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AAU Receives NSF Grant to Study How AAU STEM Teaching Initiative is Producing Educational Change at Member Campuses

The Association of American Universities (AAU) has received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to examine the role a national association can play in expanding reform efforts aimed at improving the quality of undergraduate teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at its member institutions. The grant was awarded by the NSF “Improving Undergraduate STEM Education” (IUSE) program in the Education and Human Resources Directorate.

In 2011, AAU launched a five-year initiative to influence the culture of STEM departments at AAU institutions so that faculty members are encouraged to use “evidence-based” teaching practices, and are given training and other support to do so. Evidence-based practices are those proven by research to be more effective in helping students learn and in better engaging students in STEM disciplines. They generally provide for less classroom time spent on lectures and more on student engagement with faculty and hands-on work.

The three-year, $600,000 grant from NSF will enable AAU to examine its own role in effecting change on campuses and improve understanding of how a major national association can promote and scale systemic campus education reforms.

“We are very pleased with the extraordinary progress being made on our campuses with the help of the AAU STEM teaching initiative,” said AAU President Hunter Rawlings. “With this grant, we hope that the AAU initiative can not only effect change on campuses, as it is already doing, but demonstrate more broadly how national higher education associations can in fact encourage and help create educational change at member institutions.”

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The Association of American Universities is an association of 59 U.S. and two Canadian research universities organized to develop and implement effective national and institutional policies supporting research and scholarship, graduate and professional education, undergraduate education, and public service in research universities.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…" With an annual budget of about $7.0 billion (FY 2012), it is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.