Undergraduate Education Program

Grant Abstracts 2014

California State University, Long Beach

Young Seok Shon
Long Beach, CA
$500,000
December 2014

Discovery and characterization of novel energy-related materials are critical to meeting future energy and technology needs of society.  Preparing a diverse student population for 21st century STEM fields, and for materials sciences particularly, requires integrating cutting-edge technologies and emerging methods across disciplines in both curricular and laboratory research experiences.  The Keck Energy Materials Research Program at California State University, Long Beach will create a new interdisciplinary educational program that is explicitly integrated with engagement in energy materials research by undergraduate students and their faculty mentors.  The program will expand instrumentation critical for energy-related materials research opportunities, engage students in collaborative interdisciplinary research with faculty of distinct yet complementary expertise, and support the development of interdisciplinary courses essential for launching a new degree option in materials science that bridges the departments of chemistry and physics.  The program aims to develop into a nationally significant model for enhancing education in materials science at the undergraduate level.

California State University, Sacramento

Thomas Landerholm
Sacramento, CA
$300,000
December 2014

The department of biological sciences at California State University, Sacramento proposes to engage nearly 2,000 undergraduate students annually in authentic scientific research by embedding research experiences in course laboratories.  The Sustainable Interdisciplinary Research to Inspire Undergraduate Success (SIRIUS) Project will develop, integrate and link research-based curriculum across twelve existing laboratory courses.  Utilizing inquiry-based pedagogy with state-of-the-art technology, students will research a real-world problem that is relevant to the region: the human impacts on northern California’s American River ecosystem.  To enhance the interdisciplinary nature of their experiences, students will gather, analyze and share data across courses as diverse as ecology, genetics, and cell biology.  This learning and research experience will support a high-quality, well-rounded college education for the 21st Century scientific workforce.  This model is replicable across disciplines and to other geographic regions with their own scientific challenges.  The SIRIUS Project leverages funding from multiple sources and the current proposal will provide communication technology and research equipment to be utilized in re-designed laboratories.  It will also support developing a strategy for assessing student learning and attitudes for the new activities.

Mount St. Mary's College

Kim Middleton
Los Angeles, CA
$500,000
December 2014

Mount St. Mary’s College intends to design and implement an interdisciplinary, comprehensive undergraduate research program that connects to the College’s general education curriculum.  Evidence shows that early student exposure to research experiences as an undergraduate is associated with improved outcomes, particularly for students from underserved populations.  The College seeks to ensure that the entire diverse undergraduate student body benefits from access to research through a variety of initiatives such as new and revised courses, research-focused workshops and presentations, and a summer undergraduate research program.  Faculty development is an integral part of the program and will provide training on effective student research mentorship, faculty mentorship opportunities, and the chance to revise and create new courses that include research components.  This multi-faceted program will be overseen by the director of the center for academic innovation and creativity and a faculty undergraduate research coordinator, along with a four-member advisory panel consisting of key College faculty from across the liberal arts and sciences.  Successful implementation of this program will mean that undergraduates receive exposure to research fundamentals regardless of their major, and will grow as students, researchers, and citizen leaders.

Portland State University

Corey Griffin
Portland, OR
$300,000
December 2014

The Research-based Design Teaching Laboratory (RDTL) at Portland State University will provide undergraduate students in architecture and engineering courses the tools to study and advance building science through hands-on research.  The overall goal of the RDTL is to achieve a more rapid integration of green building strategies, materials and systems by conducting student-led simulations or post-occupancy analysis of existing buildings and applying this research to projects currently under design through collaboration with professional practitioners.  Over three and a half years, at least nine faculty members will be trained as “RDTL Fellows” to use the equipment and will be provided support to develop research-based design teaching modules.  The principal investigator will also launch two new, interdisciplinary courses making extensive use of the RDTL.  This project will reach an average of 200 students annually and generate critical building science research for professional practice.  This project is significant as buildings are the single largest contributor of CO2 emissions and use more primary energy than any other sector in the United States.  Arguably, nothing is more important for addressing climate change than having universities accelerate their teaching of these principles and practices. The RDTL aspires to be a national beacon for what this acceleration could look like.

Southwestern University

Maria Cuevas
Georgetown, TX
$300,000
December 2014

Southwestern University proposes to integrate the complex, multidisciplinary field of molecular biology across its undergraduate curriculum from introductory courses to capstone and research projects.  Faculty from biology, ecology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, and psychology will work together in two interlinked objectives: (1) Fostering inquiry-based laboratory courses across the science disciplines using molecular biological approaches and techniques, and (2) Enhancing student faculty collaborative research opportunities during the summer and academic year by developing student and faculty research projects in molecular biology across the spectrum of the life sciences.  The project will educate the next generation of life scientists and enhance knowledge in multiple fields.  Currently, molecular biology equipment at Southwestern is dispersed across individual faculty labs and disciplinary clusters.  As construction begins on a new science center, this project will enable formation of a molecular biology center within the new building that concentrates shared equipment for molecular investigations in one multi-purpose center.  This shared space will support the application of molecular techniques throughout the curriculum, avoiding the duplication of costly equipment and promoting cross-disciplinary thinking and exploration.

University of Colorado, Boulder

Derek Briggs, Robert Talbot, Jenny Knight
Boulder, CO
$300,000
December 2014

Concept Inventories are written to assess undergraduate student understanding of canonical “big picture” ideas in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering.  However, the inferences about student learning that Concept Inventories can support have not been systematically studied.  This project will examine the relationship between student performance on a recently developed Concept Inventory, the Genetics Concept Assessment, relative to performance on newly developed open-response items and locally developed end-of-course exams.  Instructors teaching introductory genetics at eight different undergraduate institutions will participate, with student enrollments ranging from a low of 25 to a high of about 400.  Using a pre-post design the team plans to examine the alignment of the Genetics Concept Assessment with local exams and newly developed open-response items by comparing student learning gains within and across participating classrooms.  This work will help instructors think about the quality of their local assessment items and the relationship between those items and the Genetics Concept Assessment.  In addition, the team will generate a set of recommendations for the development and validation of new Concept Inventories across all disciplines.

Austin College

Stephanie Gould
Sherman, TX
$250,000
June 2014

The goal of Austin College’s Science Teaching and Research (STAR) Leadership Program is to provide undergraduate students in the sciences with highly developed leadership skills.  The STAR Leadership Program embraces the liberal arts tradition by maintaining that leadership behaviors should be taught and practiced through complete integration into the academic disciplines rather than as a separate course of study.  This project strives to engage all science students in the study and practice of leadership in their personal and professional lives, and to promote personal, team and organizational effectiveness in the laboratory and classroom.  Austin College specifically seeks to implement the first phase of the program by integrating the STAR Leadership curriculum in the biology and chemistry departments.  By the end of this project, 80% of chemistry and biology faculty at Austin College will be part of the STAR Leadership Program and 50% of all Austin College students will have taken one or more classes using this curriculum.  This program lays the foundation for successful professional careers and the leadership roles after graduation.

California Baptist University

Mark Anklam
Riverside, CA
$250,000
June 2014

A team at California Baptist University seeks to develop innovative laboratory experiences as well as standard lab projects in its new chemical engineering program.  Equipment for a state-of-the-art lab will be purchased to enable undergraduate laboratory projects in the areas of sustainable technologies (clean energy and C02 removal) and health-related technologies (clean water and particulates).  These projects include reverse osmosis, fuel cells, absorption to remove C02, adsorption to remove impurities from water, and solids handling as would be encountered in many industries.  They will allow undergraduate students in chemical engineering and in some cases other engineering majors, to apply their knowledge of engineering fundamentals in areas or in ways that are not always covered in required laboratory experiences.  This allows students to not only get experience in current, relevant engineering applications, but it also prepares them to gain experience with the concept of life-long learning.

California State University System

Judy Botelho, Ken O'Donnell, Elaine Ikeda, Rebecca Eddy, Cathy Avila-Linn
Long Beach, CA
$500,000
June 2014

A research study undertaken by the Center for Community Engagement in the California State University, Office of the Chancellor and California Campus Compact, a statewide service-learning organization, will document the impact of STEM service-learning (SL) courses on common measures of student academic achievement, career development, and civic engagement.  A mixed-method study of quantitative and qualitative data will uncover the essential elements of high quality SL present in participating courses, determine if SL in STEM disciplines has a positive impact on student success in terms of academic achievement, career development, and civic engagement, and determine if there are differential outcomes for students depending on the quality of the SL course experience.  These SL experiences will allow students to acquire technical skills, increase awareness of STEM careers, and improve attitudes around STEM and civic engagement.  In turn, the SL experiences contribute to the CSU’s long-term vision of preparing a STEM workforce in California equipped with a variety of 21st century skills.

Chapman University

Janeen Hill
Orange, CA
$1,000,000
June 2014

Since 2008, Chapman’s College of Science and Technology has undergone rapid growth in both undergraduate students and faculty.  The current science building housing lab sciences is far too small and old to accommodate rapid growth and support the new technologies common to undergraduate teaching labs.  Although all undergraduate programs have been affected by growth and aging infrastructure, chemistry and biochemistry have been particularly hard hit.  Space has constrained the number of instruments that are available for chemistry and biochemistry undergraduate teaching laboratories and for student research, while the infrastructure has limited the types of modern instruments the building can support.  To address these issues, Chapman University has committed to build a state-of-the-art 140,000 square foot science and technology center to open during the 2018-2019 academic year.  The current request will facilitate the purchase of chemistry and biochemistry instruments that will transform the quality of undergraduate teaching, learning, and research in the College.  The availability of new technology will activate revisions in course syllabi and learning outcomes to reflect the enhanced undergraduate learning and research labs.

University of Portland

Heather Dillon
Portland, OR
$250,000
June 2014

A team at the University of Portland seeks to improve how students learn particular aspects of mechanical engineering laboratory courses across the full four-year curriculum using evidence-based instruction methods.  The project will use modern pedagogical methods – inquiry-based learning and backward design – to create laboratory modules that meet learning objectives rather than have students “cook” with recipes as in most conventional labs.  The project will be used to benchmark current teaching practice at the University, achieve institutional transformation for STEM laboratory courses, and be presented widely to encourage mechanical engineering programs at other institutions to adopt the new modules.  The broader impact will be improved retention and problem solving skill for students, and provision of a mechanism for continuous improvement in lab courses based on scientific method and assessment.

Gonzaga University

Jeff Watson
Spokane, WA
$250,000
June 2014

The benefits of undergraduate research are many, for the student and the institution.  As universities seek to increase access to undergraduate research, they quickly run into a lack of space, money and faculty mentors to effectively provide these experiences.  A team at Gonzaga University seeks to show how their “linked experimental system” model can overcome these limitations.  This model links multiple teaching laboratory courses through a common experimental system.  In doing so it promotes multidisciplinary learning, provides an extended time frame over which to accomplish a scientific study, and offers the ability to learn from and expand upon the work of previous cohorts of students.  All of these replicate many aspects of a research laboratory and are not characteristic of traditional teaching laboratories.  To fully develop this pilot model and expand it to other areas of the curriculum, the team will acquire scientific equipment and complete and expand the materials necessary for a robust experimental system.  They will also host faculty workshops, first in the initiating departments of biology and chemistry, and later across the Gonzaga campus.

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