Project Title: Engaging Undergraduate Students in Geo-Equity Challenges
Project Category: Departmental

Principal Investigators:
Dr. Catherine A. Macris, Department of Earth Sciences, Assistant Professor, camacris@iupui.edu
Dr. Kathy Licht, Department of Earth Sciences, Professor, klicht@iupui.edu
Dr. Gabriel Filippelli, Department of Earth Sciences, Chancellor's Professor of Earth Sciences, Director, Center for Urban Health, gfilippe@iupui.edu

Recent studies show that participation of people from underrepresented groups, including Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other People of Color in geosciences is the lowest among the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines (e.g., Huntoon et al., 2015; Stokes et al., 2015; Dutt, 2019; Dutt, 2020; Hofstra et al. 2020; Marín-Spiotta et al., 2020). This lack of diversity, inclusivity, and equity in geosciences must be addressed if the field is to expand and thrive by attracting talented and empathetic scientists that better reflect the country's demographics. This project will engage undergraduate Earth Science students at IUPUI in discussions about issues related to equity in geosciences through the creation of three Geo-Equity Challenge Modules. The modules will consist of case studies about geoscience-related topics that negatively impact underrepresented and marginalized communities on local, national, and global scales, with guided discussions framed in the context of ethical decision making. The case studies will be created by student creators, a cohort of upper-level interdisciplinary undergraduate students (under the supervision of the PIs) and will be incorporated into the Earth Sciences curriculum as stand-alone modules that can be utilized by a range of introductory and mid-level courses. Department faculty will try out one or more modules in their courses and provide formative assessments to the Challenge development teams. Both cohorts of students (creators and class participants) will be surveyed before and after their experiences to assess the efficacy of the model and the modules. The results of those assessments will be used to revise the model and submit a proposal for external funding to expand the project. The novelty of this work is that it exists at the intersection of the 4 E’s: Earth sciences, ethics, equity, and education.

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Project Title: Restructuring the Physics Introductory Labs
Project Category: Departmental

Principal Investigator:
Gautam Vemuri, Professor, Physics, gvemuri@iupui.edu

Andrew Gavrin, Chairman & Assoc. Prof., Physics, agavrin@iupui.edu
Brian Woodahl, Senior Lecturer, Physics, bwoodahl@iupui.edu
Aparajita Sengupta, Lecturer, Physics, asengup@iupui.edu

The Physics Department will restructure its introductory labs in Physics 15200, 25100, 21800, 21900, P201 and P202, which serve about 1,800 students annually, to promote critical thinking, quantitative analysis, experimental design and scientific communication. The current curriculum is too focused on following “cookbook” procedures in all aspects of the lab. Students are not asked to think through what data must be acquired, how it should be analyzed, or what a reader would need to understand the results. Also, since the students works in groups of three to four (due to lack of adequate lab stations and instructors), some students watch passively as their group mates engage with the apparatus. In short, the current classes are inadequate, and the time is ripe for change. The proposed project will restructure the labs so that some experiments will be done over two, three or four weeks, with students working in pairs. Students will not be given detailed recipes; rather, they will engage in an iterative cycle with their instructors, during which they will design and refine their experiments, carry out the experiment and analysis based on their growing understanding, and report their results in draft and final reports. Some experiments will be done off-campus, with experiments designed to use capabilities of smart phones. Other on-campus labs will use existing apparatus or more sophisticated mobile sensors (IO Lab devices). The impact on students as well as the assessment of the project will be done through existing, nationally normed, peer-reviewed assessment instruments, as well as surveys that will be developed as part of the project. Once the restructuring is completed, it is expected that students who take these labs will develop the confidence to undertake laboratory work, design optimal experiments for measuring desired quantities, and communicate their work in a scientifically accepted manner. Based on this work, we plan to apply for additional funding through NSF’s IUSE program. The focus of that grant cannot be considered final but is likely to incorporate expanding the use of IOLabs.

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Project Title: Digital Storytelling and STEAM Education: Expanding Critical Thinking and Research Skills in Music Technology

Principal Investigator:
Daniel Walzer, Assistant Professor of Music and Arts Technology

Timothy Hsu, Assistant Professor of Music and Arts Technology

This research explores the use of digital storytelling as a supplemental learning resource in undergraduate music technology courses. Digital storytelling involves using audio, video, images, and text to create personalized narratives on a related topic. Broad in its scope, music technology blends the performing arts with digital software, interactive media, and applied science. Using technology for performance, recording, and creation requires a versatile set of learning outcomes. The science of music draws on audio engineering, electronics, acoustics, and aesthetics. Since music technology is inherently interdisciplinary, we explore how using low-cost digital tools can supplement traditional assessment models, including research papers and exams. We investigate the curricular advantages of deploying DST-focused research projects in undergraduate music technology courses to support critical thinking, multimedia literacy, student agency, and interdisciplinary creativity in STEAM.

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Project Title: Improving student achievement in General Chemistry

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Partha Basu, Professor and Chair, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Marie Nguyen, Senior Lecturer and Instructor of General Chemistry, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Dr. Lin Zhu, Senior Lecturer and Instructor of General Chemistry, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Dr. Peggy Stockdale, Professor, Department of Psychology

The achievement gap between the well-represented and underrepresented students continues to be one of the most urgent and intractable problems in higher education. Rising income inequality and lack of economic mobility inflict a social strain and is exacerbated by underrepresentation in professions with higher lifetime earning potentials such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In these disciplines, the underrepresented minority (URM) students' average performance is lower than those who come from a well-represented group with the same academic preparation causing a higher level of attrition. One of the reasons students drop out of STEM majors is their first-year experience, particularly poor performance in first-year courses. general chemistry is a first-year foundational course that is taken by virtually all STEM students. At IUPUI, Peer Led Team Learning (PLTL) has been in place since 1998 for general chemistry I (C105) and since 2016 for general chemistry II (C106), and this pedagogical approach has made a significant impact in student learning as evidenced by a precipitous drop in the DFW grades. We have analyzed the DFW grades in general chemistry obtained by IUPUI students since 2015. The data revealed a disproportionate number of underrepresented students are left behind despite the PLTL program's success. This revelation prompted us to propose an additional intervention discussed in this proposal. In the first step, we will identify students who are ‘at risk’ of receiving a DFW grade in general chemistry. Indeed, in collaboration with the Institutional Research & Decision Support (IRDS) staff, we have developed a model based on incoming students’ scholastic indicators such as GPA, math SAT score (where applicable), and chemistry placement score. Once identified, selected students will be invited to attend voluntary sessions (intervention) that are focused on improving self-efficacy and growth mindset. These sessions that we call ‘Roar In Chemistry’ (RIC) are designed similar to PLTL but focus more on self-efficacy. The pilot project is designed to make a difference in long term student achievement in general chemistry. Upon successful completion of the project, we will seek external funding for a larger-scale intervention.

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STEM Education Innovation and Research Institute
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
755 W. Michigan Street
University Library, UL 1123
Indianapolis, IN 46202-2800
Email: seiri@iupui.edu