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Catalysts for Achieving Sustained Improvement in the Quality of Undergraduate STEM Education

Promoting excellence in undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education at major research universities is necessary to ensure that we have the STEM-literate workforce and general population required to propel the nation forward into the twenty-first century and beyond. This essay, written by Mary Sue Coleman, Tobin Smith, and Emily R. Miller provides a brief contextual history of the Association of American Universities’ (AAU) effort to improve the effectiveness of undergraduate STEM education at member campuses and delineates the specific goals of this initiative. The essay then illuminates the essential role of the academic department and department chair in achieving long-lasting change and improving the quality of undergraduate education. It also discusses critical strategies and approaches for promoting the most effective methods for undergraduate STEM teaching and learning, with numerous examples from AAU member universities. The essay concludes with an acknowledgment of key challenges and opportunities that continue to face undergraduate education at research universities.

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