Category Archives: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Center

Dr. Karl Smith Presents at December CUE Meeting

Dr. Karl Smith, Co-Director of the STEM Education Center, presented at the Council for Undergraduate Education meeting held December 2nd at Walter Library.

Topics of discussion included the STEM Education Grand Challenge Proposal submitted by Dr. Smith and colleagues as well as feedback from the recent AAU STEM Conference held on October 13th-14th in St. Louis, MO. The STEM Education Center Communications Coordinator, Kelly Auxier, attended the AAU conference on behalf of the University and provided notes and feedback for the CUE meeting.

The Council for Undergraduate Education, formerly the Council of Undergraduate Deans, was formed to bring people together across the University to share information and recommendations on University initiatives in undergraduate education.

An agenda and presentation materials of the December CUE meeting are available at the CUE website.

Dr. Karl Smith highlighted as pioneer in engineering education

The Engineering Education Pioneers project recently highlighted Dr. Karl Smith, executive co-director of the STEM Education Center, on his lifetime achievements and visions for the future of engineering education.

The Engineering Education Pioneers project is focused on highlighting past change efforts in engineering education to forge the path for ongoing transformation in the field. A major project activity is to spotlight successful leaders and change agents in engineering education.

Dr. Smith’s profile is an extensive and enlightening look at his career path with many words of wisdom peppered throughout. Besides his own personal journey, Dr. Smith shares his ideas on where the world of engineering education could do better and where it will go in the future. Concluding with the following statement,

“People in my generation have done what we can, and I think now its up to the next generation to advance the community.”

Dr. Karl Smith encapsulates his profile by passing the torch to future educators who can learn from his experience to help advance the field of engineering education.

Read the full profile on the Engineering Education Pioneers website.

STEM Education Center Faculty Feature- Dr. Barbara Billington

BillingtonB-2012Bright sunlight streams into her office. Plants and family photos line the windowsill while books and binders fill the shelves. Dr. Billington is diligently typing at her computer but just above her screen is a beautiful view of the St. Paul Campus. She takes a second to look up and daydream of her next chance to mentor students in their own classrooms.

Dr. Billington is a former science education student of the University of Minnesota under the guidance of Dr. Fred Finley. While teaching biology in a local high school, Dr. Finley contacted Barbara to fill a mentorship position for science education student teachers back at her Alma matter. It didn’t take long for Dr. Billington to enjoy her new position.

“What I have found so inspirational about working at the University is the students I work with”- Dr.  Billington

Along with Dr. Fred Finley, Gillian Roehrig has been a big influence for Dr. Billington. Barbara is also involved in broader higher education circles to learn what is occurring in schools like Hamline, Bethel or St. Catherine’s. Dr. Billington is happy to learn that the STEM Education Center program is a unique and strong partner within the community. She is proud of the space she works in and appreciates the conversations and collaborations that the STEM Education Center supports.

“It is not just the space, but the concept of the center. It is a great place to work and to come to”- Dr. Billington.

Besides her academic work, Dr. Billington is collaborating on a new three-year National Science Foundation grant with Twin Cities Public Television. This project focuses on providing professional development to teachers in career and technical education. Barbara Billington is also working on a second grant that is developing online games focused on STEM education.

Like many of her colleagues, Dr. Billington’s hopes and concerns for the future of STEM Education are grand and challenging. Her personal philosophy about the future of STEM Education involves major systemic and political changes as well as a coherent understanding of what STEM Education means in practice in order to truly teach integrated STEM Education. However, Dr. Billington is enthusiastic. Her partnerships across University departments, conversations with fellow colleagues, and continued fieldwork with student teachers makes her excited to continue advancing the field of STEM Education.

Dr. Billington’s optimism is encouraging and contagious. She is always a positive presence in the STEM Education Center and a delight to get to know. I was a surprise to learn that Dr. Billington is a published poet after studying abroad in Australia through an interdisciplinary English and marine biology program.

The STEM Education Center is lucky to have such a valuable colleague whose passion for mentorship is so inspiring.

The STEM Education Center Welcomes Erin Baldinger- Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education

While crowds of eager St. Fair goers flood the streets of St. Paul campus, Erin Baldinger is hard at work preparing for her first year as the new Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the STEM Education Center.

ErinBaldingerFor her first semester as C&I faculty, Erin Baldinger will teach MTHE 5021- Algebraic Structures in School Mathematics and begin researching the role of college-level math content courses in preparing secondary math teachers. Dr. Baldinger will also work with colleagues around investigating supports for novice teachers to engage in high-leverage instructional practices.

Mathematics became a strong interest of Erin’s while in high school. During her undergraduate experience at Tufts University Erin was required to complete a wide range of courses but always found herself registering for mathematics classes. Erin graduated with a degree in mathematics and her equal interest in teaching led her to purse a position as a middle school mathematics teacher.

During her three years as a middle school mathematics teacher, Erin began to formulate questions around her experience. This led her to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics education from Stanford University where she focused on teacher education and preparation in mathematics at the high school level.

Erin is happy to be a part of the STEM Education Center where she can work with her science colleagues to make science, technology, engineering and math accessible for as many students as possible.

“I was actually really excited about the program here and to be a part of the STEM Center that brings those things together and has collaboration and a prominence in the community”, says Erin, “I am excited about the partnerships we have with the local schools. The teaching I am already doing involves meeting with students in their classroom where I can see what is happening and we can talk about their experiences back in class.”

Her first year goals at the STEM Education Center include connecting with activities in the center, building relationships with colleagues, and getting to know the students. So far her first impressions have been welcoming.

Born and raised in Minnesota, this new chapter in Erin’s career is very much a homecoming. Her summer was spent moving back to St. Paul from Arizona where she held her first faculty position at ASU. Along the way, Erin stopped in Santa Fe, Oklahoma City, and Kansas City. She is now settling in and looking to join a klezmer band where she can continue her passion of playing the trombone.

The STEM Education Center is happy to welcome Erin Baldinger to the team and looks forward to her many successes to come!

Dr. Julie Brown shares STEM Vision in CEHD 2020 Vision Blog

Dr. Julie Brown from the STEM Education Center shares her vision of STEM Education and her goals to design and test solutions to the problem of equity and access to STEM Education for all students. Read Dr. Brown’s encouraging story here- http://cehdvision2020.umn.edu/cehd-blog/culturally-responsive-stem-education/

STEM Education Center presents at East China Normal University

In May 2015, Dr. Jia-Ling Lin, research scientist from the STEM Education Center, and Prof. Tamara Moore (the former co-director of the STEM Education Center, now associate professor at the Purdue University) presented two lecture series in the East China Normal University (ECNU), awarded by the Lectureship for the Division of the International Courses for Graduate Students of ECNU: “Foundations of Precollege Integrated STEM Education” (Moore) & “Discourse Analysis and Nature of Dialogic Inquiry in STEM Education” (Lin).

In 2014, Prof. Moore and Dr. Lin were invited to become distinctive oversea professors for the Collaborative Innovation Center for National Education Policy-making (CICNEP), following the STEM Center delegation visit to the ECNU in spring 2013. Members of the delegation included Prof. Karl Smith, the center co-director, Prof. Moore, and Dr. Lin. The delegation was received by the Vice President of the ECNU, Dr. Ren Youqun, who expressed interests in establishing and developing collaborations with UMN.

Prepare2Nspire2 awarded two-year College Ready grant to boost high school math instruction

The University of Minnesota was one of nine colleges and community-based organizations that received a 2015-17 College Ready grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation. Nearly $528,000 will fund two full years of rigorous mathematics tutoring/mentoring for a cohort of 100 Minneapolis area high school students who are entering their junior year.

“The lack of academic preparation among college freshmen is a persistent problem we are determined to address,” said Richard D. George, Great Lakes president and chief executive officer. “The goal of our new College Ready grant is to learn whether and how an additional year of support and instruction can move even more students closer to college readiness—before they arrive on campus.”

Prepare2Nspire2 is an innovative, cascading, multi-grade mathematics tutoring and mentoring opportunity that includes advanced algebra, pre-calculus, and calculus. As University undergraduate students are tutoring and mentoring eleventh-grade algebra 2 students in the program, the eleventh-grade cohort is tutoring and mentoring eighth-grade algebra students.

lesa
Lesa Clarkson

Dr. Lesa Covington Clarkson, associate professor of mathematics education in the University’s College of Education and Human Development, has a history of working with diverse populations at urban schools in the Twin Cities.

“Too often, underrepresented students aren’t served in our urban classrooms,” she said, “This program will provide additional time and tools to support students in their mathematics learning.”

Every student profits from this model, according to Clarkson. Undergraduate and eleventh-grade tutors are developing mathematics communication and reasoning skills as they explain content in which they are recently engaged, and at the same time they are developing roots in mathematics that are fundamental to their current study. High school and middle school participants are receiving individualized tutoring and mentoring services designed to meet their unique challenges in the mathematics content studied. Simultaneously, grade-level skills will be continually addressed through mini lessons at weekly meetings.

Great Lakes’ two-year College Ready grants, totaling $4.2 million, were awarded to nine colleges and community-based organizations in Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin through 2017. Their established programs will expand to help more than 800 high school students reach college readiness benchmarks on the ACT or ACCUPLACER tests.

Wyberg and Billington Featured in Fall Issue of Connect

STEM Education Center Teaching Specialists, Terry Wyberg and Barbara Billington are featured in the fall issue of the CEHD Connect Magazine for their excellent work with CEHD’s Teacher Education Redesign Initiative (TERI).

TERI is a year-long collaboration between select elementary schools and CEHD Teaching Specialist designed to a provide professional development to teachers in the participating schools, to expand the Teacher Specialist’s experience in elementary education and specialty areas, and to ultimately enhance the quality of education for K-6 students and teacher candidates across grade-school to university settings.

Both Barbara Billington and Terry Wyberg committed half of every school day for the year to working in their partner classrooms. Billington was partnered with a science specialist at Linwood Monroe Arts Plus in St. Paul while Wyberg worked at Barton Open School in Minneapolis.

The experience proved rewarding for both parties “I’ll help him with the math, but then we’ll work together with the pedagogy,” says Wyberg. “It’s been a nice connection for both of us.” Barbara Billington plans to invite her co-teacher to guest teach her UofMN methods class next year.

Billington and Wyberg express their gratitude to the college, TERI, and their department for the support and opportunity to work side by side with their co-teachers. They look forward to starting this school year with their new knowledge and understanding of effective elementary education.

Karl Smith invited to talk at American Association of Physics Teachers Meeting

Karl Smith gave an invited talk at the 2015 Summer Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers at their meeting in College Park, Maryland on July 28, 2015.

The Session was Research on Teamwork, and his talk with titled Teamwork: Insights from 40 Years of Research and Practice.

Systematic research on teamwork (or groupwork as it is referred to by many researchers) has been conducted for well over 40 years. I started experimenting with cooperative learning in my engineering classes in the early 70s. Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other’s learning. High performance teamwork is at the heart of effective use of cooperative learning. I’ll summarize key findings of the research that informed the implementation of cooperative learning as well as the development of Teamwork and project management, now in its 4th edition. As physics instruction shifts to an increasing use of challenge-based learning (e.g., problem based, SCALE-UP, inquiry based, etc.) understanding and implementing effective teamwork is essential.

AAPT Summer Conference 2015
Session EK: Research on Teamwork
Smith – Teamwork: Insights from 40 years of Research and Practice [Smith-AAPT-Teamwork-v7.pdf]

STEM Education Center Recommends a New STEM Resource

The STEM Education Center would like to recommend a new resource for its STEM community members!  www.mn-stem.com is a website designed by the Minnesota Department of Education to provide links to STEM resources and activities for families, teachers, advocates and businesses. Check it out now!

EngrTEAMS Highlighted in Start Engineering Newsletter

Congratulations to the EngrTEAMS project for their mention in the latest Start Engineering newsletter. Start Engineering is a learning resources company dedicated to inspiring and engaging children from elementary to high school about engineering. Their newsletter highlights engineering education activities from a variety of sources from business to universities. For more information about the EngrTEAMS project, read here.

Dr. Julie Brown to Receive Rising Star Faculty Award

Congratulations to Dr. Julie Brown, Assistant Professor of Science Education-C&I and STEM Education Center colleague for receiving the 2015 Rising Star Faculty Award from the CEHD Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle. Dr. Brown will receive the award at the Circle’s annual recognition ceremony on Tuesday, June 16th at the Town and Country Club in St. Paul.

The Rising Star Award recognizes a pre-tenure female faculty member in the College of Education and Human Development who has demonstrated leadership and creativity in an academic area as show by research, teaching, and service. This award requires a nomination process with a detailed letter describing the nominee’s qualifications as well as a letter from the nominee describing their teacher philosophy and research interests. The recipient will receive a $1,000 award for professional development.

Read more about this award and the CEHD Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle here.

The STEM Education Center is proud to have Dr. Julie Brown as a member of our team. Congratulations!

Dr. Clarkson Finalist for OPD President’s Community-Engaged Scholar Award

The Office of Public Engagement hosted an awards luncheon on Friday, April 3rd at the McNamara Alumni Center. Among the other finalists, Dr. Lesa Clarkson was recognized as for her accomplishments as a nominee for the 2015 President’s Community-Engaged Scholar Award. OPD Provost, Karen Hanson, hosted the luncheon and announced the winner, Kathleen Call-School of Public Health, at the end of the event.

Watch Dr. Clarkson’s finalist video as well as videos of the other nominees here.

CEHD Recognizes Dr. Post’s Many Accomplishments

The STEM Education Center would like to congratulate Dr. Tom Post for the wonderful recognition he received yesterday for his many years of service in CEHD.PostT The College of Education and Human Development hosted its Spring Assembly & Recognition Ceremony on Tuesday, April 21st at the DQ lounge of the TCF Bank Stadium. Along with Dr. Post, fifteen other retirees were  recognized and awards were given for various accomplishments by CEHD faculty, staff, and students. The STEM Education Center is proud to have such an accomplished colleague and will be sad to see him leave in the coming months.

STEM Education Center’s Karl Smith will receive ASEE Lifetime Achievement Award

The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) is awarding Karl Smith, professor emeritus and co-director of the STEM Education Center, with the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award. Smith will be presented with the award during the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition on June 15 in Seattle, Washington.

The ASEE Awards Policy Committee identifies the recipient of this award through a thorough nomination process complete with references and a final selection.

The 2015 ASEE Lifetime Achievement Award consists of a $2,000 honorarium and up to $1,000 in travel reimbursement to accept the award, as well as a plaque and a framed certificate.

The STEM Education Center would like to congratulate Professor Smith with this outstanding achievement!

Read more about him and his work on his bio page and on the STEM Education Center website.

International Visitor Leadership Program Visits the STEM Education Center

From Left: Gyongyver Molnar, Ana del Pilar Letona, Gillian Roerhig, Karl Smith, Nasreen Mitu, Svetlana Sadakova, Laure El Chamy, Not Shown- Bill StJohn
From Left: Gyongyver Molnar, Ana del Pilar Letona, Gillian Roerhig, Karl Smith, Nasreen Mitu, Svetlana Sadakova, Laure El Chamy, Not Shown- Bill StJohn

Five emerging multi-regional leaders in the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program will visit the STEM Education Center today, February 11th to discuss issues and opportunities for women in STEM fields with Co-Director, Dr. Karl Smith and Associate Director, Dr. Gillian Roehrig. We welcome the team to the STEM Education Center and hope they have an enjoyable and enlightening experience in Minnesota.

Forbes highlights NSF I-Corps -L Initiative

Forbes magazine recently posted an article by contributing writer Neil Kane about the NSF I-Corps -L project. STEM Education Center co-director and I-Corps -L principal investigator Dr. Karl Smith is quoted in this piece. The project is designed to foster an entrepreneurial mindset among educators and encourage implementation of innovations. We are proud to share this news and thank Forbes for their recognition of our work at the STEM Education Center!

Read Article 

Dr. Karl Smith Collaborates on New National Academies Press Publication

Dr. Karl Smith, co-director of the STEM Education Center, was a major consultant for a project that recently published findings with the National Academy Press. The book, Reaching Students: What Research Say About Effective Instruction in Undergraduate Science and Engineering, was released January 15, 2015, and is available to purchase through the National Academy Press website- www.nap.edu

From National Academies Press (http://www.nap.edu)- January 15, 2015:

The undergraduate years are a turning point in producing scientifically literate citizens and future scientists and engineers. Evidence from research about how students learn science and engineering shows that teaching strategies that motivate and engage students will improve their learning. So how do students best learn science and engineering? Are there ways of thinking that hinder or help their learning process? Which teaching strategies are most effective in developing their knowledge and skills? And how can practitioners apply these strategies to their own courses or suggest new approaches within their departments or institutions? Reaching Students strives to answer these questions.

Reaching Students presents the best thinking to date on teaching and learning undergraduate science and engineering. Focusing on the disciplines of astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, geosciences, and physics, this book is an introduction to strategies to try in your classroom or institution. Concrete examples and case studies illustrate how experienced instructors and leaders have applied evidence-based approaches to address student needs, encouraged the use of effective techniques within a department or an institution, and addressed the challenges that arose along the way.

The research-based strategies in Reaching Students can be adopted or adapted by instructors and leaders in all types of public or private higher education institutions. They are designed to work in introductory and upper-level courses, small and large classes, lectures and labs, and courses for majors and non-majors. And these approaches are feasible for practitioners of all experience levels who are open to incorporating ideas from research and reflecting on their teaching practices. This book is an essential resource for enriching instruction and better educating students.

Justin McFadden Accepts Position at University of Louisville

The STEM Education would like to congratulate Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant, Justin McFadden, for accepting the Assistant Professor of Science Education position in the Department of Early Childhood & Elementary Education at the University of Louisville. Beginning in the fall, Justin will teach elementary science methods. Justin is looking forward to working with his three new colleagues, Tom Tretter, Sherri Brown, and another new hire that begins in the summer. Much like the STEM Education Center, Justin’s new department and colleagues have strong connections with the local and statewide school systems; Justin is looking forward to continuing outreach work within his new community. The Department of Early Childhood & Elementary Education at the University of Louisville recently received a $5 million donation from the Mary K. Oxley Foundation. This money will hopefully support further research opportunities for Justin and his colleagues.

Justin McFadden began working at the STEM Education Center in 2011. He has been a graduate research assistant on a variety of projects such as EngrTEAMS and the WSC/River Run project. He has also taught courses in the initial licensure program for pre-service science teachers.

The STEM Education Center will miss Justin but wish him the best of luck in his new position.