March 14, 2018
Across the country, scientists are watching with dismay as the months tick by without any appointment of a White House science adviser. The omission is "symbolically worrisome," said one of those researchers, Christopher F. D’Elia, dean of the College of the Coast and Environment at Louisiana State University. "We’d like to see scientists respected, and a scientist as the science adviser." But a less-visible, if arguably more consequential, White House absence is now compounding — or, to some minds, possibly easing — those anxieties in the university research community.
January 31, 2018
Math departments fail too many calculus students and do not adequately prepare those they pass. That is the message heard from engineering colleges across the country. Calculus has often been viewed as a tool for screening who should be allowed into engineering programs. But it appears to be failing in that regard, too. That is, it is preventing students who should be proceeding from going on, and it is letting students through who do not have the mathematical preparation that they need.
January 29, 2018
Once a week students in professor Cristina Villalobos’ Calculus I class form groups of four to solve math problems. They are encouraged to talk to each other, use their phones to create graphs and ask as many questions as possible. Since 2016, Villalobos and other professors in the Statistical Sciences department at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley have been rolling out the implementation of Active Learning in their introductory math courses, mainly Pre-calculus through Calculus II. The idea is to keep those who are entering STEM related fields — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — from becoming discouraged due to lack of understanding.
January 26, 2018
Math is widely seen as a barrier for students. When the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities announced this week that it will work with a dozen institutions to study various approaches for using active-learning techniques in introductory math courses, it called those courses “the most common roadblock to a degree” in the STEM disciplines. The project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, is focused especially on helping students from underrepresented minorities succeed. By examining the 12 universities’ approaches, it aims to develop models “that can work at virtually any institution.”
January 22, 2018
A National Science Foundation-funded initiative aimed at expanding the use of "active learning" techniques in introductory mathematics courses is expanding from three to 12 universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities announced today. The project, known as SEMINAL: Student Engagement in Mathematics through an Institutional Network for Active Learning, has been led by San Diego State University, the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, which have reworked their math curricula to improve student success in early courses, particularly students from underrepresented minority groups.
April 20, 2017
“Computer Science Is Tough Sell to Women” (U.S. News, April 11) casts a much-needed spotlight on the shortfall in women earning degrees in STEM disciplines like engineering and computer science. The STEM degree deficit hardly just affects earnings. A dearth of diversity creates a headwind for discovery and innovation, too. A growing body of research has found that diverse teams are more innovative than homogenous ones, especially within STEM contexts. Compared exclusively to male teams, for example, mixed-gendered teams generate 40% more technology patents.
October 19, 2016
David May is the project director for Advancing Mathematics Pathways for Student Success, a project sponsored by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Organizers are attempting to coordinate efforts among colleges around the country that are trying to guide more students into statistics. Colleges in at least 15 states have joined the movement. He said the effort in Maryland has made it a "model state." "I think Maryland is going to be one of the places that we will point to as a place where they've gone about it in a good way, getting the faculty involved, getting the state involved, and not having it be a college-by-college effort," he said.
September 19, 2016
When Brandon Ruotolo started looking for academic jobs, he knew one thing for certain: He wanted a tenure-track position. Ruotolo spent five years as a postdoc in England, which does not offer tenure. So he knew he wanted the job protections and academic freedom that tenure offers. But he also knew about the downside. The chemist had heard the tenure horror stories of seemingly competent colleagues who got turned down after long, behind-closed-door deliberations.
July 29, 2016
Over the next five years, underrepresented student enrollment in postsecondary education is projected to climb 25 percent. But will the biomedical sciences and STEM workforce experience the same demographic shift? The Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Association of American Medical Colleges hope so: the group published a report with recommendations for ways to increase underrepresented student enrollment in biomedical sciences and STEM graduate programs.
April 11, 2016
Math is a stumbling block for many students, and instruction may be part of the reason why. Introductory math courses that serve as gateways to majors in science, technology, engineering, and math can be stultifying bores, a presidential council has said, leaving students "with the impression that all STEM fields are dull and unimaginative." The council’s members have even suggested assigning faculty members from physics or computer science, for example, to teach the subject. Meanwhile, according to a recent critique, math curricula overemphasize abstract subjects like trigonometry and calculus over more-practical ones, unnecessarily demoralizing students and costing the nation human potential.