Reflective Waves: Creating and Applying Classroom Interventions with the Experiments Working Group

By Ashley Atkinson

Edited by Nita Tarchinski

Continuing with our Reflective Waves series, where we showcase important SEISMIC efforts and initiatives that have taken place over the past five years, Working Group 2 (WG2) takes the spotlight. Also known as the Experiments Working Group, WG2 focuses on classroom interventions that seek to understand disparities and foster equity across multiple disciplines and universities. Throughout the duration of SEISMIC, over 70 members have been involved with WG2, supporting multiple projects and giving workshops, poster presentations, and talks at both SEISMIC and external events.

Co-chairs Vanessa Woods and Mike Wilton both joined WG2 because they were interested in applying interventions to their own classrooms. Woods and Wilton are associate teaching professors at the University of California Santa Barbara, with Woods working within the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences and Wilton working within the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. I recently had the chance to catch up with Woods and Wilton, reflecting on WG2’s progress over the past few years and their perspectives as co-chairs. WG2, like Working Groups 1 and 3, was established at the 2019 SEISMIC Summer Meeting to help organize and encourage collaborative efforts. “We were perceived to be those that were gonna go in and tinker something in their classroom and see the impacts on student outcomes,” Wilton says.

WG 2 Co-Chair Mike Wilton

WG 2 Co-Chair Vanessa Woods

In addition to establishing the Experiments Working Group at the Summer Meeting in 2019, four project ideas were proposed and taken on by participants. One of these was the Access to Practice (AtP) project, originally coordinated by Maggie Safronova and Linda Adler-Kassner. AtP involves faculty designing low-stakes writing assignments that students will peer-review in order to improve their learning in the course. “Instructors, as experts, have ways that they think and talk and they don’t actually explain those ways very well,” Woods says. “Students […] don’t really have those same structures and understanding of all of those norms. That’s why we call it Access to Practice – how do you give students access to how the discipline talks?” As many say, practice makes perfect.

Access to Practice also capitalizes on how the process of writing, reviewing, and revising improves students’ understanding of concepts and conventions. “It allows students to engage with knowledge in a way that helps them to tackle hard concepts,” Wilton says. He gives the example of his students being tasked with explaining a child’s genetic abnormality to their parents: “They have to write their answer in around 400 words, and that gets reviewed by two of their peers.” This communal learning exercise, which has both prompts and rubrics designed by faculty and project leadership together, has had a surprising finding: students seem to learn more by reviewing others than by being reviewed themselves.

In addition to the structured peer review exercises improving student learning and success, preliminary data shows that participation in the written exercises can increase feelings of disciplinary belonging in students. Faculty at UCSB have the opportunity to participate in the intervention, and the AtP leadership team has worked hard to share the impactfulness of their peer review exercises through publications (e.g., Woods et al., 2021) and presentations. “We’ve done lots of workshop presentations for instructors about how to create structured peer reviews,” Woods says. Outside of local UCSB meetings, Woods and Safronova presented at SABER West 2023, where their theme was Supporting Equitable Transitions in STEM Education.

Office Hours Project Leader Lalo Gonzalez

Another one of WG2’s core projects is the Office Hours Project, led by Lalo Gonzalez, also an associate teaching professor at UCSB. Those within the project have worked hard to identify best practices associated with office hours and collect data through faculty surveys, student surveys, and an “office hours tracker” that documents the characteristics of students attending office hours. Characteristics include categories such as race, ethnicity, gender, first-generation status, and academic standing.

STEM instructors can investigate what is happening in their own classroom by collecting data and working with Office Hours leadership to interpret their findings. Wilton recalls that Gonzalez and a few others acted as mentors, helping instructors develop their education research skills by qualitatively coding survey responses and identifying themes. One trend they observed: first-generation and racially minoritized students were not (or rarely) attending office hours.

Wilton shared that to address these results, he and other instructors modified course syllabi to detail how their courses are designed to support students with learning, and how this support includes office hours. The syllabi also include an explanation of office hours norms, which, for Wilton and his colleagues, have shifted from one-on-one conversations in offices to open rooms with tables where students can work in groups. Finally, those who participate in the Office Hours Project normalize struggling and assure students that it’s a part of learning. Because office hours can seem scary and intimidating, these instructors have taken steps to make it a friendlier environment and lower potential barriers to attending.

Perry Samson, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Michigan, has led two different projects within WG2. The Backchannel Project seeks to evaluate if a backchannel – a way for students to ask questions anonymously during class and receive answers in real time – increases students’ sense of belonging. As being called on in a classroom or visiting office hours can be intimidating, oftentimes students will resign to having their questions unvoiced or seek the answers elsewhere. This can lead to lower academic success for students who are unable to receive clarification. To address this, Samson’s backchannel allows students to ask questions through their phone or laptop anonymously during lectures and graduate teaching assistants address the question online. Not only does this allow students to get their questions answered, but students can also see they’re not alone in having questions. Woods reports the project has found that underrepresented students utilize backchannels more than raising their hand, or other non-anonymous forms of communication.

Backchannel and CLUE Project Leader Perry Samson

Samson’s second project, Contextual Linkaging for Undergraduate Education (CLUE), uses Artificial Intelligence to transcribe, annotate, index, and take notes on recorded lectures from instructors. “It’s almost like having bookmarks,” Wilton says. Students who miss class or want to review a lecture’s content can re-watch the recording entirely but also use the added indexes, notes, keywords, and additional resources to enhance their studying process. Both of Samson’s projects received NSF funding (NSF2013316, NSF2016421) and have been featured in several articles (Koenig, 2019 & Priebe, 2022), extending the impact of these projects to wider contexts and ultimately impacting more students.

Both Wilton and Woods are thrilled with the work of WG2. “A strength of Working Group 2 is that you see the direct impacts of the work you’re doing,” Wilton says. “It’s like looking under the microscope.” In addition to the successes of WG2’s projects, the co-chairs have come away with important lessons for managing multi-institutional, collaborative work. First, regular communication is critical and must occur throughout the working group: between participants in the same project, between leadership in different projects, between project leadership and co-chairs, and between co-chairs and SEISMIC Central – SEISMIC’s administrative team. Keeping folks in the loop, alongside having people hold organizational roles, ensures that projects stay on track and deadlines are met. On a similar note, meeting in person (like at writing retreats, summer meetings, or the Weeks of SEISMIC), was incredibly helpful for re-energizing project groups and making large pushes toward goals.

This last year of SEISMIC is bittersweet for WG2: some projects are winding down, and others are growing to become self-sustainable, no longer needing as much support from SEISMIC. However, we are immensely proud of the many important interventions developed and implemented throughout the years. “I really do hope that the working groups stay as a collaborative project that keeps going,” Woods says, thinking about a potential SEISMIC 2.0. Indeed, there is still plenty of work to be done and interventions to be assessed when looking at equity and inclusion in STEM courses. However, regardless of what the collaboration looks like in the future, SEISMIC has given multiple experiments the push they need to hit the ground running.

 

Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, ensuring that SEISMIC initiatives have the help they need to run smoothly. Her primary responsibilities include maintaining the SEISMIC website, managing the Newsletter, and supporting projects. As an alumnus of Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication. She is currently pursuing an MA in Science Writing and Johns Hopkins University.

 

 

 

 

Reflective Waves: Investigating and Identifying Inequities in STEM Courses with the Measurement Working Group

By Ashley Atkinson

Early on, SEISMIC established four Working Groups to promote collaborative work across member institutions and encourage participants to apply their expertise to topics of interest to them. In this issue of Reflective Waves, we will be highlighting the work and successes of Working Group 1: Measurement (WG1). WG1 was founded with the primary goals of establishing metrics for measuring equity and inclusion in introductory STEM courses, conducting measurements, and identifying actionable data to promote change.

Throughout the past five years, over 70 people have been involved with the Measurement Working Group. This has resulted in the publication of six papers, with four more on the way. In addition, WG1 members have given several presentations on their measurement work at a variety of events such as The Weeks of SEISMIC, our Summer Meetings, and academic conferences such as the American Educational Research Association events.

WG 1 Co-Chair Becky Matz

Co-chairs Becky Matz and Stefano Fiorini have worked hard to organize and support the group’s efforts. “I would say that WG1’s greatest success is the new relationships among staff researchers, faculty, postdocs, and students across SEISMIC’s institutions,” says Matz. “There exists now a bigger and stronger network of folks who can do cross-institutional quantitative work with student records data, and I think each of us in that network has a good sense of the motivations, capabilities, and strengths of the others.” Both co-chairs attribute much of WG1’s success to the involvement of key members and are proud of how WG1 as a whole has contributed to the SEISMIC community. Moreover, Matz and Fiorini are confident WG1 has made important progress toward addressing inequities and structural issues that exist on SEISMIC campuses through the variety of studies conducted.

In 2021, WG1 developed a Fellowship program that allowed graduate students to participate in SEISMIC research during the summer, providing them with funding to support their work. Outside of supporting the Collaboration’s goals of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM courses, the Fellowship program gave WG1 the opportunity to build and expand the pool of future academics with an understanding of the issues that were at play. “That was extremely exciting because we could bring in students and give them an experience that contributed to their career prospects,” Fiorini recalls.

WG 1 Co-Chair Stefano Fiorini

Working Group 1 has nurtured multiple projects to work towards its mission of identifying and evaluating measurements of inequities in STEM courses. One of the working group’s efforts explores the effects of student demographics in introductory STEM courses. By conducting parallel data analyses across the SEISMIC institutions, participants worked to characterize how the complex identities of students interact with STEM learning environments. The group formalized the Systemic Advantage Index, a scale that indicates the advantages that characterize students within institutions according to race, gender, socioeconomic status, and first-generation status. Using this, Sarah Castle and other members of WG1 explored multi-institutional practices for mapping systemic advantages within STEM courses (Castle et al., 2021). Another paper concerning the impact of systemic advantage on student outcomes is currently in review, and will hopefully be published soon. 

Another WG1 project focused on the impact that Advanced Placement (AP) course credit has on student success in introductory science courses. Christian Fischer and other members of WG1 identified that institutional and departmental policies concerning AP credit varied widely. Additionally, the group found that there was variety in the way students approached using AP credit to skip courses (Fischer et al., 2023).

Working Group 1’s progress was not without challenges, however. Often, the data they were primarily working with was institutional data, meaning information about the courses and their students was collected by the universities themselves. This frequently left many unknown elements when looking at data, such as specific student identities and other unique student experiences, leading WG1 members to wonder, “How can we describe inequities in an effective, meaningful, and actionable way?” 

To address this in part, WG1 consulted with members of Working Group 4: Constructs (WG4), who were familiar with applying new frameworks and perspectives to STEM education research. “They provided us with food for thought [and] and ways of moving this work forward while accounting for the limitations of our data,” Fiorini explains. WG4 assisted WG1 with integrating critical approaches into quantitative STEM equity working, investigating systemic inequities present in higher education and their historical roots. Pearson et al. (2022) is a great example of the two working groups collaborating to inform future analyses concerning systemic inequity in STEM fields.

Matz and Fiorini are hopeful that WG1 will continue to develop the knowledge and skills needed to work towards changing inequitable practices and adverse structural elements, even after the end of SEISMIC 1.0. The two also have future topics they’d like for the group to explore, including analyzing data generated from learning management systems and using WG1’s strong relationships to do research that impacts an even broader audience of researchers, administrators, and faculty.

Because of the efforts of dedicated co-chairs and motivated members, Working Group 1 has advanced the understanding of equity issues in STEM introductory courses, identifying and developing metrics alongside analyzing available data. They are continuing to apply pressure to the higher education system, pursuing new projects and sharing what they’ve learned. The fire they’ve lit under all of us involved in higher education will continue to burn, even beyond the conclusion of SEISMIC.

 

Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, ensuring that SEISMIC initiatives have the help they need to run smoothly. Her primary responsibilities include maintaining the SEISMIC website, managing the Newsletter, and supporting projects. As an alum from Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication. She is currently pursuing an MA in Science Writing and Johns Hopkins University.

 

 

 

 

Reflective Waves: Behind the Scenes of our Collaboration’s Newsletter

By Ashley Atkinson

With funding for The SEISMIC Collaboration being extended for another year, this is a great opportunity to reflect on past SEISMIC initiatives, synthesizing what we’ve learned and thinking about what we want both SEISMIC 2.0 and our last year of SEISMIC 1.0 to look like. To take advantage of this time, SEISMIC Central is beginning a “Reflective Waves” article series where previous SEISMIC efforts are revisited and explored. The goal is to interview members tied to these efforts to gain additional perspectives on projects. We are hopeful that this series will cover a variety of SEISMIC initiatives including the Working Groups, the Office Hours Podcast, SEISMIC Scholars, the Weeks of SEISMIC, and the Collaboration Council. The first and longest standing SEISMIC initiative we are reflecting on, however, is our Newsletter.

SEISMIC Project Manager Nita Tarchinski

Currently, the SEISMIC Newsletter has 726 subscribers and has released a total of 57 monthly issues. For almost five years, members of SEISMIC and other interested individuals have been receiving information about current Collaboration happenings including upcoming events, featured participants, and project updates. However, the SEISMIC Newsletter had humble beginnings: the first issue published in March of 2019 had just 64 recipients.

SEISMIC Project Manager Nita Tarchinski has been in charge of creating the monthly Newsletters since the beginning. She recalls that it was originally SEISMIC Director Tim McKay’s idea for a Newsletter in order to provide the collaboration with a regular communication mechanism. “No matter what, you were going to hear from us once a month, and that seemed like a good frequency to keep people engaged,” Nita explains. SEISMIC’s Newsletter is also open to those who are not at participating institutions but are interested in the type of work that SEISMIC does. Many of SEISMIC’s virtual talks are open to the public, welcoming those from outside the 10 member institutions.

 

Aside from regular updates related to the Collaboration itself, another regular component of the monthly Newsletters is the SEISMIC Voices series. Since the beginning, SEISMIC Voices has aimed to both help bring the community together and make members feel valued. “We were starting the community from zero. We were trying to make people feel seen,” Nita says. “Every month you’re seeing someone new and seeing another way that people have been involved.” Nita has been intentional about featuring a diverse set of voices, inviting people from different universities and disciplines, people who have held different institutional roles, and people who have been involved in SEISMIC in different ways. She has also tried to ensure that the Voices highlight SEISMIC’s gender and racial diversity.

In addition to showcasing SEISMIC’s members, Nita hopes that participating in SEISMIC Voices can act as a recommitment to the Collaboration: “It’s like this affirmation to them that we see them as a contributing member,” Nita explains. She hopes that by reflecting on their experiences, featured members are reminded of what they’ve enjoyed about the collaboration, and hopefully want to do more.

The SEISMIC Newsletter also has other uses, such as allowing members to share their own events and advertising swag created by SEISMIC Central. Moreover, the Newsletter has been used to gather feedback, both formally and informally. There have been times when members have replied to the Newsletters Nita sends out, cheering SEISMIC on and celebrating accomplishments that have been shared. “I’ve been so touched by that,” Nita says. Additionally, last month’s Newsletter featured a poll allowing members to vote for how SEISMIC should use its remaining funds. While the results didn’t show an immediate “winner”, members’ opinions will be considered when discussing plans for SEISMIC 2.0.

With many of SEISMIC’s projects winding down, Nita believes that next year could be a great opportunity to share lessons learned from SEISMIC 1.0, especially as SEISMIC Central and The Collaboration Council discuss what SEISMIC 2.0 will look like. This would involve a shift in the balance of content, involving less updating and more learning. While the Reflective Waves series supports this, Nita is also interested in sharing lessons directly from Working Groups and other teams.

Moving into our final year, the Newsletter continues to be a vital part of the SEISMIC community. Nita has done a fantastic job of managing and developing the Newsletter, and she has solidified its status as SEISMIC’s most popular way of sharing information. Going forward, SEISMIC Program Assistant Ashley Atkinson will be in charge of developing content for the Newsletter and hopes to continue the momentum that Nita has built. Ashley is welcoming new ideas for the Newsletter and can be reached at atkinash@umich.edu. She hopes that subscribers are excited for the Reflective Waves series!

 

 

Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, ensuring that SEISMIC initiatives have the help they need to run smoothly. Her primary responsibilities include maintaining the SEISMIC website, managing the Newsletter, and supporting projects. As an alum from Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication. She is currently pursuing an MA in Science Writing and Johns Hopkins University.

 

 

 

 

2023 SEISMIC Summer Meeting

By Ashley Atkinson, edited by Nita Tarchinski

Celebrating SEISMIC 1.0: The Final Summer Meeting

The SEISMIC Community gathers one last time to share accomplishments and discuss hopes for the future!

2023 SEISMIC Summer Meeting Group Photo

In early 2019, members of ten public research institutions came together to address a common observation: there is a persistent problem of inequity and non-inclusion in STEM introductory courses. Regardless of where in the country an institution was located, data analysis showed that student performance was affected by identity. Educators, researchers, students, and staff alike knew that change needed to happen, and that change needed to be both at a local level and, ultimately, across institutions. Thus, SEISMIC – Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses – was formed.

Fast forward four years, and SEISMIC has made shockwaves that traveled far beyond its epicenter. With four themed working groups engaging in collaborative work as well as individuals from different institutions teaming up, a plethora of presentations and publications have radiated from SEISMIC. In addition, ten Weeks of SEISMIC, three cohorts of SEISMIC Scholars, and four Annual Meetings have kept the community rumbling with enthusiasm.

As the original grant SEISMIC was founded on ends, one last Summer Meeting was needed to celebrate the collaboration’s accomplishments. The 2023 SEISMIC Summer Meeting took place Wednesday, June 21 through Friday, June 23 in Ann Arbor, MI. Featuring both in-person and hybrid events, the SEISMIC community gathered one final time to share research talks, workshops, panels, and posters. Just as importantly, the community considered what a “SEISMIC 2.0” would look like, and how momentum could continue.

Day One: Wednesday, June 21

The conference began Wednesday morning, with swag bags and breakfast for all. After participants had settled in, the Collaboration Council (CoCo) kicked off the conference with their Opening Remarks. The CoCo, designed to guide the activities of the collaboration and uphold the SEISMIC principles of operation, went over the 2023 SEISMIC Climate Survey Report by CEDER and shared some of our members’ accomplishments over the past year. Awarded grants, publications, podcasts, and other resources all deserved recognition.

After the CoCo’s presentation, participants had the opportunity to visit one of two rooms to participate in workshops and listen in on research talks. The first workshop was titled “Integrating Critical Perspectives into STEM Education” and was given by Dr. Natasha Turman. Dr. Turman did a fantastic job explaining the concepts of Deconstruction and Reconstruction and how they can be applied to STEM education. Dr. Matthew Kaplan and Dr. Denise Galarza Sepúlveda conducted a workshop called “The Ecosystem of Large Foundational Course” and explained how the complex web of relationships, motivations, and constraints at the instructor, departmental, and school levels function much like an ecosystem. Overall, both workshops provided important perspectives and effective tools for creating change in the classroom.

The Collaboration Council (CoCo)

Two research talks were given on Wednesday morning as well: “Leveraging cluster analysis to more deeply examine student success across SEISMIC campuses” presented by Dr. Kameryn Denaro and Dr. Brian Sato followed by “From courses to curricula: Integrating data science skills into life science education” presented by Dr. Nate Emery. Dr. Denaro and Dr. Sato described the Bright Spots project and how courses with minimal opportunity grade gaps can serve as models for more equitable STEM outcomes. Similarly, Dr. Emery discussed how The Biological and Environmental Data Education (BEDE) Network works to support instructors as they integrate data science skills into undergraduate biology and environmental science curricula. Already, the SEISMIC Summer Meeting was sparking conversation and inspiration, with plenty of discussions happening afterward!

That afternoon, conference participants enjoyed lunch while listening to keynote speaker Dr. Tati Russo-Tait, an Assistant Professor from the University of Georgia, present on her experience examining instructors’ beliefs to advance equity and justice in STEM learning environments. Dr. Russo-Tait described her process of interviewing STEM instructors and their attitudes towards deficit narratives, as well as how well they could identify racial injustice.

Afterward, three different panels took place, continuing the choose-your-own-adventure theme. Nita Tarchinski, SEISMIC’s Project Manager, hosted a panel on The STEM Equity Learning Community (SELC) Grant, and facilitators of the project shared their plans. Emily Bonem and her panel discussed Purdue’s Student Pedagogy Advocates (SPA) program, which enhances STEM teaching through student partnership. In addition, Lalo Gonzalez hosted a panel about the Office Hours project, giving an overview of the SEISMIC Project, and prompting other panelists to share their experiences. All three of these panels were a fantastic way to get a sneak peek at what it’s like to be a part of these projects.

The SELC Project Panel

One last workshop also occurred that afternoon, hosted by members of the Center for Academic Innovation at the University of Michigan: Kyle Small, Ben Hayward, and Holly Derry. They provided an overview of the ECoach technology developed to support students in their largest and most difficult courses. This workshop was also continued Thursday morning, where participants had more practice applying the ECoach technology.

Wednesday was wound down with a Tai Chi class with Madeleine Gonin and a Tap Dance Class with Kameryn Denaro – they were definitely needed!

Day Two: Thursday, June 22

After breakfast and some individual conversations Thursday morning, the momentum continued with participants breaking out into parallel sessions to listen to more research talks. Dr. Kameryn Denaro began the session with her presentation of the effects of concurrent enrollment preparatory courses on persistence in general chemistry. She discussed how various factors make preparatory courses either more successful or less, including how closely the prep class aligns with the core course and both the students’ and instructors’ attitudes toward the class. William Nicholas Bork Rodriguez also presented on a concurrent intervention: digital backchannels. Using an online forum board such as Piazza, students were able to ask questions anonymously during class or after. While Rodriguez’s study is still ongoing, gender-based performance gaps are already beginning to close. 

Dr. Sean Garrett-Roe’s research talk focused on student-centered assessment in large general chemistry courses. Dr. Garrett-Roe explained how Marzano’s Taxonomy could be applied to mastery-based grading and how this can increase student motivation to study for the course as well as improve grades. Dr. Jill Robinson’s research talk also focused on assessments in large chemistry courses. She described how by flipping her classroom, recruiting more undergraduate learning assistants, and offering additional assessments, she was able to promote and increase student success and sense of belonging.

Dr. Corrin Clarkson gave a fantastic talk on how she is currently using the Indiana University Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PEER) program to promote participation in courses. Small peer-led study sessions, promoted via email messages, were advertised to students during the Fall 2022 semester. Dr. Clarkson discussed the results and plans for the future. Dr. Becky Matz gave an equally impressive talk on giving behavioral nudges in STEM introductory courses using ECoach. Students received emails about their course related to information, structure, or assistance for making decisions. So far, the messaging has helped students overall, and different techniques will be experimented with in the future.

Dr. Kameryn Denaro

Dr. Sean Garrett-Roe

Offering an alternative perspective, Dr. Chandralekha Singh presented on ecological belonging interventions in STEM courses. She defined important terms such as stereotype threat and self-efficacy and how classroom practices can impact these. By addressing insecurities and doubts in the classroom, students can reflect and are more likely to have a sense of belonging. Finally, Dr. Madeleine Gonin and Dr. Nikeetha Farfan D’Souza gave a talk on designing and building equitable large classes using student feedback. Using a faculty learning community model, they worked with groups of instructors to analyze student feedback and understand motivations.

Dr. Archie Holmes

After lunch, keynote speaker Dr. Archie Holmes gave a presentation titled “Beyond the Classroom: UT System’s Approach to Ensuring Equitable Opportunities for All Students to Achieve Educational and Post-Graduation Success”. He provided insight into the inner workings of the University of Texas System and the support structures that exist for students’ intellectual and social development. He also highlighted the work that still needs to be accomplished and the importance of continuing the fight for equity and inclusion in higher education.

To close out Thursday, participants gathered for a group picture in front of Angell Hall (see the top of this blog post) before enjoying a poster reception in the LSA Multipurpose Room. With 15 posters on display, the reception was incredibly informative and a blast at the same time. In addition, people voted on which posters they wanted to hear about the following morning!

Day Three: Friday, June 23

Before hearing more about the posters that received the most votes, participants were able to make their own Treat To-Go bag with books recommended or written by SEISMIC members, snacks from Ann Arbor, and “vintage” SEISMIC swag! Finally, the CoCo closed out the conference with a panel featuring past and current SEISMIC leadership and some group Jamboards. Spirits were high as the best parts of SEISMIC 1.0 were highlighted and the hopes for SEISMIC 2.0 were voiced. Overall, everyone could agree on one thing: the community is the core. We are more powerful in numbers, can impact more people, and can make more change.

Treats-to-go!

While no one is quite sure when the next in-person meeting will be, the need for the important work SEISMIC does remains. As SEISMIC 1.0 winds down, the motivation to fight for equity and inclusion in STEM introductory courses remains steadfast. Regardless of what the future of SEISMIC looks like, the members of SEISMIC will continue to fight for the progress that must occur.

The 2023 SEISMIC Scholars – Welcome!

 

 

Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, lending a hand to whichever projects need support. Her primary projects include the SEISMIC website, making graphics for various efforts, and editing a podcast. As an alum from Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication. She is currently pursuing an MA in Science Writing and Johns Hopkins University.

 

Nita Tarchinski

Nita Tarchinski is the Project Manager for the Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses (SEISMIC) Collaboration, coordinating multi-institutional and multidisciplinary research and teaching projects focused on making introductory STEM courses more equitable and inclusive.

 

 

 

 

University of California Davis Week of SEISMIC

By Nita Tarchinski, edited by Ashley Atkinson

I Open at the Close*

UC Davis Week of SEISMIC, February 6-8, 2023

And that’s a wrap! 10 Weeks of SEISMIC in the books. Excuse me while I go take a nap…

In all seriousness, the University of California Davis Week of SEISMIC was a lovely way to wrap up this year-long adventure. The weather was beautiful, the talks were highly engaging, SEISMIC Bingo brought out the SEISMIC pride, and the project meetings were quite productive.  

The week began with project meetings for the SEISMIC STEM Equity Learning Communities (SELC) project. More information about this NSF-funded project can be found here. A big task for this team was to sketch out plans for the launch event taking place back in Davis in May. The multitude of white boards and big sticky notepads in the room did not disappoint. The team wrapped up the day with solid plans for the upcoming May Institute. Look for details on this project in an upcoming SEISMIC newsletter.

On Tuesday, Heather Rypkema launched us into a deep dive on “Course Equity Reports: Using Institutional Data to Inform Course Design and Promote Awareness of Outcome Disparities.” Participants learned about the importance for equity reporting, equity measures used in the University of Michigan Course Equity Reports, and other related initiatives. Meaghan Pearson presented next on the Student Perspectives project in the Constructs Working Group. Through this project, researchers interviewed students to understand how they describe inclusive and equitable classrooms. Common themes for inclusive classrooms included, “everyone participates” and “open to other perspectives.” For equitable classrooms, common themes included, “has support structures” and “instruction approachable.” Jonathan Bragg, our new UC Davis SEISMIC PI, took the stage next for an overview of the First-Year Experience Program: BioLaunch at UC Davis. Four undergraduate students – Freddy Camacho Oviedo, Anahí Mora, Gustavo Landeros Mireles, and Julia Estrada – joined us next for a panel on student experiences in STEM. One recommendation that came out of this panel for introductory STEM professors was – “forgiveness through the learning process.” We closed out the day with delicious guacamole and more tasty treats at happy hour, an energizing game of SEISMIC bingo with swag prizes, and dinner at My Burma. What a day!

Wednesday morning started with a presentation from Nikeetha Farfan D’Souza on the importance of equity in the classroom, how we conceptualize it, and current projects in the Constructs Working Group. Joel Ledford and Susan Keen then provided insights into “co-classes” and their utility for students. Our keynote presentation by Renée Link on specifications-based grading carried us through lunch, with great tips on how to really switch up assessment practices, even for huge classes. Natalia Deeb-Sossa, Lina Mendez, and Natalia Caporale presented on a recent project about gathering “student perceptions of spaces on campus” and shared interesting perspectives on safe vs. unsafe spaces. We wrapped up the afternoon and Week with presentations from Korana Burke (flexible grading), Robert Furrow and Cody Pham (creative and non-judgmental figure exploration as a way to reduce student fear of negative evaluation), and Victoria Farrar (perspectives on curving in classes)!

Thank you to everyone who presented, organized, participated, and engaged with our Weeks of SEISMIC! You made these Weeks. Looking forward to seeing you all in June for our SEISMIC Summer Meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Registration details are posted on our Summer Meeting page.

*  Harry Potter reference, anyone?

 

 

Nita Tarchinski

Nita Tarchinski is the Project Manager for the Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses (SEISMIC) Collaboration, coordinating multi-institutional and multidisciplinary research and teaching projects focused on making introductory STEM courses more equitable and inclusive.

Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, lending a hand to whichever projects need support. Her primary projects include the SEISMIC website, making graphics for various efforts, and editing a podcast. As an alum from Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication.

 

 

 

 

University of Pittsburgh Week of SEISMIC

By Nita Tarchinski, edited by Ashley Atkinson

Talk, Eat, Talk, Repeat!

University of Pittsburgh Week of SEISMIC, January 16-19, 2023

 

 

 

 

Our ninth Week of SEISMIC kicked off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day last month with a virtual presentation by Kevin Binning and Erica McGreevy on “Creating Community in Large-Lecture College STEM Courses: An Ecological-Belonging Intervention.” The rest of the week followed parallel formats of a plenary talk or two, a series of lightning talks, then lunch and table discussions with the presenters of the day.

Tuesday’s plenary was by Chris Schunn and Jenny Ganger on “A New Model for Evaluation of Teaching at Pitt.” The new model includes, (1) an Annual Evaluation involving reflection and self-reporting, (2) Observation of Teaching, and (3) Addressing Promotion and Tenure / Reappointment Teaching Portfolios. Our speakers shared a useful webpage with resources they found helpful for improving their teaching (Teaching in Psych).

Lightning talk topics included the Pitt ECoach pilot, student perspectives on the barriers to office hours, TA training for introductory physics labs, and more. A hearty Chipotle lunch kept us fueled for the table discussions. Later that day we gathered again for a happy hour on the 7th floor of Alumni Hall, which included an incredible art installation showing perspectives of the city, all with the Cathedral of Learning somewhere in the view.

On Wednesday, Nita Tarchinski gave her usual talk on “Opportunities to Engage with the SEISMIC Collaboration,” with additional information on our two new SEISMIC grants and how the Pittsburgh SEISMIC community can get involved. Tim Nokes-Malach presented on “Developing and Testing a Mindfulness Intervention for Introductory Physics Courses.” Some of the themes that came up for student psychological threat included social comparison, exam worries, and lack of understanding. Lightning Talk presenters shared insights on co-teaching in Economics, inclusive teaching in large enrollment courses, ungrading in STEM courses, and plenty more. Delicious wraps, pita bread, and baklava from Forbes Gyro kept us energized for the small group discussions. Some members from the local SEISMIC team gathered for dinner that night at Butterjoint for absolutely delicious appetizers, desserts, and everything in between.

The final day began with Sean Garret-Roe’s plenary presentation on “Toward the vision of student-centered teaching and assessment in General Chemistry.” Sean emphasized the importance of developing assessments aligned with learning objectives and shared an interesting approach for creating assessment questions for general chemistry. We wrapped up our Week of SEISMIC with amazing bowls from Roots Natural Kitchen and one last session of table discussions.

Thank you to all of our presenters who contributed during this week: Kevin Binning, Erica McGreevy, Chris Schunn, Jenny Ganger, Jeremy Levy, Dan Wetzel, Russel Clark, Lingfeng (Kitty) Liu, Kirill Kiselyov, Eugene Wagner, Nita Tarchinski, Tim Nokes-Malach, Kevin Shaver, John Radzilowicz, Lizette Muñoz Rojas, Sean Garrett-Roe, Ben Rottman, Zuzana Swigonova, and David Sanchez!

Next up: Davis, CA for our 10th Week of SEISMIC!

 

 

Nita Tarchinski

Nita Tarchinski is the Project Manager for the Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses (SEISMIC) Collaboration, coordinating multi-institutional and multidisciplinary research and teaching projects focused on making introductory STEM courses more equitable and inclusive.

Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, lending a hand to whichever projects need support. Her primary projects include the SEISMIC website, making graphics for various efforts, and editing a podcast. As an alum from Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication.

 

 

 

 

Arizona State University Week of SEISMIC

By Nita Tarchinski, edited by Ashley Atkinson

Summer Sun, SEISMIC Fun

Arizona State University Week of SEISMIC, November 7-11, 2022

Our November Week of SEISMIC took place in Tempe, AZ at Arizona State University. Highlights of this week included the Natural Sciences Inclusion Summit, table-side guacamole at Barrio Queen, and a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden.

External participants arrived in town on Monday and spent some time exploring Tempe, including a lovely rooftop sunset view followed by a passionate race down 18 flights of stairs.

On Tuesday, members of the Constructs Working Group gathered to brainstorm new writing projects. After, multiple SEISMIC members presented to the Biology and Society Lab group at ASU on current SEISMIC activity. This included a presentation from Chris Mead on SEISMIC-type measurements, a presentation from James Hammond on central questions in the Constructs Working Group, and a presentation by Nita Tarchinski on how to get involved in SEISMIC. Particularly engaged audience members left the session with some new SEISMIC swag.

Later in the afternoon, Carson Byrd gave a talk on his book, “Behind the Diversity Numbers: Achieving Racial Equity on Campus.” We wrapped up the day with a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden with cacti aplenty!

Wednesday was the all-day Natural Sciences Inclusion Summit. This conference, co-sponsored by the ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Research for Inclusive STEM Education (RISE) Center, included several presentations from members of the ASU community and the SEISMIC community. Paul LePore shared a few measures to consider for student success, including retention in a major and retention at a university. Carson Byrd encouraged researchers to think about their ideal project to study racial (in)equity on their campus, and then to ask themselves:

  • “What is available on campus to pursue the project?
  • What other obstacles exist?
  • What questions and methodologies are left for viable projects?”

Susan Cheng emphasized the importance of “recognizing that presence isn’t automatic inclusion.” Following the packed day of presentations, several of us went to Barrio Queen for delicious Mexican food.

Thursday began with a presentation from Susan Cheng on “Gaining momentum for disciplinary change: A systems approach to departmental leadership in DEI.” Susan shared a design framework for department DEI momentum built on three stages – spark, solidify, and sustain – and used her own work in the mechanical engineering department at the University of Michigan for key examples.

After a hearty Mediterranean lunch, Constructs Working Group members gathered again to solidify writing plans. Meanwhile, Anna James was immersing herself in ASU’s Dreamscape experience.

We wrapped up ASU’s Week of SEISMIC with a pizza dinner and attendance at the ASU Pitchforks’ annual fall concert. What a blast! Thanks to ASU for hosting us!

 

 

Nita Tarchinski

Nita Tarchinski is the Project Manager for the Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses (SEISMIC) Collaboration, coordinating multi-institutional and multidisciplinary research and teaching projects focused on making introductory STEM courses more equitable and inclusive.

Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, lending a hand to whichever projects need support. Her primary projects include the SEISMIC website, making graphics for various efforts, and editing a podcast. As an alum from Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication.

 

 

 

 

Indiana University Week of SEISMIC

By Ashley Atkinson, edited by Nita Tarchinski

Immersive Ideas in Indiana

Indiana University Week of SEISMIC, October 18-20, 2022

Indiana University’s Week of SEISMIC was jam-packed with action and excitement! From the Indiana Memorial Union to Cedar Hall, our schedule was filled with great people, fantastic presentations, and yummy food. All three days were filled with activities and everyone was exhausted by the end of Thursday’s presentations.

Martha Oakley, the Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and a Professor of Chemistry at Indiana University, kicked Tuesday morning’s session off with a warm welcome to both Zoom and in-person participants. Over 35 people attended total! After Martha spoke, Chantal Levesque-Bristol, Executive Director of the Center for Instructional Excellence at Purdue University, gave a fantastic talk on her book Student-Centered Pedagogy and Course Transformation at Scale: Facilitating Faculty Agency to IMPACT Institutional Change. During her presentation, she described the Purdue University IMPACT Program and how it has grown over time.

Book Cover

With the IMPACT Program launching in 2011, this project has been going for a long time. However, the theoretical framework guiding faculty development and course redesign has been around since 1985. Self-Determination Theory (or SDT) asserts that all humans – including both students and faculty – have three basic psychological needs: autonomy, which is comprised of having choice, options, and agency; competence, encompassing mastery of skills and knowledge, feedback, and structure; and relatedness, which embraces connection, belonging, and care. Using this framework as a launching point, IMPACT’s aim became to support instructors in bettering their teaching practices in order to create student-centered, autonomy-supportive, and inclusive learning environments to foster student success. With continuous efforts and education, the rate of students receiving a D, F, or W (withdrawal) in the courses fell by an average of 5%, but some of the 2000 courses involved saw up to a 30% reduction. Generating such positive results has led to institutional change, including the creation of a learning center.

Even though there is great progress being made to address the issues within higher education, Tim McKay’s talk on the next steps for addressing systemic inequities in higher education reminded us there’s still work to be done. Tim, the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education at the University of Michigan, reminded us that systemic inequities persist when they favor the privileged and we educate with rules established in the past and enforced by those who benefit from the current system. We continue to rely on standardized test scores and utilize ‘weed-out’ courses. Changing these structures requires collective action. Collective action can only be achieved when institutions and disciplines collaborate, and SEISMIC exists to create a space for collaboration and support new research projects. Throughout the past few years, we as an organization have produced papers, presentations, and – most importantly – change within classrooms. So what’s next?

flyer by Ashley Atkinson

Enter our new National Science Foundation awarded project: STEM Equity Learning Communities, or SELCs. The goal is to establish SELCs in universities across the U.S. that will foster impactful approaches for engaging people in equity-minded discussions of their STEM courses. We believe that when SELCs use course equity measures, co-develop interpretations of the data and action plans, and present their findings to campus leadership, they will develop equity-mindedness and be well-positioned to promote this mindset in their departments. The SELC project begins at the start of the 2023-2024 academic year and we are excited to see its progress!

Tuesday morning’s session concluded with a fantastic talk from Mary Murphy, a Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. Mary spoke on creating cultures of inclusion in STEM, prompting all of us to reflect on what we were doing within our own classrooms to create a welcoming environment.

The afternoon began with talks from our Measurement Working Group  after introductory remarks from Sabrina Andrews and Martha Oakley. One interesting talk was Kameryn Denaro’s presentation on opportunity gaps present across biology students. Kameryn – a Research Specialist within the Postsecondary Education Research and Implementation Institute at UC Irvine – and her team were able to gain access to five different institutions’ data on biology student demographics and performance. To assess for opportunity gaps, students were grouped by race, first-generation status, low-income status, and sex. Kameryn’s team found that opportunity gaps differed by institution, with some institutions having much larger student performance differences than others. The team’s next goal is to investigate what is causing those gaps.

Following the Measurement Group, Corrin Clarkson, Montserrat Valdivia, and Gipsi Sera shared their story and research on assessment quality in large undergraduate classes. They explained how some assessment questions can be inequitable for students. For example, a physics question involving a baseball game may seem like a fair question for all, but the question becomes unnecessarily difficult if a student is not familiar with how baseball works. By sorting questions by accuracy based on student demographics, inequitable questions can reveal themselves.

Madeleine Gonin and Nikeetha Farfan D’Souza spoke about designing and building equitable classes using student feedback and the session closed with Emily Bonem encouraging us all to think about what the future of SEISMIC should look like. What questions should we ask next? Where should we focus our efforts?

Tuesday evening ended with a reception, where many were able to catch up with old friends and make new ones. Afterwards, some headed to Taste of India for great food and more discussions. It was a fantastic way to end the first day of our week.

After a grant preparation meeting for the Bright Spots proposal team, Wednesday morning’s presentations were focused on fostering equity in STEM classrooms. The first presentation by Carmen Henne-Ochaoa was all about the Kovener Teaching Fellows Program and the ideas behind its goals. Carmen challenged us to look inwards and question why we find it uncomfortable to see and treat students as “people who have memories, families, religions, feelings, languages, and cultures that give them a distinct voice.” More importantly, why are we uncomfortable sharing all of that about ourselves with students? The key concept is vulnerability. Without vulnerability on both sides, faculty and students are unable to learn about each other outside of surface-level interactions. By thinking about who we are as people, or who we are as teachers, we can begin to explore sharing experiences with students and incorporating who we are into our lessons.

Rebecca Itow, David Pace, and William Robison spoke about the barrier between high school and college and how we can break down the transition to college. They informed us on the differing expectations between high school counselors and college admissions representatives.

Another insightful talk was Nikeetha Farfan D’Souza’s presentation on equitable STEM classrooms. Nikeetha, Associate Director for Student Support and Bias Responses at Indiana University, walked us through how our identity as an individual isn’t our whole story – we are also influenced by our culture, the people in power, and history. She went on to explain that equity is like gardening – you don’t punish a plant for not growing, you change the environment it’s growing in. It’s the same for students – if they are not succeeding, there are problems with the system they exist in, not problems within the student.

At lunch Nita Tarchinski, SEISMIC’s Project Manager, and Ashley Atkinson, one of our Program Assistants in SEISMIC Central, entertained participants with an exciting game of SEISMIC-themed Jeopardy! We tested our audience’s knowledge of our collaboration and we certainly had some superstars. Plenty of swag was won and we had a great time.

Wednesday afternoon brought the first part of our session focused on student-centered approaches. Amy Berndtson’s talk on using peer instruction to enhance student engagement and success in a biology course was quite engaging, especially with former undergraduate learning assistants in the audience. She explained that her undergraduate teaching assistants (UTAs) were selected by hand and thoroughly trained on providing engaging and helpful instruction. Moreover, she provided them with tools to use while educating. Not only has this led to meaningful mentorship, but student success in the course has risen as UTAs have continued to be utilized.

Other presentations included Paul Graf and Gerhard Glomm speaking on the fundamentals of economics for a diverse student body, Gavin LaRose giving a talk on mastery grading in pre-calculus and how the calculus curriculum was reformed at the University of Michigan, and George Rehrey sharing about the TRESTLE Project and supporting communities around evidence-based teaching in STEM. We wrapped up the formal Wednesday activities with another meeting for the Bright Spots grant-writing team.

We had the pleasure of visiting Pottery House Studio and painting pottery pieces of our own. We highly recommend giving Pottery House Studio a visit if you are nearby!

Thursday morning began with another Bright Spots grant meeting. The team made progress outlining the needs of the grant and how individuals will be involved. Our final session of talks – the second part of our student-centered approaches theme – took place right after. So many fantastic presentations were given, including Jill Robinson’s talk on multiple assessment opportunities in a large general chemistry course. Typical chemistry courses tend to evaluate a student’s success based on a few large exams and maybe a number of quizzes. However, this leads to a high rate of students dropping or failing after one or two assessments. It was found that at Indiana University, combining flipped learning, second attempts at exams, and group exams increased the pass rate of the course.

 

Laura Brown, a senior lecturer at Indiana University, also discussed course modifications, although hers were within organic chemistry II. Combined with new assessments such as peer review assignments and weekly group discussion quizzes, Laura utilized modules that showcased the world of chemistry, created scientist spotlights that highlighted diversity in the field, and informed students what a chemistry degree could be used for. All of these efforts combined led to an overall decrease in “grade anomalies,” a phenomenon where a student receives a grade in a course that differs from their GPA. While some groups saw improvement (such as female and out-of-state students), other groups like first-generation students and Pell-eligible students saw an increase in grade penalty. Laura and her team are working to figure out why that is.

Other spectacular folks that presented include Martha Oakley discussing mastery-based grading in general chemistry, Akesha Horton with three approaches for supporting STEM pedagogical practices, and Renée Link with a thoughtful presentation on specifications grading.

Our final scheduled event of the day was the Student Panel and it was interesting to hear from students at Indiana University describe their experience with equity and inclusion in STEM introductory courses. The consensus was that while classrooms are not where they need to be in terms of equity, more and more people are beginning to try. We were left with the impression that we need to keep fighting for what we believe in and fight for the students that are living in the system we help to maintain.

Overall, the IU Week of SEISMIC was a success. The event sparked so many new ideas and discussions and many were able to form new connections. In fact, many began to wonder what SEISMIC 2.0 should look like, especially after Emily asked us to consider what we would envision if we had unlimited resources. We are looking forward to reconnecting at future Weeks of SEISMIC and our 2023 SEISMIC Summer Meeting in Ann Arbor, MI.

 

 

Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, lending a hand to whichever projects need support. Her primary projects include the SEISMIC website, making graphics for various efforts, and editing a podcast. As an alum from Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication.

 

Nita Tarchinski

Nita Tarchinski is the Project Manager for the Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses (SEISMIC) Collaboration, coordinating multi-institutional and multidisciplinary research and teaching projects focused on making introductory STEM courses more equitable and inclusive.

 

 

 

University of Minnesota Week of SEISMIC

By Nita Tarchinski, edited by Ashley Atkinson

All Gas, No Breaks

University of Minnesota Week of SEISMIC, September 26-30, 2022

We kicked off our second half of the Weeks of SEISMIC with a lovely week in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Learning from the spring Weeks of SEISMIC, we narrowed down our activities to three days, with time to explore the local area as well.  

Tuesday was a virtual day that began with lightning talks from five UMN speakers – Anita Schucardt, Joel Schneider, Michelle Driessen, Meaghan Stein, and Abdi Warfa. These lightning talks, affectionately referred to by Jesse Lewis as “midwestern thunderstorms” given their not-so-lightning pace, showcased local efforts to make introductory STEM courses more equitable and inclusive. Questions that came up during these talks pointed to shared challenges associated with changing introductory STEM courses. In particular, the common faculty question of, “how do I do these changes given the limited time I have with my students?”

Next up was a series of Measurement Working Group presentations from seven members of the Working Group – Becky Matz, Meaghan Pearson, Sarah Castle, Stefano Fiorini, Angel Sylvester, Kameryn Denaro, and Victoria Farrar. This session provided a phenomenal overview of projects in the Measurement Working Group and how our collaborators are approaching their work.  Meaghan Pearson challenged us to consider the motivations for our work, consider how our lived experiences shape how we approach our work,  and to use structural measures instead of individual identity variables for our Measurements work. We wrapped up the evening with a delicious dinner at Aster Cafe.

Day 2 started with a presentation from Project Manager Nita Tarchinski on the different aspects of SEISMIC and how to get involved. As usual, this presentation was accompanied by SEISMIC trivia questions and opportunities to take home some SEISMIC swag. Participants also shared ideas for advertising our 2023 SEISMIC Scholars undergraduate research program to wider audiences, including using the LSAMP and TRIO networks.

Sarah Hammarlund was up next with a presentation on the Belonging Project and its impact on STEM courses at UMN. Sarah shared insights on the efficacy of the sense of belonging interventions and how instructors might move forward to support students’ sense of belonging. Instructors interested to try the intervention in their courses are welcome to reach out to Sarah for materials (hamma111@umn.edu).

The UMN students of SEISMIC were next, reflecting on the work they’ve done in SEISMIC and where they are now. Former SEISMIC Scholars Arianna Stancari and Kaitlyn Mateychuk presented, as well as former Measurement fellow Angel Sylvester and current Research Coordinator Jesse Lewis. Some themes from the student presentations included SEISMIC doing a great job of providing connections for individuals and SEISMIC providing a way in for students to understand inequity in STEM education.

We wrapped up our presentations with a book talk from W. Carson Byrd on his recent book, “Behind the Diversity Numbers: Achieving Racial Equity on Campus,” followed by a book signing for in-person attendees.

Dinner was lovely in a private room at the Campus Club, with a sunset view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline.

The final day began with a presentation from Kristin Osiecki on lessons from the UMN Teaching and Learning Center. Kristin shared an important message that, “DEI is more than student demographics. Defining student groups creates stigmas and reinforces power and privilege structures.”

Lalo Gonzalez was our final speaker with a presentation on the Office Hours project. After collecting data for several terms on office hours practices and student experiences, Lalo had a few key recommendations for instructors. First, to “demystify and demythify” the purpose of office hours. This involves being explicit about what office hours are for and addressing misconceptions students may have about them. Another recommendation was to offer additional options for the timing of office hours.

We wrapped up the UMN Week of SEISMIC with reflections on how the week went and next steps for the UMN team. One more meal on the patio of the Campus Club, and the Week came to a close. One thing is for sure – with the packed afternoon schedule, we were really all gas, no breaks! We look forward to visiting again soon!

 

 

 

Nita Tarchinski

Nita Tarchinski is the Project Manager for the Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses (SEISMIC) Collaboration, coordinating multi-institutional and multidisciplinary research and teaching projects focused on making introductory STEM courses more equitable and inclusive.

Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, lending a hand to whichever projects need support. Her primary projects include the SEISMIC website, making graphics for various efforts, and editing a podcast. As an alum from Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication.

 

 

 

 

Michigan State Week of SEISMIC

By Nita Tarchinski, edited by Ashley Atkinson

I’ve Never Seen So Much Green

Michigan State University Week of SEISMIC, May 16-19, 2022

The final Week of SEISMIC of the spring is here, is anyone else feeling a little teary-eyed? East Lansing was a wonderful venue to wrap up the first five Weeks, offering plenty of beautiful trees and walking paths to prompt reflection and mindfulness.

We started off with a meeting for the Backchannel Project research team to discuss analysis plans for the data already collected and to be collected, accompanied by some sweet pie from the Grand Traverse Pie Company.

From there we transitioned to STEM Education Presentations and Social to build connections across the MSU STEM Education community. Ryan Sweeder provided a brief introduction to the SEISMIC collaboration and MSU’s place in it. Nita Tarchinski gave a lengthier presentation on the different activities of the collaboration and how individuals can engage in it, followed by a SEISMIC Trivia game offering the chance to bring home some new SEISMIC swag. Perry Samson took the microphone next, sharing on the SEISMIC CLUEs project he leads.

After these talks, several attendees took the opportunity to participate in 1-minute lightning talks to provide brief introductions to themselves and their work at MSU. The lightning talks were a great way for audience members to learn just enough about each person to prompt deeper conversations over food and drinks later in the session.

In Day 2 we transitioned to an intense writing retreat for an upcoming SEISMIC grant proposal. 6 straight hours of work for the in-person contingent, 4 of which included our virtual team as well, resulted in a clear and concise 10-step project plan for the grant, as well as established writing roles for each member, a collective understanding of the goals and approaches for the project, and identified pilot data to be analyzed. A much-needed scenic walk following the retreat helped to clear the mind, and the cosmik fries at Hopcat did not disappoint.

 

 

Wednesday’s focus was on making connections between the STEM education community and university administrators. Mark Largent, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education & Dean of Undergraduate Studies, provided helpful context for those curious about MSU’s efforts towards an inclusive STEM community, followed by a presentation by Marco Molinaro on using institutional data to motivate change.Then, the in-person and virtual attendees engaged in small-group discussions on the question – “How can institutional data help advance teaching at MSU?”

Next, Renata Opoczynski, Assistant Dean for Student Success Assessment and Strategic Initiatives, provided a useful overview of the tools available to MSU members to examine student institutional and classroom data. This presentation was followed by more hybrid discussions, this time on “How can we create better communication between researchers and administrative policy makers at different levels to advance all our efforts?” 

The MSU Week of SEISMIC wrapped up with one-on-one and small group meetings to reflect on the successes of this and the other Weeks of SEISMIC and how to move forward productively from here.

We hope to see you in the next academic year as we continue our Weeks of SEISMIC at the University of Minnesota, the University of Pittsburgh, Arizona State University, Indiana University, and the University of California Davis!

 

 

Nita Tarchinski

Nita Tarchinski is the Project Manager for the Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses (SEISMIC) Collaboration, coordinating multi-institutional and multidisciplinary research and teaching projects focused on making introductory STEM courses more equitable and inclusive.

Ashley Atkinson

Ashley Atkinson is a Program Assistant for SEISMIC Central, lending a hand to whichever projects need support. Her primary projects include the SEISMIC website, making graphics for various efforts, and editing a podcast. As an alum from Michigan State University, Ashley is passionate about equity and inclusion in STEM alongside science communication.