(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.
The annual concert series begins the choirs and orchestra performing Dvorak's "Te Deum" . This concert is open to the public. Admission $10.Arts Building Recital Hall (ARTS 2.03.02), Main Campus
All UTSA faculty, staff and students are invited to attend open forums featuring finalist candidates for the position of vice provost and dean of the UTSA Graduate School.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The second of three in the annual holiday concert series which will feature the Chamber Singers (Santa Baby), Saxophone Ensemble (Sleigh Ride), Jazz Ensemble (Sugar Rum Cherry), Flute Ensemble and more performing holiday favorites. Admission $10.Arts Building Recital Hall (ARTS 2.03.02), Main Campus
The Roadrunners close out the regular season at home against North Texas.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
This event showcases innovative student projects and research performed across multiple disciplines. The symposium is designed to provide a public venue where UTSA senior engineering students to present advances achieved in their design projects.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
Join the Office of Information Technology for the grand opening of the Digital Experience Lab (DEx Lab). The DEx Lab is open to the entire UTSA community and contains innovative learning tools and serves as a virtual reality lab.Applied Engineering and Technology Building (AET 0.202), Main Campus
The College of Education and Human Development’s Mexican American Studies (MAS) program will celebrate its 25thanniversary with a special celebration on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 6 p.m. at the UTSA Downtown Campus. The event is free and open to the public.Buena Vista Street Building Theater (BVB 1.326), Downtown Campus
The students will perform in a showcase of modern, jazz, and ballet dances choreographed by Megan Rulewicz, Randi Miles and Michelle Pietri. Tickets are $10. Parking is free in the Cattleman's Square Lot.Buena Vista Street Building Theater (BVB 1.326), Downtown Campus