The University of Texas at San Antonio has received a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to increase the number of students earning degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
The university plans to use the funding to revise its curriculum and help more students pass lower-level courses.
“A lot of times (STEM students) get discouraged when they don’t do well in one of the earlier courses, or a course that’s really key to their knowledge in future courses, and so they’ll change their majors,” said Heather Shipley, vice provost of academic affairs at UTSA. “If we can think about how we teach the course, then we can increase the number that stay in STEM and finish in STEM.”
Shipley said the science and engineering departments will work with the education department to incorporate multiple learning methods into their teaching. The new curriculum will also emphasize communication skills, with the idea that students understand something if they can explain it to someone else.
According to university records, 63 percent of students enrolled in introductory physics and 51 percent enrolled in introductory engineering passed those courses in the fall of 2016.
Shipley said having lower pass rates isn’t unique to STEM majors at UTSA, but it tends to happen earlier in the major for students in STEM majors.
The National Science Foundation also gave Texas A&M-San Antonio an almost $250,000 grant to recruit and retain students in computing and cybersecurity.
Camille Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille