The purpose of the Centred on Learning Innovation Fund is to stimulate the development, implementation, and assessment of innovative teaching and learning. Click on 'Abstract' to read more about this year’s proposals:
Building Program THRIVE (Tools Helping Reach Individual Values and Empowerment): Fostering self-regulated learning strategies for academic success in first-year biology courses
Isabelle Barrette-Ng, Department of Integrative Biology; Michelle Bondy, Faculty of Science; Dora Cavallo-Medved, Department of Biomedical Sciences; & Trevor Pitcher, Great Lakes Institute For Environmental Research
The transition from high school to university can be challenging. First-year gateway courses expect students to have developed self-regulated learning (SRL) strategies that allow them to learn large amounts of content. Unfortunately, there is typically little time available to show students how to develop and use SRL strategies. In the Faculty of Science, BIOL-1101 and BIOL-1111 are two gateway courses that 500-600 incoming students complete in their first year. Coming from diverse academic backgrounds, students in these courses have a varying range of skill sets, and frequently request extra support, tutoring and resources. A successful pilot tutorial session implemented in Fall 2020 suggests that a more extensive series of tutorials founded on the development of SRL strategies could be a solution to these concerns. Informed by studies which sought to increase academic performance in a diverse population of first-year students, we propose to create and implement Program THRIVE in both BIOL-1101 and BIOL-1111 beginning in 2021. Through voluntary, weekly online tutorials with embedded SRL strategies, students will: (1) be provided with an overview of content covered in the previous week; (2) engaged in interactive activities and discussions; and (3) invited to reflect on their learning. The effect of the tutorials on student self-efficacy, motivation, engagement and academic performance will be evaluated by validated instruments and focus groups. The results of the project will inform future best practices in large enrollment courses to create engaging learning experiences that provide a rich student experience, and help with student retention and recruitment.
Examining how research group/lab ethnic diversity influences the persistence of the BIPOC community in Science
Tricia Carmichael, Department of Chemistry And Biochemistry & Michael Godfrey, Faculty of Science
Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) students graduate from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines at a much lower rate compared to their White peers (Estrada et al., 2016; National Center for Education Statistics, 2005). Although scholars have identified several factors that contribute to BIPOC student attrition from STEM disciplines (e.g., stereotypes; Beasley & Fisher, 2012), there is a limited understanding of how the ethnic composition of students’ academic groups influence their persistence. As such, the general purpose of this project is to understand how BIPOC individuals’ ethnic backgrounds, in comparison to the ethnic compositions of their research groups/labs, influence their persistence in STEM-related disciplines. Undergraduate/graduate students who belong to a research group/lab in Science will be asked to complete online surveys that inquire about their ethnic backgrounds, their perceptions of cohesion (i.e., group unity), and their persistence attitudes. Subsequently, interested participants will take part in a one-time interview to gain more in-depth information about how students perceive ethnic diversity, and its effects, in research group/lab contexts. The knowledge gathered from this mix-methods project will be used to design webinars/workshops for graduate and teaching assistants that are intended to help them provide more inclusive educational opportunities for undergraduate students. Furthermore, diversity/inclusion and group dynamics consultation sessions will be conducted with research groups/labs to increase members’ perceptions of cohesion, which is anticipated to increase the persistence of the BIPOC community in Science.
Understanding persistence and retention in underrepresented STEM students
Dana Ménard, Department of Psychology; Michael Godfrey, Faculty of Science & Jennifer Johrendt, Department of Mechanical, Automotive & Materials Engineering
In Canada, women and students minoritized on the basis of ethnicity or sexual/gender identity are less likely to complete Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) degrees, leading to underrepresentation of these groups among post-secondary graduates and in the workforce. The primary goal of this mixed-methods, multidisciplinary study is to build an understanding of program departure decisions of Canadian STEM students. STEM students will be asked to complete a short survey consisting of demographic questions and a measure of student persistence; results will be analyzed to determine whether lower persistence scores are predicted by gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other demographic factors (e.g., first generation status). Students with low persistence scores will be interviewed to better understand the factors that contribute to students’ persistence beliefs. Interview questions will focus on initial study goals, students’ understandings of how and why they got off-track, and the strategies they are implementing to get back on-track.
The results of this investigation will be used to inform planning and design of a 2-year longitudinal study of STEM students at UWindsor. Findings from this study will also be used to improve existing student support programs in the Faculty of Science and to develop group-specific resources to improve program retention. The goal of these program innovations will be to increase inclusion and student engagement, especially among minoritized students, and to improve interactions among students, professors, and administrators in the Faculty of Science to create a supportive learning environment that will enhance retention and student experience.