Boise State University has created the STEM Central STATION (Strategic Transformation Aligning Teaching, Immersion, Outreach and kNowledge) to increase the scope, efficiency and effectiveness of NSF-supported STEM programs on campus, and catalyze the transformation of STEM institutional culture for students and faculty. Boise State is transforming from a focus on high-quality teaching and learning to excellence in teaching, learning and research, making it an ideal "laboratory" to study institutional change related to STEM education. Exceptional growth in STEM enrollment (32% over four years) and research funding (32% in 2009) converge to provide optimal timing for STEM education transformation.
The STEM Central STATION builds upon current STEM programs (LSAMP, MSP, Noyce, STEP, S-STEM, GK-12, and Idaho EPSCoR) by providing value added activities including: 1) a campus hub for STEM resources, research and programs, 2) a peer Learning Facilitators program that supports all the NSF STEM programs, 3) a STEM Community Seminar Series to foster interdisciplinary research, teaching and student support, and 4) STEM pedagogy workshops and research groups for faculty. The STATION focuses on critical junctures for students and faculty and STEM research and evaluation. Overall goals of the STATION are to: - Facilitate and achieve STEM students' transitions through academic and cognitive critical junctures; - Increase STEM faculty appreciation for and implementation of student-centered pedagogy and inclusion of students in research, particularly for faculty involved with NSF STEM programs; - Conduct research on institutional transformation and evaluate program impact on STEM student satisfaction, retention, and completion, and faculty engagement in learning about STEM pedagogy; and - Provide a model for other metropolitan universities undergoing similar transformations.
The STEM Central STATION is grounded in literature regarding learning theories and institutional change, with an emphasis on concepts of self-authorship. The evaluation plan of the STATION offers a case study of a metropolitan university in transition to a research university, while continuing to value and advance quality teaching and learning. The outcomes of the project are amplifying the results of the NSF STEM programs at Boise State, which include emphases on students from minority and underrepresented groups (particularly LSAMP, STEP and EPSCoR), serving low income and first-generation students, women, and Latinos/as, whose regional population has recently more than doubled. The Service Learning component of the Learning Facilitators training course provides outreach to K-12 students and teachers, enabling expansion of STEM outreach in K-12 classrooms. With strong commitments from the university president and leadership of resources, graduate assistants and space, the project implementation plan includes strategies to phase out grant support and transition to university support to sustain the STATION after the grant period.