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STEM Status Report: AAU STEM Project Sites

Central to the project site reforms was the role of the academic department and its faculty members.

Seed-funding was awarded to eight AAU member project sites (Brown University; Michigan State University; The University of Arizona; University of California, Davis; University of Colorado Boulder; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; University of Pennsylvania; and Washington University in St. Louis) to implement reforms that address the core elements of the Framework and specific challenges facing their campus in undergraduate STEM education.

  • Over three academic years, the eight STEM Project Sites have engaged 39 departments, reformed 162 courses, involved 230 faculty members and 1,676 learning assistants (graduate and undergraduate), and transformed STEM courses for 138,531 student-seats.
  • Project sites reported trends toward improved learning gains, decreased failure rates, improved persistence from introductory to later courses, and narrowing achievement gaps especially for women, under-represented minorities, and first-generation college students.
  • All project sites increased the number of courses targeted for reform based on evidence-based pedagogy, and increased the number of faculty members  (tenure-track and non-tenure track) participating. One-half of project sites expanded their reach to additional departments which were not originally included in their proposals. One-half of project sites developed and disseminated common tools used to assess teaching and instruction. Additionally, several project sites linked co-curricular activities with reformed courses to increase retention in STEM majors.
  • Across the eight project sites, use of graduate and undergraduate assistants in active learning classes more than doubled, from 740 to 1,676, during the three years of the AAU project. Inclusion of undergraduate and graduate students in instructional roles has benefits for institutions at the level of the course or section. With more trained individuals in the room, the capacity to facilitate and evaluate evidence-based pedagogy increases.

The experience also benefits the students themselves by reinforcing core concepts and helping them to learn effective teaching practices.