FIU receives $1.5 million for undergraduate STEM education

Posted to FIU News by Ayleen Barbel Fattal

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FIU has received a a $1.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to develop strategies that will improve successful completion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees.

The grant is part of HHMI’s initiative to improve how science is taught by enabling schools to focus on significant and sustained improvement in retaining STEM students. Based on the recommendations presented in the Engage to Excel report issued by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) in 2012, HHMI issued a challenge to research universities to develop programs that would improve the learning experience for STEM students of all backgrounds.

“Our nation’s research universities are absolutely critical to sustaining our scientific excellence,” said HHMI President Robert Tjian. “Simply put, we are challenging these universities to focus their attention on the improving science education so that a greater number of talented students remain in science.”

Under the grant, FIU’s program will focus on major reform of introductory STEM courses – also known as gateway or gatekeeper courses. According to research, about 60 percent of all undergraduates who intend to major in STEM disciplines do not complete their degrees. For students from unrepresented minorities, the number jumps to 80 percent. In many cases, attrition occurs in the first two years of college when students are taking introductory courses in chemistry, math and biology.

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