(Sept. 4, 2018) -- UTSA has received a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Program to improve student success and the diversity of students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The HSI Program seeks to enhance the quality of undergraduate STEM education at HSIs while increasing retention and graduation rates of undergraduate students pursuing degrees in STEM fields at HSIs.
UTSA will use the funding to develop and implement new instructional methods and curricular changes focused on academic literacy, student mentoring, and instructional inquiry and reflection in an effort to transform its undergraduate curriculum and improve the persistence rate of its STEM students.
The university currently awards 1,045 bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields each year. Among those graduates, 52.6 percent identify as Hispanic, African American, American Indian or Alaskan Native.
“The Texas Workforce Commission has estimated that 60,000 new scientists and engineers will be needed to meet workforce needs over the next decade, which means the annual graduation rate of scientists and engineers needs to double,” said UTSA Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy. “At UTSA, we know that there is certain coursework in our STEM curriculum that is especially challenging for many of our students. By addressing this and teaching the curriculum in a new way, we can maintain the rigor of our STEM degree programs while improving retention and graduation rates.”
According to the National Center for Higher Education, only 55.5 percent of U.S. students who pursue a STEM degree will graduate with a STEM degree.
Gateway courses, lower-division courses that students must complete to proceed through their degree programs, are particularly challenging for STEM majors. In Fall 2016, the pass rates for UTSA gateway courses in physics, calculus, chemistry and engineering analysis were 63, 61, 52 and 51 percent, respectively. These pass rates decreased an additional 4.2 percent for Hispanic students majoring in engineering and six percent for Hispanic students majoring in science or math.
To improve undergraduate student persistence from lower-division to upper-division courses, a team of UTSA faculty members from science, engineering, and education and human development will implement six strategies, building on the Language, Literacy and STEM (LA-STEM) Framework. The framework is rooted in the belief that literacy skills support success across all academic disciplines and are a necessity for students learning STEM concepts.
Using the LA-STEM Framework, UTSA aims to:
Additionally, innovative cross-disciplinary partnerships will be established between UTSA STEM and Education and Human Development faculty members to create groups of faculty leaders that promote academic literacy in the development of strong university-level STEM teaching and learning.
“We know that there are certain courses that challenge our students,” said Heather Shipley, vice provost of academic affairs and dean of UTSA’s University College. “By re-developing the way we teach those courses, we will be able to maintain the academic standards of our curriculum while making the curriculum more accessible to our students. We intend to create best practices that will not only help UTSA students succeed but will also serve as a model for other colleges and universities around the country.”
This program will benefit STEM undergraduates at UTSA by increasing their retention rates, critical thinking skills, professional knowledge and self-efficacy. Taken together, this will support timely completion of undergraduate degrees and will increase the marketability and job placement of UTSA graduates.
The grant team will be led by Shipley, Mark Appleford (Biomedical Engineering), Juliet Langman (Bicultural-Bilingual Studies) Kelly Nash (Physics and Astronomy) and Jorge Solis (Bicultural-Bilingual Studies) with support from Krystel Castillo (Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute at UTSA), Harry Millwater (Mechanical Engineering) and Orlando Graves Bolanos (Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning and the DoSeum).
Learn more about UTSA’s Presidential Initiative on Student Success.
Learn more about UTSA’s University College.
Emerging artists work in the full range of traditional methods and materials as well as in interdisciplinary and new media. Themes range from social and cultural critique to investigations that are challenging and exquisite explorations in creative form and image.UTSA Art Gallery, Arts Building, Main Campus
Juan Vallejo’s art conveys his experience as a childhood migrant worker. Opening reception: Thurs, Dec. 5, 6–9 p.m. Free and open to the public.UTSA Terminal 136, Blue Star Arts Complex, 136 Blue St., San Antonio
Portions of Cook Road will be closed for construction related to the new Student Success Center project and Americans with Disabilities Act sidewalk upgrades.Cook Road, Main Campus
Out of the violence comes a silence, then a song. Thus begins an extraordinary night of camaraderie, music and peace. A remarkable true experience, told in the words and songs of the men who lived it. UTSA partners with The Public Theater for this event. Contact the theater at (210) 458-3288 for scheduling requests.Buena Vista Theater, Downtown Campus
Forty-six modular units will be delivered to Main Campus as part of the new Student Success Center project. The units will enter campus at Brennan Avenue and will travel to their final destination, south of the North Paseo Building and Graduate School and Research Building via Tobin Avenue, Bauerle Road and Devine Avenue.Brennan Avenue, Tobin Avenue, Bauerle Road, Devine Avenue, Main Campus
Enjoy two classic holiday performances. Children’s Ballet of San Antonio will present two of The Nutcracker. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church will perform a traditional Pastorela play, a morality tale about shepherds going to Bethlehem and the snares the devil uses to dissuade them. Performances are included with regular ITC admission.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, 801 E. César E. Chavez Blvd., San Antonio
Celebrating graduating students from the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. Guest speaker: Susan Pape '86, chairman of the San Antonio Express-News.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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