AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst Institute for Teaching Excellence & Faculty Development (TEFD) will share in a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study and cultivate a network of STEM education centers at universities throughout the United States.
The NSF grant was awarded to the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), in partnership with UMass Amherst and the University of Colorado Boulder. TEFD’s direct portion of the grant will total approximately $640,000.
The four-year grant is for a project titled “Creating and Studying a National Network of Centers of STEM Education: Developing Foundational Infrastructure for Educational Transformation.” It will fund a wide range of outreach, analysis and advisory functions. APLU will help oversee coordination of the national network of STEM education centers.
Kacy Redd is director of science and mathematics education policy at APLU and serves as the project principal investigator. “STEM education centers are remarkable agents of discovery and creativity, and the national network promises to help magnify their impact on students, campuses and communities,” she said.
Gabriela Weaver, UMass Amherst professor of chemistry, vice provost for faculty development and director of TEFD, is a co-principal investigator for the grant.
There is a widely recognized need to boost the quantity of STEM graduates in the United States as the country works to maintain and expand its edge in STEM fields, but less attention and resources have been devoted to improving the quality of STEM education. The network will work to improve quality and effectiveness while spotlighting what is already working at STEM education centers.
Because self-identified STEM education centers vary greatly in size, history, funding and institutional placement, the mechanisms by which they are most likely to effect change in the culture of STEM education are not yet clear.