Toward Better National Data on Post-Secondary Education

Announcement from Inside Higher Ed

The Institute for Higher Education Policy is today releasing a series of papers that, taken together, are designed to point the way toward a more vibrant set of national data on student outcomes.

The papers, which come from a wide range of policy experts, cover an array of topics, such as the possibility of creating a federal student-level data system, how to link existing federal data systems, strategies for protecting privacy of students and the possible role of the National Student Clearinghouse.

UCLA Climate Scientists Aradhna Tripati and Alex Hall featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Watch the video here (warning: includes bleeped profanity!)

Tripati and Hall were among 6 climate scientists featured in Kimmel’s late night show. Jimmy takes a moment to talk about climate change and the confusing political argument that has emerged around it. NASA says that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that the warming we are experiencing is very likely due to human activity.

New Report: Building a Better Future STEM Faculty: How Teaching Development Programs Can Improve Undergraduate Education

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View a summary article with key take-aways

The Longitudinal Study of Future STEM Scholars was conducted by a team led by Dr. Mark Connolly at the University of Wisconsin. It examined the effects of teaching-focused professional development programs used by STEM doctoral students with academic aspirations (future STEM faculty). Over 2,000 doctoral students from three research universities (ASU, UW, UW), were surveyed 3 times over 5 years.

A Nobel Laureate’s Education Plea: Revolutionize Teaching

by NPRed

This short audio piece discusses the efforts of Professor of Physics at Stanford University, Carl Weiman to raise awareness of the importance of using a scientific and data-driven approach to understanding the impact of different styles of teaching, specifically traditional lecture compared to more active learning classroom pedagogies. The story also touches on some of the supports needed at the institutional level to support changes in the classroom.

Awareness Reduces Racial Bias by Devin G. Pope, Joseph Price, and Justin Wolfers

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Abstract: Can raising awareness of racial bias subsequently reduce that bias? We address this question by exploiting the widespread media attention highlighting racial bias among professional basketball referees that occurred in May 2007 following the release of an academic study. Using new data, we confirm that racial bias persisted in the years after the study’s original sample, but prior to the media coverage. Subsequent to the media coverage though, the bias completely disappeared. We examine potential mechanisms that may have produced this result and find that the most likely explanation is that upon becoming aware of their biases, individual referees changed their decision-making process. These results suggest that raising awareness of even subtle forms of bias can bring about meaningful change.

Communicating Chemistry: Framework for Sharing Science: A Practical Evidence-Based Guide

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A growing body of evidence indicates that, increasingly, the public is engaging with science in a wide range of informal environments, which can be any setting outside of school such as community-based programs, festivals, libraries, or home. Yet undergraduate and graduate schools often don’t prepare scientists for public communication.

This practical guide is intended for any chemist – that is, any professional who works in chemistry-related activities, whether research, manufacturing or policy – who wishes to improve their informal communications with the public. At the heart of this guide is a framework, which was presented in the report Effective Chemistry Communication in Informal Environments and is based on the best available empirical evidence from the research literature on informal learning, science communication, and chemistry education. The framework consists of five elements which can be applied broadly to any science communication event in an informal setting.

Climate Confusion Among US Teachers, Plutzer et al.

Published in Science

This study collected data from 1500 public middle- and high-school science teachers from all 50 U.S. states, representative of the population of science teachers in terms of school size, student socioeconomic status, and community economic and political characteristics. The resulting data showed gaps in teacher knowledge and resources. The paper additionally discusses social and political pressures impacting teaching.

To address these issues the paper concludes by highlighting the need for middle-school and high-school teachers to have access to training on current research in climate change. “College and university instructors will need help reaching teachers and teachers-in-training who bring diverse political and value commitments to the classroom—particularly in avoiding “boomerang effects,” in which attempts to promote a particular view can instead harden opposition. This may entail acknowledging and addressing conflicts that teachers (and their students) may feel between their values and the science. Such instruction will promote understanding of the science as well as the pedagogy that future teachers will need to promote climate science literacy.

HBCUs: An Unheralded Role in STEM Majors and a Model for Other Colleges

Published in The Chronicle of Higher Education

In this article by Ken Leichter, he outlines the benefits and successes that historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have achieved for supporting African American students in completing majors that lead to higher paying jobs – particularly in the STEM disciplines. He contrasts this success with research evidencing the challenges and poor retention outcomes seen at other colleges and universities. He offers the HBCU model as one that should be preserved because of its success, but also as a leader from which other institutions can learn from in order to better address their own disparities in outcomes and service to African American students.