Monday, April 22, 2013

A big THANK YOU to everyone who participated in this morning's STEM Gateway Research focus group discussions!  Your insights and experiences will be helpful in our understanding the context of the data we have collected.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The STEM Gateway program is focused on improving student success in STEM degree programs at the University of New Mexico.  Among other initiatives, we collect and analyze data related to the STEM student experience at UNM.

As part of this mission, we recently asked these questions:
  • How do undergraduate students who graduate with STEM degrees differ from those who switch majors out of STEM, and from those who stop attending UNM prior to completing their degrees?
  • How do undergraduate STEM students perform in the core math & science gateway courses that lead into their STEM degrees?

You will find a description of the study “Stop, Shift or Graduate: STEM Undergraduate Degree Completion Patterns at UNM” located on the study website:   

In preparation for our release of this report, we would like your help in analyzing the data. 

You are invited to attend a focus group discussion on Monday, April 22 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Office for the Support of Effective Teaching (OSET).  Boxed lunches will be provided.  If you elect to participate in this discussion, we will email you the preliminary reports from this study soon after you sign-up. 

During the focus group discussion, we will answer three questions:
  • What are the IMPLICATIONS of this data?
  • What are the LIMITATIONS of this data?
  • What ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS does this data indicate that we should ask and answer?

Following the focus group discussion, your answers to these three questions will be summarized and included in our final published report.

To sign-up for these focus group discussions, simply go to the following website and reserve your space:  Or if you prefer, you may sign-up by email by contacting Cathy Britain at or Tim Schroeder at

If you have any questions regarding this study, please feel free to contact me at 277-1761 or at  I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for your continued commitment to STEM students at UNM!

To visit the “Stop, Shift or Graduate” webpage, go to:

Friday, April 5, 2013

Science, Math, and … Poetry?

The Peer Learning Facilitators complete weekly Professional Development trainings to hone their skills, build their teams, and maybe even have a little fun!   

A recent training asked the science and math students to write haikus about their experience at work.  A haiku (simply a three line poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5) may seem easy to create, but having the students try to capture the essence of their jobs is the real challenge.  

Here are some of the results:

Dreaded Calculus!
The students hate you, Newton.
This is really hard.

Math is pretty hard.
I believe you can do it,
just work pretty hard!

My week was easy.
The students were excited
to begin Spring Break!

There was even a little free verse in the mix:

Time to go to class
so I can help students pass.
It’s all good 'cause life goes by fast.
PLF life, it’s a blast:
Integrals, derivatives—man I love math!
Teaching students, that’s the way
I earn my cash.

The exercise stems (no pun intended) from a concept called "Writing-to-Learn," essentially the idea that short, low-stakes, and informal writing assignments are just as effective at helping students process ideas, concepts, and emotions.  The ability to self-reflect, even in silly ways, and to process those thoughts in written form are critical skills especially for students in the STEM fields, where writing can sometimes feel uncomfortable.

You can learn more about "Writing-to-Learn" concepts at UNM by visiting the English Department's Writing Across Communities page here.