Icon for: Michael Roberts


DePauw University

Testing a Model for Transforming STEM General Education at Liberal Arts Schools

NSF Awards: 1611663

2019 (see original presentation & discussion)


We developed a “Discovery Process in Science and Mathematics” general education course (supported by an NSF IUSE grant) as a novel means of introducing science literacy learning goals in multiple exciting contexts and thereby helping students achieve broader skills transfer.  In the course, STEM faculty members teach 3-week modules on topics they are passionate about and use these as vehicles for teaching key scientific literacy skills.  Each course consists of 4 of these modules, and after each pair of modules, the faculty members jointly meet with the students for several class sessions to compare and contrast the disciplinary approaches from the modules and explore interdisciplinary topics that arise from the two modules.


We have offered the course for five semesters and had 16 faculty members participate with a variety of module topics, e.g., plate tectonics, electromagnetic spectrum, stem cells, molecules of life, concepts of infectious disease, computer models of complex systems, unconscious processing in the mind, etc.  The course has garnered strong reviews from students, and we have collected initial evidence that it positively influences students’ attitudes towards science, but one of the welcome surprises has been the pedagogical development that faculty have reported while collaborating on each offering.


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