SEPTEMBER 1, 2022 — The University of Texas at San Antonio has been awarded a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study pedagogical approaches for supporting Hispanic and underrepresented students in STEM disciplines.
The funding will advance the university’s strategic goal to become a model for student success, a great public research university, and an exemplar for strategic growth and innovative excellence.
“I deeply believe education is the primary driver of social mobility, and this award greatly enhances UTSA’s efforts to develop even more innovative programs to support future Roadrunners and students from all backgrounds nationwide,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “From our selection as a recipient of the prestigious Seal of Excelencia to our more recent induction as a founding member of the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities, we are incredibly honored to be recognized for our commitment to advancing Latino student success in San Antonio and beyond.”
Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of the University Heather Shipley will serve as principal investigator for the project, titled “HSI Institutional Transformation Project: STEM Undergraduate Education through a Hispanic Student Success Framework.”
Co-principal investigators are Mark Appleford, associate vice provost of undergraduate studies and associate professor of biomedical engineering in the Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design; Arturo Montoya, associate dean of undergraduate studies in the Klesse College and associate professor of civil engineering and environmental engineering and construction management; and Vanessa Sansone, assistant professor of educational leadership in the College of Education and Human Development.
The goal of the cross-disciplinary team, said Shipley, is to develop an HSI Student Success Servingness Framework that can be replicated at other HSIs nationwide.
The framework will focus on pedagogy development through evidence-based teaching approaches and will include enhanced student peer mentoring, professional development of graduate students and faculty, and review of current policies and practices with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Ultimately, the integrated Servingness Framework will be used to improve student learning and self-efficacy by developing new instructional methods and implementing curricular changes through teaching approaches and instructor coaching.
“The concept of ‘servingness’ corresponds closely to UTSA’s vision of becoming a Hispanic Thriving Institution,” said Shipley. “While universities are federally designated as HSIs based on enrollment demographics, ‘servingness’ is a multi-faceted approach to understanding how well universities actually are supporting their Hispanic students and developing organizational change to enhance that support.”
As part of developing the Servingness Framework, the project will accomplish the following tasks:
In addition to increasing the retention, graduation and persistence rates of the students, Shipley said she expects the project to give faculty opportunities to develop innovative, equity-centered evidence-based best practice teaching approaches that enhance student learning and equity in the classroom, which in turn provides students with marketable skills to be successful in the workforce.
“UTSA is committed to increasing representation of Hispanic students in STEM degree programs and ultimately in the STEM workforce,” said UTSA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Kimberly Andrews Espy. “First-generation and Hispanic students bring a wide range of assets to college through their own culture, personal values and lived experiences. Through this cross-disciplinary project, we can better learn how to harness those assets to drive innovation in STEM education and build capacity for supporting underrepresented students at both HSI and non-HSI institutions nationwide.”
UTSA was designated by the U.S. Department of Education as an HSI in 1994. The designation broadly defines an HSI as an accredited, not-for-profit two- or four-year institution of higher education whose full-time undergraduate enrollment is at least 25 percent Hispanic.
As of fall 2021, 57% of enrolled students at UTSA identify as Hispanic, and 45% of undergraduates are first-generation college students. Of 7,741 degrees awarded in 2020-2021, 56% were awarded to students who identify as Hispanic.
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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.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.