topSkip to main content

Menu, Secondary

Menu Trigger


STEM Project Site: University of California, Davis

University of California, Davis Goals & Objectives:

The AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative project at the University of California, Davis works to promote an institutional culture that utilizes data and evidence-based pedagogical innovations to make informed educational decisions and continually improve classroom instruction and student outcomes.

Through the creation and implementation of a data analytics infrastructure that consists of newly developed tools and visualizations, student data and classroom instructional data are being used to inform and improve instruction, assessments, curricula, student advisement, and student retention.

Ongoing course reforms and educational experiments utilizing analytical tools are occurring in introductory biology, chemistry, and mathematics courses, and the development of new data-based educational experiments has spread to other departments.

To sustain momentum for these efforts on campus, an annual interdisciplinary Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference was founded for instructors engaged in conducting evidence-based educational experiments to share their work. Moreover, the campus project team shares the analytical tools and visualizations they have developed with other interested universities. This collaboration helps to refine existing tools and contributes to the creation of new tools and evidence-based approaches for improving instruction and student outcomes.

University of California, Davis Change Model:

Over time, UC Davis shifted from a top-down change model with student outcomes data seen as the impetus for reform to a more active strategy with project leaders actively participating in the change process.

One part of this new strategy was the consolidation of several activities into a new Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE), which now combines the collection of data about teaching reforms with an administrative and policy effort to encourage adoption of new teaching approaches. The data collection supported by the CEE continues to focus on institution-wide and widely disseminated instruments—e.g., ribbon charts on student progress—which enables leaders at the departmental, college, and university levels to follow changes in student progress and learning.

In addition, the CEE increasingly is sponsoring the collection of more complex data about student learning outcomes (e.g., higher order thinking skills) whose focus is more on instructors and their academic programs. These additional data are in part an effort to merge bottom-up, faculty-led reforms with university-level information about student trends.

UC Davis does an excellent job of tracking the resources that support each of its key activities. The campus project team pools resources to meet project (and CEE) goals rather than assigning distinct funding sources to unique project activities. The AAU project from the beginning has targeted linchpin courses for reform—those with the largest enrollments and greatest number of majors dependent on them (e.g., General Chemistry).

UC Davis has spent considerable time in exporting its data tools to other universities—more than 100 other institutions currently use either the ribbon chart or Generalized Observation and Reflection Protocol (GORP) tool.