Iowa State University Receives Grant to Improve Undergraduate STEM Education

Iowa State University is one of 12 universities to receive a grant from the Association of American Universities (AAU) to improve undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM disciplines.

More than half of the undergraduates at Iowa State major in STEM related fields. The university also has a strong culture of supporting STEM-based education, which encourages departments and faculty members to focus on student-centered, evidence-based, active-learning teaching methods.

Jo Anne Powell-Coffman, chair of the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, is the project coordinator for the Iowa State grant. She’s successfully led STEM learning communities and is part of a team exploring the implementation of evidence-based teaching practices.

Powell-Coffman said the $20,000 grant will support cross-disciplinary teams, create new networks and accelerate educational change.

“These efforts will allow the Iowa State community to build upon some of our existing strengths in undergraduate STEM education. We will use the grant funds to establish new partnerships with colleagues at other universities and learn from their innovations in undergraduate education,” she said.

Ann Marie VanDerZanden, director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) and professor of horticulture, also is playing a central role in coordinating the grant. CELT provides faculty development opportunities and resources, which are focused on teaching techniques that improve course design and student learning outcomes. The leadership team for the project also includes Craig Ogilvie, assistant dean of the Graduate College and Morrill Professor of physics, and Clark Coffman, associate professor in the genetics, development, and cell biology.

The grant is part of the 2011 AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative, which supports national programs to enhance STEM education. The grants were made possible through a five-year $1 million grant from the Northrop Grumman Foundation.

Other universities receiving the grant include the California Institute of Technology; Cornell 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.