are real, imagined, malleable, movable, or removable. This will be accomplished through discussions initially amongst the leadership team, then expanding to the departments involved, then to the College and the University as a whole. We will also use surveys to assess student attitudes about science as they enter the college, and as they progress through the curriculum. We will also survey students to know when and why students leave STEM majors, and for those who finish a STEM degree, to know where they go and why. This will allow us to more directly address barriers to their inclusion in STEM careers. We will share these data with the faculty and administration in the form of annual reports to encourage our entire institution to tackle the identified issues head-on. Within the participating departments (biology, chemistry, math), we will use these data to set new departmental goals and to direct specific changes to be implemented by our curriculum and retention committees. Together we believe these approaches will result in measurably improved inclusion in STEM for the population of global majority students at Norfolk State University.

North Carolina State University

Program Director: Vicki Martin

  1. IE Scholars: Our goal is to create a community of faculty aware of barriers to student success and committed to transforming their teaching and mentoring through inclusive excellence. IE-NC will train 80 faculty as IE Scholars, drawn from nine life science degree programs in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences and College of Sciences. After five years, we expect the Office of Faculty Development and the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity to continue to offer IE Scholar training across all science disciplines.
  2. IE Courses: Our goal is to infuse inclusive pedagogical practices throughout existing courses and support the development of new IE courses, including IE-informed course-based authentic research experiences. IE Scholars will develop or revise some 110 courses, including at least 20 new course-based undergraduate research experiences (IE CUREs). Some of these courses will be built into a first-term curriculum. As a result, all new transfer and freshmen students will take at least one IE-transformed course in their first term, and all new transfer students will also take an IE CURE during their first term. Other students will also have access to these courses. We expect to directly impact 10,000 students over five years through IE- transformed courses. By creating courses and building them into our curricula, and by continuing to train more IE Scholars, we will ensure the transformation of how we teach science at NC State.
  3. IE Community: Our goal is to cultivate an enhanced sense of belonging and self-efficacy in science among all of our students and to increase student persistence and student success. All IE-NC programming will contribute to this goal, including proactive advisors, peer mentors, outreach to community college students, small section sizes and IE-inspired courses in the first-term curriculum taught by IE Scholars, collaborative research experiences, and administrative changes to create reasonable and accessible paths-to-degree that are integrated across NC Community Colleges and NC State curricula in a program-specific manner. These efforts will encourage interactions (with peers, advisors, faculty) and facilitate the development of a sense of belonging at NC State, and will directly impact an estimated 300 NC Community College students before they even apply to NC State as well as some 3000 freshmen and 600 transfer students. After five years, we will be expanding our outreach efforts to more prospective students and continuing to grow our capacity for advising, mentoring, and building community among all of our life science students.
  4. IE NC State: Our goal is to transform NC State into an institution of inclusive excellence by focusing on faculty transformation, partnerships with key stakeholders, course and curricular reform, and assessment- based program decisions. IE-NC programs will be designed, implemented, and assessed with the goal not only of making them permanent NC State programs, but also having them serve as models to inspire other programming at NC State.

Assessments will focus on faculty growth, course offerings and course quality, curricular changes, students’ sense of belonging and self-efficacy, and a range of measures of student success.

Oregon State University

Program Director: Martin Storksdieck

Inclusive Excellence@Oregon State builds on Oregon State University’s recent progress enhancing equity, inclusion, and integration of evidence-based instructional practices by strengthening STEM instructors’ capacity for cultural responsiveness. The goal for infusing inclusive and culturally responsive pedagogies into evidence-based teaching practices in STEM is to allow all students to learn as their authentic selves in the absence of marginalizing language, and to increase belongingness and classroom community for all. The program is a collaboration of OSU’s Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning, the College of Science, and the Division of Undergraduate Education.

Faculty teaching foundational STEM courses at OSU and nearby community colleges play a critical role in shaping students’ early college experiences and success. Productively addressing issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in everyday STEM learning experiences will expand current efforts to transform OSU into a welcoming and nurturing environment for all students to learn and grow.

The program will establish a sustainable model for faculty development that will empower instructors to strengthen STEM instructional practices at OSU and those nearby community colleges that serve students who transfer to OSU. Five groups of 20 “Inclusive Excellence Fellows” will participate in a one-week intensive training (modeled after OSU ADVANCE) to learn about power, difference, discrimination, cultural humility, and weaving culturally responsive practices together with evidence-based instructional practices. Each fellow will generate an action plan for transforming their own practice over the following year. Undergraduate learning assistants and graduate teaching assistants, each with pedagogical training and experience facilitating active and cooperative learning in the classroom, will provide direct support to fellows as they execute their action plans. The fellows will work in peer learning groups to assess their progress toward changing practice and collaboratively overcome the challenges of transforming STEM courses. OSU’s ongoing community of practice, Enhancing STEM Education at OSU, or ESTEME@OSU, will expand its focus toward Inclusive Excellence and provide quarterly opportunities for instructional faculty working to improve practice to interact across colleges and disciplines.

The OSU evaluation team will monitor changes in teaching practices and document student success in transformed courses relative to other courses. Even more important will be understanding how OSU with its specific institutional context, legacies, and student body is transforming through Inclusive Excellence so we can sustain successes and expand progress over time. To capture the story of transformation, we will employ an approach inspired by design-based implementation research and developmental evaluation methods. These practices emphasize learning and adapting activities in iterative cycles and are particularly suited to initiatives that seek to transform systems. They prioritize embedded and continuous evaluative and reflective practices that emphasize substantial qualitative data to help make meaning and tell the story of OSU’s Inclusive Excellence journey.

Roosevelt University

Program Director: Kelly Wentz-Hunter

Goals and Aspirations: Inclusive excellence at Roosevelt University (RU) will be defined by a successful student experience for all with a focus on underrepresented minority/global majority and first generation students. RU, founded on the principles of social justice and inclusion, successfully recruits women (75%), underrepresented minorities/global majority (40%) and first generation students (50%) into its science programs. However, these students leave science at a higher rate than majority students and even those students that persist to graduation may not have had a positive student experience where they felt welcomed and valued. To provide a successful inclusive excellence student experience in the sciences, we will help students find their fit through support, mentorship, and skill building opportunities. We will increase cultural responsiveness, reflected in our pedagogy and interactions with students, among science faculty and staff. By the conclusion of the project, we expect our work to be the foundation for institutional policy changes enhancing student experiences. We will observe formalized changes in institutional practices, as well as, measurable increases in retention and graduation of underrepresented minority/global majority and first generation students in the sciences.

Program

Experts in diversity and inclusion will lead intensive trainings for faculty and staff in the sciences to help recognize implicit biases and understand the connection between cultural responsiveness and inclusive excellence. As the faculty increase their understanding of these issues, they will implement changes to their pedagogy and behavior with students and other members of the university community. In addition to changing what is happening in the classroom, we will help to guide students in navigating their pathway of academic success and to find their personal fit among the science curriculum and various career options. A sequence of intentional and carefully monitored mentoring scaffolding, including peer and faculty mentors, will work to increase student engagement in student success support activities and experiential learning opportunities. Our progress, as well as challenges, will be disseminated to the greater university community through the Center of Teaching and Learning workshops, presentations at the annual Provost’s faculty conference, and meetings with RU administration. This will allow RU to develop a strategic plan for inclusive excellence beyond the sciences and implement institutional policy changes to benefit all student experiences.

Progress and Learning

Progress will be measured using a combination of formative and summative assessment tools. For some initiatives, the assessment may involve determining outcomes based on institutional data. Demographic and usage information will be used to evaluate who is using services, how often, and why. Data from student records will include GPA, retention and graduation rates, dropped courses, repeated courses, and changes in majors. In addition, data from faculty, staff and student interviews, student focus groups (prospective, current, and former), classroom and university climate surveys, and self-report surveys will be collected. Data from these assessments will be used to modify the dynamic system of support and inclusion that we have designed. In addition to assessing each initiative individually, the system as a whole will be evaluated for efficacy, efficiency and sustainability.

Syracuse University

Program Director: George Langford

The goal of the CHANcE Project is to create an inclusive environment for students from groups underrepresented in STEM, including “minorities” (URM) and first-generation students in courses in STEM departments (biology and chemistry) thereby providing a supportive campus culture at Syracuse University that will ensure that every student is respected and valued, a campus that is student-ready.

In five years, we anticipate that the Biology and Chemistry Departments will have implemented structures, policies, and practices with inclusive decision making and inclusive forms of power sharing on all levels of their department’s work. As a result of these changes, we anticipate the elimination of the disparity between underrepresented and white students in matriculation, persistence, and completion of biology and chemistry majors; and in pursuing advanced degrees in STEM or pursuing a STEM career.

Our theory of change is to implement strategies that move the Biology and Chemistry Departments toward a commitment to intentionally identify as culturally inclusive departments, and to engage in activities that foster cultural responsiveness and inclusion. To achieve our goal, biology and chemistry faculty will implement culturally responsive practices in their courses and redesign courses to incorporate active learning and authentic research experiences. Biology and chemistry faculty who teach the first-year introductory courses will adopt the Peer-Led Team Learning model.

To improve cultural awareness and develop deep knowledge of specific high-impact practices for active learning pedagogy, biology and chemistry faculty will participate in the following activities. They will attend one 2-day workshop off-campus each semester organized and facilitated by individuals with expertise in inclusive excellence, theory of change, and active learning pedagogy. In addition, biology and chemistry faculty will meet biweekly with a “group of four” (GOF) fellow faculty members, facilitated by a Discipline- Based Education Researcher (DBER), and attend one other special event or activity to share ideas across GOFs, which will be organized and facilitated by the DBER fellow. These activities will also support DBER graduate students in their development as future faculty.

We will measure our progress and learning by monitoring changes in the number of URM students who matriculate, persist, and graduate in STEM majors and who pursue advanced STEM degrees or STEM career. We will also monitor the level of understanding of inclusive and active learning pedagogy by faculty in biology and chemistry and the level to which they implement active learning practices in their classrooms. We will also determine whether URM students develop positive perceptions of “sense of inclusion” in STEM and have increased research self-efficacy. We will monitor whether students are engaged in active learning in their biology and chemistry courses and have more authentic research experiences and have positive perceptions of gateway courses’ inclusiveness.

In summary, the CHANcE Project is designed to eliminate institutional barriers to student success, using evidence-based practices to transform our courses and campus life so that they are more conducive to student success for all. Biology and Chemistry faculty will become champions of inclusive excellence as a result of their participation in professional development workshops designed to help them implement practices that mitigate racial/gender biases and other forms of miscommunication, privileging dominant norms, and value orientations.

The College of New Jersey

Program Director: Jeffrey Osborn

Through data-driven self-reflection, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) has identified structural and cultural barriers that have inadvertently contributed to performance/opportunity gaps among our student population. TCNJ’s Inclusive Excellence project will target these barriers to student success through three main aims:

  1. Create a more inclusive culture among our faculty and in our core science and math courses.
  2. Develop more inclusive academic advising and research mentoring systems and cultures.
  3. Enhance and reward a culture of evidence-based reflection and innovation to encourage inclusivity.

Aspirations and Goals

Inclusive Excellence at TCNJ ultimately means that all of our students view our institution as a welcoming and inclusive community. It also means that quantitative measures of student success are strong and equitable across our student population. Our first aim will result in our faculty utilizing inclusive pedagogies across our natural science curricula, particularly in 16 redesigned core courses spanning four departments that our students take during their first two years. Through this process, we will cultivate a culture of pedagogical experimentation to enhance student success. Our second aim focuses on steeping our faculty in knowledge of our students’ whole selves, which will inform all faculty-student interactions. Our third aim will enhance our capacity for assessing inclusivity and improve our structures to prioritize, recognize, and reward efforts to create an inclusive environment. A robust partnership between our faculty and TCNJ’s Center for Institutional Effectiveness will support data-driven experimentation, which is at the heart of our planned cultural shift.

Approach

We will first provide key faculty, staff, and students with targeted training and skills so that they can improve and incorporate inclusive practices into their teaching, advising, mentoring, and assessment. Because training alone will not create an inclusive culture, we identified ten milestones to achieve sustained engagement of our community, and a scaling-up of activities during and beyond the grant period. These include: (1) create a coalition of full-time and adjunct faculty members trained in scientific teaching methods; (2) designate Inclusivity Coordinators in each School of Science department; (3) maintain regular inclusivity training; (4) redesign 16 core courses; (5) revise student training protocols for peer roles; (6) establish an internal advisor/mentor training team; (7) implement a revised set of orientation seminars; (8) improve our system for accessing mentored research; (9) implement new measures for assessment; and (10) adapt tenure/promotion policies.

Progress and Institutional Learning

Our core leadership team will work with TCNJ’s Center for Institutional Excellence (CIE) to design targeted assessments to track and improve our work. The CIE, with assistance from an external assessment expert, will develop new measures for assessing scientific teaching and inclusivity that are sustainable. Finally, an external advisory committee comprised of three experts whose knowledge aligns with each our three main aims will provide formative guidance and help us to sustain Inclusive Excellence over the long-term. TCNJ’s Inclusive Excellence transformation will have broad impacts throughout our institution; in addition to our School of Science, our Center for Student Success, Tutoring Center, Diversity Office, the CIE and more will participate.

University of California-Merced

Program Director: Jennifer Manilay

Our aspiration is to establish welcoming and innovative curricular and social practices that encourage the success of students in the global majority and first-generation college biology students. Our implementation plan will begin with activities that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) so that all faculty in the biology program can become aware of DEI issues on our campus and how the changes we propose in pedagogy can impact the way we interact with our students. Our vision is that by connecting the DEI training to our scientific work, our faculty will gain new perspective in the redesign and delivery of our courses, and also respect the diversity of backgrounds in our students in this context.

In order to be better positioned to work towards inclusive excellence, we will (1) establish and institutionalize a faculty development program in inclusive pedagogy, (2) incorporate faculty-student collaborations to produce new student-focused inquiry-based labs (IBLs) and course-based research experiences (CREs) to engage all biology undergraduates in the processes of scientific discovery, and (3) facilitate faculty-student learning communities to converse with STEM students on academic success, time management, perseverance and the collective diversity of the backgrounds on our campus.

UC Merced’s Principles of Community reflect our vision of inclusive excellence. These Principles rely on the values of mutual respect, celebration of our identities, collaboration, and “excellence in teaching and learning through contributions from all community members fostering a culture of open exchange.” We have recently initiated Living/Learning Communities (LLCs) in our residence halls, where students with similar academic interests are co-housed, and mentoring programs are managed by academic advisors and graduate students. We will build upon this mentoring structure by incorporating faculty into the LLCs via “What’s Your Story” faculty-student dinners focused on sharing stories of struggles and success in STEM, and create a family-like relationship between faculty and students. In the teaching laboratories, we will create laboratory experiences that reflect our students’ interests and our local research investigations.

Importantly, we will create and institutionalize a faculty development program in inclusive pedagogy that can be utilized in the laboratories, in the lecture hall, and outside of the classroom as faculty engage meaningfully into empathetic mentoring relationships with our students. For each activity, we will incorporate both quantitative and qualitative assessments of faculty and student participation, evidence of changes in faculty and student attitudes towards each other, sense of belonging and connections across campus, gains in students’ mastery of key biological concepts, and other measures of academic success in our students. We will encourage faculty to include reflection on their progress towards inclusive excellence in their merit review statements.

In five years, we anticipate that our efforts will result in significant improvement in retention of BIO students, IBLs and CREs will be the “normal” laboratory curriculum, and the number of students that achieve proficiency in the BIO program learning outcomes will increase. Our goal is to establish inclusive excellence practices as a deeply rooted part of UC Merced’s campus culture for the advancement of all students.

University of Houston-Downtown

Program Director: James Uzman

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD), Department of Natural Sciences (NS) aspires to create a culture of inclusive excellence (IE) through an experimental UHD SynergIE Program that will increase UHDs capacity for access and inclusion. In five years, we anticipate that NS will have a transformed faculty and curriculum that will equitably promote the engagement and success of all students. Approaching our fifth year, our emerging learning ecology model for inclusive excellence will be shared with the college and university as a potential model for inclusive excellence across the university.

The goal of the UHD SynergIE Program is to create a learning environment that promotes inclusive excellence. To reach this goal this program will

  1. provide a faculty education and training program to develop faculty as culturally aware and responsive educators;
  2. increase access and inclusion for all NS students through a new transparent curricula, with supporting co-curricular, and extracurricular activities targeting all student regardless of their background and entry points into NS degrees; and
  3. develop physical and digital resources for students to increase their self-efficacy for learning and identity as future scientists.

The UHD SynergIE Program theory of change has five key preconditions: (1) developed IE-skilled faculty; (2) faculty and peer mentoring in key first-year and gateway courses; (3) transparent curricula; (4) engaged families; and (5) physical and digital structures that promote self-efficacy for learning.

Our progress will rely on faculty engaged in the principles and best practices of inclusive excellence. This fundamental goal will be reached via formal training of faculty through in-house and external trainings and conferences. The UHD Center for Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the UHD Center for Critical Race Studies will further develop IE-skilled faculty. These faculty will then leverage current programs and practices at UHD to train fellow naïve faculty, creating a sustainable community of practice. Faculty development in inclusive excellence will be assessed through monitoring the emerging population of trained faculty and their subsequent efforts to develop the skills of their faculty colleagues in inclusive excellence and transparent pedagogy. The Progress towards Inclusive Excellence through Reflection (PIER) will serve as a framework for self-reflective learning by the leadership team, institutional evaluator, and NS faculty.

The ultimate metrics for program learning and progress will be how effectively we close the gap between declared NS majors and NS graduates, and how many underrepresented minority (URM) students graduate with NS degrees. Enhanced student self-efficacy for learning will manifest in student perceptions of inclusivity in the scientific enterprise and their effective use of cultural spaces and other developed resources. Inclusive practices and transparent pedagogy are assessed through traditional metrics of student success and surveys that measure student engagement with their education. Surveys regarding physical and digital resources, effectiveness of culturally-relevant instruction, and family engagement will reveal student satisfaction with the UHD SynergIE Program. Continuous self-reflection and professional assessment of SynergIE activities will assess organizational learning.

University of Illinois at Chicago

Program Director: Henrik Aratyn

This project will lead a long-term operational, organizational, and cultural change towards both excellence and inclusion in teaching of STEM disciplines at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). As a diverse and highly research active, large, urban and public campus, UIC is well positioned to test and pioneer programmatic designs to promote and enhance STEM inclusion.

Our road-map consists of two parallel approaches directed toward inclusive STEM education.

Our professional faculty development will be based on engaging faculty as catalysts for change. A workshop- based intervention by external and internal experts will form a unique mentored program that will provide opportunities for core faculty that teach the gateway STEM courses to acquire the tools necessary to deliver culturally inclusive and evidence-based STEM pedagogy. Building upon the skills developed in this program the core STEM faculty will then act as effective change-agents contributing to the STEM community by presenting their own workshops describing how they incorporated inclusive classroom techniques in their instructional activities to take advantage of the cultural capital and knowledge of our diverse and unique student body.

High numbers of prerequisites, high percentage of contact hours per earned credit, and lack of alternatives for students withdrawing from gateway courses often result in narrow pathways toward the STEM degree for many first-generation and underrepresented students. Our curricular and co-curricular program will effectively lead to removing these barriers in students’ STEM education by redesigning requirements for both “gateway” and upper-level courses in Biological Sciences, Chemistry, and Physics, and by increasing course coordination to better manage instruction and assessment across the many sections, and by ensuring curriculum alignment to better connect content of labs and lectures.

After identifying key concepts and topics that students are struggling with in gateway courses the program will develop the core-mastery courses and instructional techniques based on active learning to foster mastery and success by all students and to promote students' facility with the critical exchange of ideas. The core-mastery course will be a culturally-relevant, problem-based course that will provide students frequent feedback about their performance. It will be targeted to students' educational needs, while focusing on their active work in an inquiry-based setting toward content mastery. This problem-solving approach will provide an environment in which new subjects will be introduced and covered replacing lecturing.

In the course of this award the HHMI funds will be used as a catalyst to accelerate increase of institutional capacity for inclusion in STEM while we will also rely on resources and initiatives (like the Learning Sciences Research Institute (LSRI), LAS Math and Science Learning Center, and Center for the Advancement of Teaching-Learning Communities (TLC)) that are already part of the UIC landscape. A key member of the assessment and implementation team will be a grant-supported LSRI postdoctoral fellow.

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Program Director: Elizabeth Connor

This project will develop and provide semester-long, course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) for life science majors in the introductory biology laboratory course and upper level life science courses. Initially, our project focuses on the cohort of ~ 600 life science students who share a core introductory curriculum and represent about half of the students in the introductory biology sequence. We will subsequently expand the participant group to include ALL students in introductory biology. The goals and aspirations of this project are that, by the end of the award period, we will have

  • a robust infrastructure to support faculty and instructional personnel in the creation of an inclusive learning environment,
  • research-active faculty who will be engaged in and supported through the design and implementation of CURE curricula, allowing them to connect more deeply with student outcomes through a shared commitment to the research questions,
  • established a culture of ongoing assessment, feedback, and planning within departments around student success, and
  • begun to scale successful CURE practices to other STEM departments.

Our theory of change will lead from implementation-related activities, including CURE development, pilot testing, and scale-up, to cultural changes across the institution with respect to student success in STEM disciplines. The CURE-based work that comprises the short-term objectives of the program will lead into training and dissemination among the faculty and administration in which our goals will be to:

  • shift faculty and administrator views about the synergies between teaching and research,
  • increase the institutional recognition and reward of teaching, and
  • deepen faculty understanding of the link between their pedagogical choices and students’ long-term academic success.

In the long term, the work of this project will result in deep structural changes in the way that the academic mission is approached. As a result, we will transform into an institution in which:

  • every student feels welcomed to engage in STEM,
  • every student has the confidence that they can pursue their interests successfully,
  • every faculty and staff member is committed to the success of every student,
  • everyone that interacts with students is committed to inclusive excellence, and
  • every student feels that they belong at UMass.

We will measure inclusion by participation in high impact learning experiences that are currently not required in any life science major, and importantly, require faculty sponsorship. Formative assessment will include focus groups that examine students’ self-efficacy, belonging, science identity, and learning gains. Faculty attitudes and practices will be revealed by focus groups, observation of pedagogical practices and statistics about student participation and success. We expect to see a positive trajectory from the 2017 baseline in the percentage of underrepresented students in high impact learning experiences, first year retention, and graduation rates. We anticipate that faculty attitudes about the “readiness” of traditionally underserved students will change and we will see greater diversity among the students who participate in the limited apprentice-style research experiences. Faculty and administrator interviews will allow us to assess the status of and changes in faculty awareness of issues around inclusion as relates to student success in STEM disciplines.

University of Missouri-Columbia

Program Director: Marcelle Siegel

The University of Missouri (MU) will transform instructional, institutional, and undergraduate experiences for new majority students across the natural sciences through intensive community building, deconstructing, and partnering efforts.

Goals and Aspirations

The vision is to disrupt current practices, attitudes, and structural barriers and create a campus environment in which students truly thrive. We aim to develop a culture of inclusive excellence, meaning the practice of extending a quality education to all students, the culture of welcoming students to belong in academic communities, and the act of empowering participants in the practice of science. The THRIVE project will develop a science identity for the new majority by enhancing faculty’s teaching identities (as inclusive teachers) and advisors’ supporting identities (as inclusive advisors). Due to retention gaps of underrepresented racialized groups and transfer students at MU, the project will zone in on these two target groups.

Program

THRIVE’s theory of change is grounded in Spencer’s (2006) PVEST framework, an identity focused, cultural ecology framework. Our goal is for students to see that science at MU is ‘for me’ by addressing the various stress engagements they face as a result of their interactions with faculty, staff, and peers. THRIVE employs three mechanisms to drive change, 1) organizational catalysts, 2) institutional mindfulness, and 3) student leadership. The activities of the project are tightly coupled to data and to incentives for participation and change. Activities aim to: 1) Enhance the institution’s inclusive culture and capacity through: building relationships and breaking down the power dynamic with (a) three community colleges, (b) one Historically Black College, and (c) Columbia public schools; initiating a preliminary data repository and intervention training to enhance access to and understanding of student progress; 2) Enhance the inclusive capacity of instructors and advisors through communities featuring: team mentoring with both inclusion and pedagogy mentoring experts; reflective data and video interventions; a resource library for inclusive teaching and mentoring; and 3) Enhance the community and retention of new majority undergraduates through: developing intergenerational Peer Mentoring Networks; establishing communities of practice to enhance belonging and growth; implementing Leadership Development on the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion; synergizing with existing academic and extracurricular programming.

Progress and Learning

To measure change and learn from the evidence collected, we employ an innovative research and evaluation approach. We purposefully chose design based research because it offers a process for quickly trying out prototypes and refining them. This approach emphasizes what works and also how it works. With the two-fold goals of informing both theoretical principles and practice, it involves consecutive cycles of design, implementation, assessment, and informed redesign leading to a functional model. Two Core Team members and two evaluators will lead the research efforts. The evaluators were recruited due to their years of experience with equity related projects. One is a quantitative expert and the other is a qualitative expert and will focus on documenting issues, progress, and success through video documentaries of classrooms and individual interviews with students and faculty. The THRIVE project findings will be incorporated into a model to demonstrate effective routes for the challenging task of capacity building and institutional change.

University of Puerto Rico-Humacao

Program Director: Lilliam Casillas-Martinez

The 1st GEN & PROUD (Puerto Rican Outstanding Undergraduate Diversified) program aspires to become the first center where first generation Latinx students will be welcomed, supported and empowered in STEM fields at a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and faculty will be trained to support these students. Excellence in STEM requires diverse perspectives, which cannot be achieved without inclusive environments to recruit, retain, and train future scientists and engineers. Most HSIs lack formal spaces to discuss inclusion and equity strategies and there is a prevalent lack of knowledge about cultural and intersectional differences among Hispanic subgroups like 1st GEN, promoting the general misconception that Latinx students are “all the same.” There is a need to study and establish best practices to prevent the institutionalization of “deficit models” and to reject cultural stereotypes related to Latinx achievement and interest in STEM. This project will be evaluated in such a way as to address new and more culturally relevant metrics of student perceptions and “lived experience” of Latinx students in STEM.

At UPRH, the graduation rate of students in STEM (20%) is less than half that of all majors (44%) and the three introductory courses with the highest rates of student failure campus-wide are all in STEM, effectively making them “bottleneck courses”. With the catalyzing influence of an HHMI IE award, UPRH intends to increase the STEM graduation rate for (1st Gen) Latinx students in STEM within five years through multifaceted efforts to improve the way that faculty and other institutional representatives interact with and support students. Inclusive excellence training (such as best practices in culturally responsive pedagogy) will enhance faculty and administrator understanding of the most-effective ways to support diversity among students, utilizing an asset-model rather than a deficit-model (fixing the students). This will be achieved through development of a new Center for Teaching and Learning that will not only provide a mechanism for faculty development, course refinement, and student supports, which are key components of this proposal, but also a means for institutional learning through studies of student needs, various interventions, and student outcomes. This significantly increases UPRH’s capacity for inclusive excellence through continuous monitoring and assessment of student outcomes and utilization of findings through faculty development, course modifications, new services and resources for students, and potential policy change. Specifically, through the CTL, we will monitor program impacts on various measures of student learning and attitude outcomes (including metrics regarding ethnic identity, cultural congruity, and acculturative stress) to inform program activities, and ultimately to disseminate successes nationwide as a model for other HSIs. During the project, these processes will be guided with input from our external evaluator, who will provide formative assessment feedback to guide program modifications, as well as a summative final report.

The CTL is a sustainable model for increasing UPRH’s capacity for inclusive excellence because it represents a vitally needed resource in Puerto Rico. We predict other institutions and industry will participate in this tuition-driven programming once it is developed and tested. To this end, professionals from the main HSI in Puerto Rico, the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), will work in collaboration with the Latinx online scientific network/platform Ciencia Puerto Rico (CienciaPR) to create the 1st GEN & PROUD national network which will provide an online/interactive database/platform for sharing of research, ideas, best practices, etc. among minoritized and allied 1st Gen students and faculty in STEM. The network design will be grounded in the Anti-Deficit Achievement Framework (ADAF), which was validated with students of color in STEM. An innovative element of 1st GEN & PROUD is that it will be designed by Latinx for Latinx to especially welcome and support 1st GEN (and other groups such as Afro-descendants, and women).

Expected key outcomes: 1) the 1st GEN & PROUD CTL at UPRH promoting gender- and culturally-responsive strategies in STEM; (2) Curricular changes in core courses increasing the graduation rates of STEM undergraduates from 20% to 30%; (3) Faculty Institute on STEM Best-Practices at HSIs training HSI faculty on curricular materials, training strategies, and successful interventions; (4) Self-sustaining National Association of 1st Gen Students; (5) Increased ethnic identity and pride in Latinx students; and, (6) Enhanced capacity for institutional learning and change at UPRH, promoting inclusive excellence.

University of Saint Thomas (MN)

Program Director: J. Roxanne Prichard

Goals & Aspirations

We aspire to improve our institutional teaching, advising, and governing policies and practices in ways that facilitate success in the sciences for students from all backgrounds. This inclusive excellence framework will call on us to redesign our introductory science courses; embed high-impact, culturally-responsive mentoring into our undergraduate advising; and reform our faculty evaluation processes such that inclusive practices are tracked and rewarded. In five years, our goals are that:

  1. A majority of our full-time and regular adjunct science faculty members will undergo training in evidence- based, culturally responsive pedagogy;
  2. Our science division student leaders and academic support staff will be trained in diversity and inclusion in the workplace;
  3. STEM faculty members will be trained in and practice strengths-based mentoring;
  4. At least 20 course sections will be redesigned to incorporate culturally responsive teaching practices in our introductory science sequence; and
  5. We will assess inclusion practices and effective advising as part of departmental and faculty annual evaluations.

Our aspirations are that we eliminate the observed racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in rates of students graduating with STEM degrees, matriculating to graduate programs, and participating in cocurricular research and leadership opportunities, and that students’ narratives reflect experiencing a more welcoming, engaging, and inclusive environment.

Program

Our theory of change model builds on the need for increased faculty awareness that acceptance of implicit college norms perpetuates racial and economic inequities. Increased awareness of factors that perpetuate inequity is not sufficient to motivate change. Therefore, as we work to increase learning and conversation opportunities for faculty and staff members about these issues, we will also integrate progress toward inclusion as part of regular individual and department level assessments. Specifically, we will:

  • Create a STEM-specific series within our Center for Faculty Development Inclusive Classroom Institute. Faculty members will be incentivized to participate in workshops, faculty and staff co-led discussion groups, and learning communities on evidence-based practices for culturally responsive teaching. Faculty will also receive teaching enhancement grants for revising or adding new STEM classes that align with campus-wide curriculum revisions.
  • Establish and assess the impact of a High Impact Mentor Training program. STEM faculty members will be trained in culturally-responsive, strengths-based mentoring and student advocacy.
  • Build a culture of inclusive accountability through the appointment of departmental Inclusion Liaisons, and the integration of inclusion plans and assessments in our academic units annual reports.

Progress and Learning

We will annually assess multiple measures of progress, including qualitative data from student, staff, and faculty focus groups; introductory STEM course completion rates; demographics of students engaging in on-campus research and student leadership positions within the natural sciences; and formal assessments of teaching, learning, and student engagement. We will also use a pre-post design and institutional audits in years 1 and 5 to measure changes in inclusion following implementation of our faculty education and mentor training programs. To determine whether second order organizational learning has occurred, we will assess to what extent policy changes in teaching evaluations and departmental assessments incorporate inclusivity best practices.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Program Director: Janet Branchaw

The University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW-Madison) aspires to build guaranteed, inclusive and flexible pathways for STEM students transferring from 2-year Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) institutions to 4-year University of Wisconsin System (UW System) institutions. We will increase the number of successful STEM student transfers through guaranteed admission agreements, tailored transfer student courses and programs, and professional development for faculty and advisors. Collectively, we aim to decrease or eliminate institutional and cultural barriers to transfer student success.

Our project will use a collaborative development approach to leverage the participation and ownership of multiple stakeholders, including faculty, staff, administrators, and students, to create and institutionalize transfer policies and programs. We will apply what is known from research on transfer student success and harness the expertise of colleagues and students from across the UW System and the WTCS. We will establish and seek guidance from an Advisory Board with members from all institutions and we will collect data from our transfer students to identify specific barriers they face and develop policies and sustainable programs to eliminate those barriers.

Specifically, we will:

  • Establish guaranteed admission agreements for WTCS students to transfer and pursue STEM degrees at UW System 4-year institutions. To do this we will first bring disciplinary faculty together from Madison Area Technical College (MATC) and UW-Madison to create “Technical Colleges STEM Pathway Course Packages” that when completed with the minimum GPA requirement will guarantee admission to UW-Madison STEM degree programs. During development we will partner with our Advisory Board members from the UW System and the WTCS to present the agreements to their institutions for vetting, with the ultimate goal of approval and adoption.
  • Prepare students for successful transfer and ensure that they are supported by faculty to completion of their 4-year STEM degree. We will bring faculty experts and student services professionals at UW-Madison and MATC together to collaboratively develop, implement, and evaluate model programs in faculty/advisor professional development and student transfer transition programming. The faculty/advisor programming will be adapted from a successful model program of culturally aware mentoring and the student programming model will adapt existing and develop new sustainable programs and courses to address barriers transfer students face, such as lack of social and cultural capital, cultural differences, financial need, and academic preparation.
  • Continuously evaluate our efforts through ongoing data collection. A team of professional evaluators will collect institutional data to track transfer and graduation rates. Beyond the numbers, we will use surveys, follow-up interviews, and focus groups to evaluate the impact of the faculty/advisor and student development programs. We will measure the extent to which faculty members and advisors are implementing the strategies they learned through participation in professional development, and we will measure the extent to which transfer students are able to successfully navigate challenges and persist to graduation. Importantly, we will also measure whether institutions in Wisconsin, other than MATC and UW-Madison, are able to successfully adopt and sustain the policies and model programs we develop.

Utah State University

Program Director: Alan Savitzky 

Utah State University aspires to build a more inclusive community, where students and faculty of all backgrounds feel welcome and where the academic success is assured for all students. Within this context, USU will establish a program to improve the institutional environment and academic services for students transferring from our two-year campus in Blanding, where over 70% of students are Native American, to the main campus in Logan, where Native Americans comprise only 0.3% of students. With support from the HHMI Inclusive Excellence Program, USU will inaugurate Mentoring and Encouraging Student Academic Success (MESAS), a program designed to reduce existing institutional barriers for the success of these students and to encourage higher numbers of Native students to pursue four-year degrees. MESAS will build upon a summer internship program that has greatly increased the transfer rate from Blanding to Logan. We recognize, however, that those transfer students must be better and differently served if they are to thrive on the larger and less diverse Logan Campus. MESAS is designed to improve the campus environment, academic services, and social support for these students.

MESAS is built upon four pillars of institutional change. First, we will develop and deliver a program of cultural competency training for Logan faculty and staff, to establish a more welcoming and supportive campus environment. The training will address biases that negatively impact student performance by focusing on self-awareness, knowledge, and skills in working across cultures. Second, MESAS will work with the Office of Housing and Residence Life to establish a Native American Living Learning Community. This will provide the option for Native students to enjoy a greater sense of community in Logan, reducing the sense of separation from their families and communities. Cultural programming and social support will be provided to reduce the sense of cultural isolation. Third, MESAS will improve the preparation of Blanding students who plan to pursue a four-year degree in Logan. Because of its history as a two-year campus, essential prerequisites for four-year STEM degrees have historically not been offered in Blanding, placing transfer students at a disadvantage. MESAS will support the development of new and innovative courses and will promote interactions between Logan faculty and Blanding. Finally, MESAS will support a new faculty-level position whose primary responsibilities will be to advocate on behalf of Native American students and monitor their progress, ensuring that they have the academic resources and cultural support required for success.

An integral part of MESAS will be the assessment not only of student success but also of the underlying changes in institutional culture and in faculty attitudes and cross-cultural skills. We believe that the steps taken to improve the success of transfer students from Blanding will strengthen the university generally, by improving the cultural competency of our faculty and demonstrating a tangible commitment to greater inclusiveness. We also believe that addressing the needs of these students in the MESAS program will set the stage for future progress in serving other underrepresented student populations.

Vassar College

Program Director: Jodi Schwarz 

Vassar College embarks on an ambitious interwoven faculty and curriculum development program to enlarge our capacity for inclusive excellence in our campus STEM community by reducing barriers to student success and nurturing an inclusive and equitable learning and research environment. At the heart of the program will be an ongoing series of interdisciplinary collaborative learning clusters centered around Grand Challenges – complex problems of current global concern and pressing social and economic importance, that call for scientific or quantitative analysis.

Each year 3-4 faculty will design an interdisciplinary set of linked freshmen courses all motivated by the topic of the Grand Challenge, as faculty across campus address the Grand Challenge theme from different perspectives and fields of expertise through affiliated courses and mentored student research projects. Ongoing Grand Challenge activities, such as student research symposia, panel discussions, and career- building workshops, will foster an inclusive community of learners and scholars. Each Grand Challenge cluster will engage students and faculty in a three-year cycle of study, research, training, and mentorship, from which participants can emerge as leaders in Vassar's scientific community. The Grand Challenge program will occur in parallel with a faculty development program aimed at supporting faculty as they build equity in the classroom and in their mentorship activities.

This program builds on our tradition of student-centered learning by providing new and exciting ways for faculty and students to come together and work together, starting with the introductory level and continuing through senior thesis work and faculty research collaborations. By establishing a curricular structure that demands diverse perspectives and expertise, and by supporting both faculty and students as they explore ways of building equity within the community, the Grand Challenge program enlarges Vassar’s capacity for inclusive excellence. At the conclusion of the GC program, Vassar faculty and students will experience a STEM community that evolves along with its entire campus community, based in inclusive and equitable practices, and with learning opportunities that allow its diverse members to thrive.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Program Director: Rosalyn Hargraves

The overarching goal of the Virginia Commonwealth University HHMI Inclusive Excellence award is to produce a marked improvement in the academic outcomes for transfer students and by extension first generation and African American, Latinx/Hispanic, and Native American (AALANA) students majoring in STEM disciplines. To do this VCU, John Tyler Community College (JTCC), and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College (Reynolds) are focusing their energies to create broad, inclusive communities among students and faculty in STEM programs. We hypothesize that stronger community structures will increase capacity for student inclusion and thus success. This hypothesis will be tested by implementing the following:

  • Enhance inclusiveness of STEM courses, programs, and teaching of diverse learners. We will adapt VCU’s Institute on Inclusive Teaching (IIT) to have a specific track focused on STEM disciplines, which will provide VCU, JTCC, and Reynolds faculty members a range of opportunities, strategies, and techniques for creating inclusive STEM pedagogy. The IIT-STEM will also be used to build strong faculty communities across VCU, JTCC, and Reynolds. Connecting faculty groups and enhancing the inclusiveness of STEM courses will increase the performance of transfer and AALANA students.
  • Reduce administrative barriers and facilitate a smooth academic and social transition for transfer students. We will develop “Major Maps” and “Guided Pathways” that provide clear plans of study for transfer students. New STEM-specific processes for onboarding transfer students will be created that include workshop series focusing on academic success skills, cohort-building, targeted tracking, and proactive advising in the 1st year at VCU. In addition, administrative changes will be made that support successful transition by reducing administrative barriers and proving clear plans of study, resulting in reduced time to earning a bachelor’s degree and increased academic self-efficacy for transfer students, which in turn increases degree attainment.
  • Build community and cohorts among VCU STEM faculty and students. VCU will create a new Science Learning Center that will serve as the hub of our inclusive teaching endeavors, provide additional learning resources, and science student gathering area. Creating an inclusive space will build community among students and faculty and increase sense of belonging and science identity in students, which in turn increases likelihood of STEM degree attainment.

Throughout the grant period, we will monitor progress toward the goal that transfer and AALANA students reach a comparable level of student success as other STEM students. Community-building milestones will be linked to assessments and surveys monitoring participation, satisfaction, and perceived value of program elements. Assessment will target the learning climate in STEM programs and sense of community experienced by students and faculty. Milestones with respect to transfer roadblocks will focus on DFW and retention rates, and establishing procedural changes that equalize paths for all students.

The HHMI Inclusive Excellence award will position VCU, JTCC, and Reynolds to increase the use of inclusive pedagogy in STEM classes, build the administrative infrastructure for transfer students, and enhance institutional climate to promote student success. We anticipate more than 75 faculty from our institutions and 7,000 students will be impacted.

Wellesley College

Program Director: Megan Núñez

After two years of data analysis and self-examination, we at Wellesley College have realized that the experiences and outcomes of our Latinx, African-American, and 1st generation college students have not improved measurably over the last dozen years. This discovery led to a broader understanding that the context of science learning and socialization is just as critical to student success as the content, and a deeper commitment to enact broad institutional change to create an inclusive, welcoming community that embraces all of its members.

Through Wellesley’s Inclusive Excellence Project, we will address deep-rooted institutional barriers that lead to differential success in our science departments. Recognizing that Wellesley’s most effective route to long- term change lies in changing community attitudes and practices through extensive professional development, this project will first engage faculty, staff, and students in sustained and intensive training in evidence-based research around equity, inclusive pedagogy, cultural competency, stereotype threat, and unconscious bias. Building upon what we have learned, we will then redesign courses and curricula to support diverse learning pathways; re-envision on-campus work as paid, academic-year internships to enhance concrete skills, faculty mentorship, and self-efficacy among students; and build an advising system that connects each student to a coordinated team of skilled professionals from both the academic and student support divisions.

We envision that at the end of the grant period, our faculty will be better trained to work with all students, and incoming faculty will enter into a culture that puts the success and satisfaction of all students at the forefront. Our science curriculum will support students along their individual pathways, enabling more students to persist in STEM and graduate with GPAs and skills that are competitive for top graduate programs. Students will engage in paid work that enhances their education and contributes to their sense of belonging, and they will experience academic advising as a proactive, collaborative mentoring effort across the academic, student life, and career education divisions.

Ongoing evaluation and assessment efforts will let us measure our success in realizing this vision. Activities will include student surveys, focus groups, and senior exit interviews with new or refined questions to collect data relevant to our project goals. Individualized assessments for newly-developed courses will measure students’ skills acquisition and progress toward goals. Faculty will be surveyed throughout the grant period to evaluate shifts in attitudes and practices. The core project team and Wellesley’s professional assessment staff will meet regularly to evaluate project components to determine the success of its outputs and outcomes, allowing us to make necessary adjustments or improvements.

Evaluation and assessment efforts will help us to determine holistically whether we are succeeding in making our Science Center a more welcoming place for all students, why, and/or why not. Results will inform adjustments to project design throughout the grant period. Wellesley is committed to promoting excellence in all areas of the College, and lessons learned from our program activities will be shared with other programs and departments. By the end of the grant period, we plan that these conversations and evaluations will become institutionalized to ensure that Wellesley continues to improve.

Wheaton College (MA)

Program Director: Meg Kirkpatrick

The past five years at Wheaton College represent a welcome period of intentional change and growth, and efforts to increase both the size and diversity of our student body have led to multiple record-breaking recruitment years. The current student body represents not only the largest in the college’s history but also includes a greater number of first-generation and domestic students of color than ever before. This influx of students also brings an increase in the number of students interested in STEM. Yet, growth in STEM participation is inconsistent across all student groups. Rates of engagement in STEM have stagnated for first- generation students and domestic students of color (a population we have determined to be our new majority or NM) as compared to other student groups at Wheaton. Recent data suggest that a focus on inclusive pedagogies and new approaches in introductory courses at Wheaton has the potential to increase the participation and engagement of NM students in STEM.

The Wheaton Inclusive STEM Excellence (WISE) initiative aims to improve student outcomes related to engagement, performance and persistence in STEM and to create a more welcoming STEM community for all students, especially students from the NM, through five primary activities:

  1. understanding the Wheaton STEM student experience and identifying and removing barriers to student success by engaging in intentional and continuous assessment activities;
  2. creating an innovative, collaborative campus-wide leadership team supporting inclusive excellence in STEM;
  3. engaging STEM faculty in division-wide professional development;
  4. promoting evidence-based curricular reform focused on inclusive pedagogies in all STEM departments; and
  5. empowering STEM Student Leaders through peer mentoring, leadership training and campus-based internships with college partners.

With support from HHMI, the WISE initiative will improve the impact of STEM education at Wheaton for all students and increase the capacity for inclusive excellence campus-wide. An initial year of professional development will serve as a catalyst for subsequent self-examination and transformation processes. Wheaton STEM faculty will engage in discipline-specific pedagogical inquiry to create student-centered programmatic innovations that can be built upon for years to come. The activities proposed will not rely solely on the investment of the STEM faculty, but will also succeed due to cross-campus collaborations that will create new opportunities to address institutional barriers to student success. WISE student internships will connect NM STEM students with partners across campus. Together, all of the program components will work together to create lasting institutional change.

Realizing the goals of improving student outcomes related to engagement, performance and persistence in STEM will only result from creating a more welcoming STEM community for all students. The WISE initiative will transform teaching and learning in STEM to create a true culture of inclusion that will serve as a model of excellence for other areas of the college. Through a deliberate and comprehensive approach to promoting inclusive excellence in STEM, the WISE initiative aims to leave an immediate and lasting imprint on Wheaton College that will serve as a template for ongoing, campus-wide innovation that will lead to a more fully inclusive education for all our students.