The Nation's two-year colleges (2YCs) educate a substantial and rapidly growing number of undergraduate students, including a significant number of students in STEM fields. Furthermore, the racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity of students served by 2YCs make these institutions key entry points to STEM fields for students who have been historically underrepresented.
The Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM of Two-Year Colleges (TUESTYC) project is developing and implementing a grant writing workshop and mentoring program for STEM faculty from 2YCs. Project components are designed to address the barriers to participation in TUES program faced by 2YC faculty. The overall goals of the project are to broaden awareness of the TUES program as a resource for 2YCs and to increase the number of TUES awards to these institutions. This project is extending the work of two previous projects by specifically targeting faculty from the disciplines of biology, engineering, and physics/astronomy. By enhancing participation of target faculty in the TUES program, the project is directly impacting 2YC faculty and students through improved curricula, pedagogy, and instrumentation. Furthermore, by broadening the TUES community to include institutions not previously represented, the project is seeking to further facilitate collaboration between 2YCs and the broader undergraduate STEM community.
The TUESTYC Project was designed to increase participation of two-year college faculty in NSF-funded grant programs, with a particular focus on participation in the Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM (TUES) program. In service of this goal, the project carried out the following primary activities: Developed a workshop and mentoring model for faculty professional development designed to familiarize faculty with NSF funding opportunities, describe and illustrate the components that go into a successful grant proposal, overcome institutional barriers to seeking NSF funding, and assist participants to write and submit their own TUES proposal; Planned and implemented a 2.5 day grant writing workshop for two-year college faculty from a variety of STEM disciplines; Provided follow-up mentoring for workshop participants designed to help them write and submit proposals to the NSF TUES program in both May of 2011 and May of 2012; Developed and offered an on-line webinar version of our grant writing workshop (January 2014); Conducted a 1.5 day grant writing workshop for two-year college faculty in the Seattle area (June 0 2014); Completed a comprehensive external evaluation of the project that assessed the activities of the project and their effectiveness in advancing the projectâ€™s goals. The workshops and webinar professional development activities involved a total of 135 faculty over the course of the grant period. Of the fifty participants in the original 2011 workshop, thirty ultimately prepared and submitted TUES proposals in May 2011, exceeding the projects original goal. While only one of these proposals was funded, our evaluation data clearly document that participantsâ€™ familiarity with NSF programs, the grant writing process, and their own confidence to write a federal grant proposal was significantly enhanced by their involvement in this project. Finally, the project allowed us to identify a number of significant barriers that continue to limit participation of two-year college faculty in NSFâ€™s programs. These include a lack of faculty time for grant writing (due to heavy teaching loads), a lack of administrative support, a lack of collegial support due to small department size and/or few full time colleagues, lack of prior institutional experience seeking federal grant support, and the absence of an experienced campus grants office. Perhaps not surprisingly, we found that participants whose institutions had explicitly addressed these issues were much more likely to submit proposals than those who had not. Addressing these kinds of structural barriers remains a challenge to increasing participation of two-year colleges in NSF-funded programs.