Overview

 

At our 2020 SEISMIC Summer Meeting, we heard from participants a desire to more formally connect the work of our Working Groups. 

Our Working Groups are named “Measurement”, “Experiments”, “Implementing Change”, and “Constructs” because these are all parts of larger processes for institutional change. Working Groups all have projects that members work on.

Themes tie together the knowledge gained through SEISMIC projects within Working Groups to focus on specific SEISMIC goals and to make SEISMIC-level recommendations. Themes enable us to collaborate across the organization, intentionally bringing together experts in DEI scholarship, STEM teaching faculty, campus leaders, and institutional researchers. The outputs from Themes work towards our goals for large-scale improvement in equity and inclusion in introductory STEM courses.

In December 2020 we launched our first theme: Policies, Practices, and Assessments for Change.

 

 

 

Theme: Policies, Practices, and Assessments for Change

Guiding Question

What are the best data-driven policies, practices, and assessment strategies to promote STEM classroom equity, and how can departments incorporate these strategies across their introductory courses?

 

Theme Leaders

Anna James

University of California, Santa Barbara

Assistant Teaching Professor

ajames@ucsb.edu

Sabrina Solanki

University of California Irvine

Academic Administrator, Education Research Initiative

ssolanki@uci.edu

Theme Leader Reports

The following report details activities Theme leaders engaged in during the 2020-2021 calendar year. It also provides recommendations for future activities and about positions to help the collaboration reach its goals. 

 I. Provisional Expectations

Below, we summarize the provisional expectations for the theme position provided by the SEISMIC collaboration. The full description can be found here

Theme Leaders will determine appropriate deliverables for each Theme. This could involve developing a set of recommendations, running workshops for the collaboration, publishing papers on their findings, or other activities. Once this is established, the Themes will connect with Working Groups and project teams as needed to learn what the collaboration has done related to these Themes, and what is missing. 

Each Theme is responsible for organizing at least two SEISMIC-wide events in 2021. Events the Themes might hold include facilitated discussions, workshops, talk presentations, and more. These events will be an opportunity for the Themes to share what they are learning, get feedback, and stay connected to the collaboration. Each Theme will also provide a progress report to the SEISMIC Collaboration Council twice a year, including details on their most recent event, how they are making progress on their set of goals and deliverables, and upcoming plans to apply for funding. Finally, each Theme will present an update on their work at the 2021 SEISMIC Summer Meeting.

 

 

II. 2020-2021 Theme Activities 

The theme leaders engaged in a number of activities to connect SEISMIC members and to identify collaboration needs. These activities started with a number of meetings to get to know the collaboration better. We also created a podcast as a means to inform SEISMIC members and beyond about the work being generated in the collaboration. And lastly, we broadened participation in the collaboration by engaging with undergraduate students and providing them with research experiences. We describe these activities in detail below.   

Meetings to get to know the collaboration

A key take-away from our experience as Theme leaders has been to recognize the substantial time needed to familiarize ourselves with the Working Group projects and overall SEISMIC framework towards providing meaningful recommendations. To achieve this understanding of the collaboration, we attended many of the monthly Working Group meetings, individual meetings with WG co-chairs, as well as the “workshops” hosted early last year during which each of the WGs shared updates about their projects. We want to note that the meetings to familiarize ourselves with the SEISMIC collaboration and Working Group projects took roughly 50% of our time as Theme Leaders. These meetings identified two “Big-takeaways” we outline below in section III. 

Office Hours Podcast

Based on our early discussions with Nita and the Working Groups, it became clear that a platform to increase exposure of the projects being conducted across SEISMIC would be useful to enhance opportunities for cross-WG collaborations. As a result, we decided to pursue the development of a podcast and to use this platform to highlight key projects and research within the collaboration. Our first season focuses on the SEISMIC community and aims to create awareness about all of the great work being done by SEISMIC members. In each episode, the audience will learn more about the SEISMIC members’ work and how they contribute to the SEISMIC mission. We currently have raw recordings of 5 interviews and will continue to edit and finalize these episodes during the Spring.

SEISMIC Scholars Program

As part of the Summer of SEISMIC, the Themes group co-developed and led the first iteration of the SEISMIC Scholars program. This program aims to increase participation of minoritized and low-income undergraduate students in research relevant to their undergraduate experiences and provide networking opportunities to foster a diverse STEM environment. Students gain a summer stipend, develop confidence as practitioners of science through hands-on research experience, foster connections with faculty and graduate student mentors, and take part in a series of professional development workshops. Surveys throughout the summer provide direct insight regarding the impacts of mentorship (research and navigational), technical skills (workshops on coding and data analysis, for example), and community building on psychosocial factors such as student sense of belonging and self-efficacy. This work aims to reverse models that too often “push-out” new students to research, and to offer best-practices that aid students in building foundational knowledge and technical know-how as they enter research.

In our first iteration of this program we had 77 applicants, 13 of whom were selected to serve as our first cohort of SEISMIC Scholars in summer 2021. In collaboration with Drs. Vanessa Woods & Mike Wilton, as well as Nita Kedharnath Tarchinski, we developed a 10-week program focusing on the development of professional capacities such as building professional networks, constructing CVs and personal statements, communicating research findings, and gaining critical data-science experience to empower our students as they enter a data-rich world. We sought out further support through an S-STEM proposal to fund the continuation of this SEISMIC program (submitted in early 2022 with Nita Kedharnath Tarchinski).

Triangulation “Data Dashboards”

Early on, the three of us discussed the idea of putting together a SEISMIC data dashboard, a place where people could find definitions of key variables to measure student success and relevant code to generate these variables using institutional data. We also discussed having a tab for instructor resources such as links to relevant primary literature and example analyses. After a number of meetings, however, we chose not to move forward with the data dashboard idea because many institutions were already hosting their own. We still consider it valuable to have SEISMIC level student success metrics and the collaboration should consider ways to put together a manual outlining them for the collaboration and the broader science community. 

 

 

III. Big Takeaways 

  • The SEISMIC scholars program fulfilled a need shared by working groups and also satisfied a goal of expanding the SEISMIC network to undergraduate students. The SEISMIC Scholars program should continue to be an integral part of the SEISMIC collaboration and the collaboration should think about ways to fund the program.  
  • Based on the meetings we had with SEISMIC members, there is a need for a grants manager, a person to make members aware of grant opportunities, help facilitate the collaboration of grants, and help with the writing process.
  • We heard a number of interesting ideas during the meetings we had with SEISMIC members. Many of them, however, haven’t taken off. For example, James Hammond, shared interest in developing a SEISMIC knowledge base, a place to upload content relevant to the collaboration. The solicitation of resources from SEISMIC members wasn’t met with enthusiasm. That being said, at this point, there are a number of great ideas brewing among members and revisiting them would be a fruitful path forward for the collaboration.