Study will identify teaching methods in STEM classes

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A group of faculty members received a $137,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study classroom instructional practices used by Grand Valley professors who teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The primary goal is to identify and understand how Grand Valley faculty teach the STEM disciplines, said Scott Grissom, professor of computing and assistant director of the School of Computing and Information Systems. “By tracking where we are now, we can identify and adopt other effective teaching strategies,” he said.

Grissom said while lectures remain the most dominant classroom practice, small group work and other active learning strategies are on the rise. “We don’t want to suggest one strategy is better than another. We just want to capture data and the facts for now,” he said.

Part of the project will include interviews and surveying the more than 300 STEM faculty. Next month a survey will be sent to faculty to identify current instructional practices, motivations to try new methods and reasons they are reluctant to try new strategies.

The one-year study is led by Grissom; Shannon Biros, assistant professor of chemistry; Robert Talbert, associate professor of mathematics; and Shaily Menon, professor of biology and associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.