Title: STEM Energy Education in California San Juaquin valley (Work in Progress)
By: Abbas Ghassemi, University of California, Merced; Marina Shapiro, California State University, Bakersfield; Stephen Waller, Bakersfield College
Abstract: There are abundant evidence demonstrating greater student success in terms of time to retention, graduation, job placement, and advancing to higher positions once hired when they are involved with adaptive learning throughout their academic experience. This is particularly true of first generation and underserved minority students, due in part to these students not having access to tools on their own outside their academic programs. This project seeks to reduce large educational equity gaps in STEM fields that are experienced by Hispanic and other underrepresented minority (URM) students who live in California's Central Valley. The collaboration between California State University at Bakersfield (CSU Bakersfield), the University of California at Merced (UC Merced), and Bakersfield College, three academic institutions, located in the San Joaquin valley to serve these students in this demonstration project. These equity gaps exist despite strong demand for STEM graduates in the local economy, which is largely based upon the energy and agricultural industries. The hypothesis underlying the project is that URM students have a limited perspective of their possible contributions to improving technology due to social issues, such as knowing few in their community who are scientists or engineers. Furthermore, when URM students enter STEM fields, they fail to see the connection between their studies and real-world problems because gateway courses in current curricula fail to make that connection explicit.
This project will introduce the concepts behind practical technical problems at the intersection of energy, water, and agriculture, problems relevant to the Central Valley, into gateway STEM courses via a novel combination of two pedagogies, flipped classroom and Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL), which we call Flipped Classroom- Enhanced-Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (FC-E-POGIL). Implementation of these pedagogies will vary from academic institution to academic institution and from course to course as described in the body of the proposal. However, in all cases, the goal will be to increase student engagement so that URM STEM students will persist in their studies and thereby close the current large equity gaps. Suitable metrics will be collected during the project, and a final report that includes curricula will be produced and made available online for future scaling.
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