(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.
In honor of UTSA's 50th Anniversary in 2019, the university is hosting Roadrunner Days Spring Edition - two weeks of semester-launching activities built around our deeply held values of student success, student involvement, community service and fun!Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy invites everyone to its monthly lecture and stargazing event (weather permitting).Flawn Building (FLN 2.02.02) and Curtis Vaughn Jr. Observatory, 4th floor of Flawn Building, Main Campus
All UTSA students, faculty, staff, alums & families are invited to march as a unified community. Register here: bit.ly/2TYbHbR. Shuttles will be provided from the Main and Downtown Campuses.Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy, 3501 MLK Dr., San Antonio
UTSA's John Nix invites the community to sing "Amazing Grace" and “We Shall Overcome” at 11 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The intent of this nationwide effort is to honor Dr. King's legacy and to spread a sense of community in the United States.Locations throughout the United States
Opening Reception got exhibit featuring artists Miguel Aragon, Aaron Coleman, Sandra Fernandez, Annalise Gratovich, Marco Hernandez, Kristen Powers Nowlin, & Patricia Villalobos EcheverriaMain Art Gallery, Arts Building (ART 2.03.04), Main Campus
Tracy Cowden, Roland K. Blumberg Endowed Professor in Music and chair of the UTSA Department of Music launches the UTSA 50th Anniversary Scholars Speaker Series with Music as Medicine: The Power and Influence of Music on our Health.Radius Center, 106 Auditorium Cir. #120, San Antonio
UTSA African American Studies Program presents this series featuring Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University.Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus)
The annual event features authentic foods, music, dance, martial arts, shopping, games and entertainment from China, to the Indian Sub-continent, and the island nations of the Pacific. The Festival features two stages, a martial arts demonstration area, children’s hands on crafting area, anime activities, bonsai and ikebana displays, mahjong table and more.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
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