Monday, August 11, 2014

Course Redesign Cohort 3 Teams Selected

STEM Gateway and members from the Course Redesign Advisory Council have selected three teams to redesign their course to improve student success at UNM.  The new cohort will be hard at work between May 2014 and August 2015.

Math 116- Pre-calculus and Trigonometry
The Math 116 course is a unique redesign that combines two three credit math courses (Math 123- Trigonometry and Math 150- Pre-Calculus) into a single 4 credit course thus speeding students time to comlete their degree.

Biology 204- Plant Form and Function Lecture and Biology 202L- Introductory Genetics 
Redesigning two biology courses has provided a special opportunity for team members to work across teams to not only improve the course that they are redesigning but to also look at the alignment of the curriculum throughout the program.  The redesign may entail moving the course into UNM’s active and collaborative teaching and learning spaces, the Learning Studios.

Final redesign proposals will be posted at the STEM Gateway website in mid-August. Congratulations and best wishes to the 2014-2015 Course Redesign Cohort!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sixth-Grader Surprises Science Community

 Three cheers for young women in STEM!

Lauren Arrington, a Florida sixth-grader, grabbed the attention of scientists when she submitted her science fair project results.

Lauren's results indicated that lionfish, normally thought to be mainly saltwater fish and an invasive species to boot,  "can survive in nearly fresh water." 

Experiments have been done on the lionfish's habitat before, but Lauren's project took the numbers of salinity (or lack thereof) even further.

Lauren's fish lived in water with salt levels of 6 parts per thousand.  
Her research project is also being cited in a science journal.  Congratulations, Lauren!

Read the full story at NPR's site here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

McNair & ROP Impromptu Speech Competition

On June 27th, the thirty-three students from the McNair Scholars and Research Opportunity Programs’ summer cohort competed in a Students for STEM Success (S3) sponsored Impromptu Speech Competition!

The friendly competition was a follow-up to an Oral Presentation Skills workshop the previous week.  These workshops were designed to give the students tips, tricks, and practice on how to communicate effectively in a variety of ways.  

The Competition!

The group of 33 was first divided into 4 teams.  Students competed in two rounds of competition within the small groups and each group voted on who to send to the championship round.  For each round, students selected a random topic out of a selection of approximately 40 topics. For each round, the competitors had 2 minutes to prep a 1 minute speech on that topic.

Topics included:

If everything in the world had to change to the same color, what color would you choose and why?

Explain how a smart person might not be wise.

Why should you get money for your research?

You are an ant. Convince an anteater to not eat you.

It was a close competition!  The four finalists did a fantastic job of entertaining us with their impromptu one minute speeches.  There could only be one champion and the cohort voted Dominique Santistevan the winner for her speech on The best way to teach an old dog a new trick.

Congratulations again to Dominique the first S3 Impromptu Speech Champion!

If you would like to see the skills these students learned in action please attend the 2014 McNair Scholars and Research Opportunity Programs’ Summer Research Symposium on July 10 & 11, 2014 at Centennial Engineering Center, Room 1041 (Auditorium).  This event features the mid-summer research presentations of the undergraduate scholars in the program.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Are PLFs in your Fall classes?

Check out our list of PLF-supported courses for the fall!  

Register for these sections to get active learning techniques and peer support in your classroom:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New Study on Active Learning

The University of Washington recently published a new study about active learning in classrooms in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which shows that students performance improves in STEM courses through an active teaching style. According to the study, the students improve their grades by an impressive 6%--the difference between a B+ and an A. Compared to the standard lectures that many teachers use, the study suggests that employing a change every 10 minutes with active teaching and learning techniques will allow more students to succeed. By using methods like groups, open questions, calling random students, and using clickers, the teacher engages the students and encourages them to actively participate and learn while they are in class.

To support these findings, the group responsible for the study at the University of Washington, Freeman and his colleagues, analyzed 225 studies on undergraduates in STEM classes and the teaching methods used in those classes. After culling the data from these studies, the group learned that making students participate rather than just listen improved their exam scores and reduced their failure rates.

This study is great news for the STEM Gateway since we have been promoting the benefits of active learning in classrooms and helping with course reforms to allow active learning!

For a link to the article: Click here!

For a link to the study: Click here!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hiring New PLFs!

We have exciting news for any one interested in working at the STEM Gateway, we are hiring PLFs for all subjects for the fall 2014 semester. So, anyone who wants to help students learn in subjects like Math, Chemistry, Physics should apply here!

Working as a PLF presents an exciting, fun, and challenging environment where you can tutor students, help them understand new concepts, and improve the STEM community on campus. While the work may seem foreboding at first, the students always appreciate your help, and your fellow PLFs and teachers will help you along the way!

To become a PLF you must have at least a 2.5 GPA, completed a similar course to the class you want to PLF or its equivalent (for example, Math 121 if you want to PLF for Math classes), and a letter of recommendation from a faculty member in a STEM focused field. For a complete list of the requirements, please refer to the job posting in the link above or below!

If you are still not convinced, then consider working as a PLF an opportunity to improve your own skills in a field you enjoy. While many of the PLFs study in STEM fields, we do not require you to be a STEM person yourself. Thus, as long as you want to help your fellow students and have an interest in STEM courses, studies, or education, you are an excellent PLF candidate!

Here is the link again for the job posting: Be a PLF!

Monday, March 24, 2014

STEM Study in Journal of College Student Development

By Patrick Coulombe

A recent study published in the Journal of College Student Development looked at contextual variables that were predictors of the fourth-year GPA of Hispanic students enrolled in a STEM major. The authors found that, after controlling for demographic variables such as gender and parents’ education, Hispanic students who frequently received support and encouragement from faculty members reported a higher GPA

Not surprisingly, students who spent more time on studying and homework also reported a higher GPA.
Interestingly, Hispanic students who were enrolled in culturally-relevant activities (such as an ethnic studies course or an ethnic student organization) reported lower GPAs. The authors propose that this may be due to students having less time to invest towards their studies. However, another explanation might be that Hispanic students who take part in culturally-relevant activities do so specifically because they do not feel comfortable or welcome into their academic program, and seek social support among peers through these extra-curricular activities.

Overall, almost a quarter of the differences in GPA among Hispanic STEM students that could be captured by the study were due to differences not in demographic variables (like gender and parents’ education) but in contextual variables. Therefore, it appears that the academic success of Hispanic students evolving in a STEM major in college is affected by the environment in which they study.

In a future study, instead of focusing on GPA, it would be interesting to use these same variables to predict whether Hispanic students in STEM majors go on to actually graduate with their STEM degree, or instead drop out or switch to a non-STEM major before completing their degree.


Cole, D., & Espinoza, A. (2010). Examining the academic success of Latino students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) majors. Journal of College Student Development, 49, 285-300.