With support from the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI Program), this Track 1 project aims to improve undergraduate student interest in science and retention in STEM programs. It intends to accomplish this goal by enriching STEM courses with project-based learning activities that introduce students to making and design thinking. The project seeks to build faculty capacity through a partnership between Queens College, an HSI, and the New York Hall of Science, a science museum. The project will draw from the expertise in informal learning of New York Hall of Science, which has developed a framework that enhances STEM learning through making, discovery, and exploration. The project will gather evidence about how making and design thinking lead to increased student motivation and interest in STEM, as well as improvements in academic outcomes for students. The project seeks to broaden the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM disciplines and has the potential to transform science interest within the diverse community of Queens in New York City.
The project aims to incorporate project-based pedagogical approaches in identified courses to introduce students to making and design thinking. The project will develop and support a learning community for STEM faculty, which will help faculty acquire expertise in how to best incorporate design thinking, making, and the use of makerspace facilities into their courses. The project aims to generate best practices in project-based learning that includes making and design thinking in STEM courses. In addition, the project will examine whether making and design thinking supports changes in students' motivational beliefs and interest in STEM, deepens faculty pedagogical practices, and fosters inter-institutional interactions. The project's impact on undergraduate students will be investigated using data linked to STEM achievement and persistence (from institutional records) and measures of motivational perceptions (from surveys). To investigate faculty participation and perceptions, as well as impact on participating institutions, a longitudinal mixed methods design will generate data about how faculty respond over time to training and support, and about how long-term activities lead to change in complex institutions. The project will host a public forum where students can present or demo their projects and will also share findings through a project website. Other dissemination efforts will include course manuals posted on the QC Makerspace and course websites, papers published in both academic publications and informal learning practitioner publications, presentations given at STEM education conferences and at public events at the New York Hall of Science. The HSI Program aims to enhance undergraduate STEM education and build capacity at HSIs. Projects supported by the HSI Program will also generate new knowledge on how to achieve these aims.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.