STEM Institute inaugural symposium introduces founding faculty fellows, showcases research

The STEM Transformation Founding Faculty Fellows were formally introduced at the institute’s inaugural symposium. Dubbed STEMposium, this yearly event provides a forum to discuss STEM education reform, research and best practices.

This first cohort of faculty fellows for the institute is comprised of 70 innovative education project leaders and key advocates of improving learning and research representing several colleges and schools at FIU.

The fellows program is another way the institute is responding to the national charge of producing 100,000 new STEM teachers and an additional 1 million STEM professionals by 2020.

This first STEMposium showcased the ongoing STEM education efforts at FIU, including a poster session of discipline-based education research by faculty and students. Additionally, the event included a diverse panel of undergraduate Learning Assistants (LAs) who shared their experiences and talked about the impact of the Learning Assistant program on student achievement. Last fall, 168 LAs helped to mentor and teach more than 6,300 students in 98 course sections that semester.

The symposium’s keynote address featured former Editor-in-Chief of the journal Science, Bruce Alberts. He is the Chancellor’s Leadership Chair in Biochemistry and Biophysics for Science and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. A prominent scientist and education advocate, Alberts is a National Medal of Science awardee and served two six-year terms as the President of the National Academy of Sciences.

During his tenure at NAS, Alberts was instrumental in developing the landmark National Science Education standards that have been implemented in school systems nationwide. “The type of ‘science as inquiry’ teaching we need emphasizes logical, hands-on problem solving, and it insists on having evidence for claims that can be confirmed by others,” Alberts said. “It requires work in cooperative groups, where those with different types of talents can discover them – developing self confidence and an ability to communicate effectively with others.”

The STEM Transformation Institute Fellows will collaborate on innovative STEM education research and implement evidence-based instructional approaches like those Alberts advocates for in STEM courses.

“Our goal is to bring evidence-based instruction to the classroom, so that our students can succeed as we carry out research,” FIU Provost Kenneth G. Furton said.

The objective of the institute and the fellows program is to improve student retention and pass rates ultimately having a direct impact on the university’s performance metrics.