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Mizzou Receives AAU Grant

The University of Missouri is one of 12 universities to receive a grant from the Association of American Universities (AAU) to further existing efforts to improve undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

The $20,000 mini-grant will support faculty learning communities, departmental workshops, a symposium on STEM education reform and visits with experts in STEM reform. Johannes Schul and Sarah Bush, both professors with MU’s Division of Biological Sciences, are leading the new project.

“This grant is an opportunity to build an infrastructure and a culture that encourages and supports efforts to reform courses, curriculum and the classroom experiences of students in STEM fields at MU,” Schul said.

Among the objectives of the project are to:

  • organize the faculty across campus who are already involved in STEM education reform efforts to create an active, interactive and visible community.
  • develop faculty expertise as a resource for STEM education reform across campus, by training, encouraging and supporting additional STEM and Education faculty in active curriculum reform.
  • generate general awareness of the need for systematic STEM education reform on campus, as well as the ongoing efforts to accomplish it.

Joining Schul and Bush on the project leadership team are Craig Kluever (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), Dorina Kosztin (Physics), James Noble (Industrial & Manufacturing Systems Engineering), Robert O’Connell (Electrical Engineering), Brenda Peculis (Biochemistry), Marcelle Siegel (Science Education, Biochemistry) and Alan Whittington (Geology).

Jim Spain (Vice Provost of Undergraduate Studies), Noor Azizan-Gardner (Asst. Vice Chancellor, Division of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity), Cooper Drury (Assoc. Dean, Arts and Science) and Hani Salim (Assoc. Dean, Engineering) are administrative liaisons on the project.

“This is a faculty-driven effort,” Bush said. “The fact that a group of faculty volunteered to put this project together indicates the extent to which professors at MU care about the quality of undergraduate teaching. Although we’re very grateful for the support we’re receiving from administration, efforts like this are most successful when faculty themselves have identified a problem and are motivated on their own to address it.”

The mini-grants are made possible by a five-year, $1 million grant from the Northrop Grumman Foundation, which supports diverse and sustainable national programs to enhance the STEM education experience for students and provide STEM teachers with the training and tools they need to be successful in the classroom.

“AAU remains committed to improving the effectiveness of undergraduate STEM teaching and learning at research universities,” said AAU President Mary Sue Coleman. “We are excited to support innovative concepts to scale education reforms at our member campuses.”

The grants will go to the California Institute of Technology; Cornell University; Iowa State University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; McGill University; The University of Texas at Austin; University of California, Irvine; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Kansas; University of Missouri, Columbia; University of Virginia; and Yale University.

The 12 universities receiving this grant are active in the AAU STEM Education Network. The network is an outgrowth of the AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative, a major project begun in 2011 to encourage STEM departments at AAU universities to use teaching practices proven effective in engaging students in STEM education and in helping students learn.