University of South Florida

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CAS Chronicles

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Steering the Course: Implementing Research-based Practices to Promote Student Success in STEM

In late August 67 STEM faculty from USF and Hillsborough Community College gathered for a workshop/luncheon to celebrate their teaching successes and to extend the vision for future improvements. This was the culminating event of a 7-year 3-million-dollar NSF-IUSE project (Systemic Transformation of Education through Evidence-based Reforms, or STEER,) whose goal was changing the culture of STEM teaching so that evidence-based teaching (EBT) is both expected and the norm in STEM courses at the University of South Florida (USF) and our community college partner, Hillsborough Community College (HCC). The expected outcomes would be an increased number of STEM degrees including more granted to underrepresented groups Grant funded initiatives included workshops on effective teaching, departmental retreats, peer observation programs, course redesigns, learning communities, virtual faculty teaching conversations, teaching assistant training, along with travel awards to present teaching related success at conferences and recognition of 17 STEER scholars for their role in implementing and championing evidence-based inclusive teaching. 

During the event, leadership from The Coalition for Science Literacy and the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning solicited advice from   faculty on what is needed to continue the progress in teaching excellence.

Through STEER, USF and HCC successfully partnered to increase the sustainable use of EBT across STEM programs. Engagement from faculty and instructional change continued to develop over the course of the project.

At the university, 49% (187/381) of College of Engineering and School of Natural Science and Mathematics faculty have engaged in at least one initiative (26% in more than one). At HCC, 46% (39/85) of science and math faculty participated. Engagements span all levels of faculty rank, (52 professors, 40 associate professors, 20 assistant professors and, 59 professors of instruction). Of note, over the project period of STEER, the total number and % of STEM degrees have increased from 2217, (24%) to 2961 (30%), while degrees to underrepresented groups have increased by 245, and held steady at 30%, major goals of STEER.

The Coalition for Science Literacy and the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning will continue to bring STEM faculty together to promote the use of inclusive, student-centered teaching methods. We wish to acknowledge the STEER leadership team for their contributions to the project.

Robert Potter with group

The STEER Leadership Team

  • Robert Potter, Sr. Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Chemistry, PI
  • Peter Stiling, Professor of Biology; co-PI
  • Hikmat BC, Associate Dean, Math and Sciences at Hillsborough Community College, co-PI
  • Catherine Beneteau, Professor of Mathematics
  • Scott Campbell, Professor of Chemical Engineering
  • Tim Henkel, Director, USF Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, Associate Professor of Biology  
  • Ruthmae Sears, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education 

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About CAS Chronicles

CAS Chronicles is the monthly newsletter for the University of South Florida's College of Arts and Sciences, your source for the latest news, research, and events at CAS.