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This abstract was retrieved from the NSF's FastLane Awards Database, where abstracts of projects which have received funding from the National Science Foundation can be retrieved from an on-line searchable database.
Title : MPWG: Pedagogical Transformation to Restructure Introductory Physics Courses and Retain Women and Minority Students Type : Award NSF Org : HRD Latest Amendment Date : June 29, 1995 File : a9553630 Award Number: 9553630 Award Instr.: Standard Grant Prgm Manager: Lola E. Rogers HRD DIVISION OF HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT EHR DIRECT FOR EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES Start Date : September 1, 1995 Expires : August 31, 1996 (Estimated) Expected Total Amt. : $99,701 (Estimated) Investigator: Milan C Buncick Dianne D Horgan Lynn Weber Phyllis G Betts Corinna A Ethington Sponsor : University of Memphis Memphis, TN 38152 901/678-2000 NSF Program : 1544 EHR ACT FOR WOM & GIRLS IN SEM Fld Science : 13 Physics 59 Engineering NEC Fld Applictn: 0000099 Other Applications NEC Abstract : Buncick 9553630 The Physics Department and colleagues from the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Research of the College of Education, the Center for Research on Women, and the University Honors Program propose a model program to improve learning and retention of all students, but particularly women and minorities, in introductory physics courses. Currently many instructors are aware of the underrepresentation of women and try to encourage women by increasing the visibility of women in science and providing them with role models. The purpose of this proposal is to move beyond these standard strategies and focus on removing some of the psychological barriers. This effort focuses on calculus-based introductory physics courses. Students who attend these courses major in all areas of science and mathematics, but are primarily engineering and physics majors. Some straightforward pedagogical changes that will address these barriers are to be implemented. The proposed teaching techniques are designed: (1) to increase the comfort level in the classroom by establishing a sense of community; (2) to build confidence in women and people of color; (3) to increase the perceived value and utility of science and mathematics; (4) to reduce the competitive nature of the classroom; (5) to develop self-assessment skills; and (6) to encourage risk taking to enhance the learning process. In addition, faculty are to engage in workshops and discussion sessions to raise their awareness of the barriers that women and minorities face. Faculty also are to be involved in the development and refinement of pedagogical techniques that help to remove those barriers. The advantage of the structural and pedagogical approach, compared to other models of comprehensive, often course-specific curricular reform, lies in: (1) its portability from course to course and from discipline to discipline, and (2) its emphasis on "techniques" rather than content, thus making is likely to b e more easily and readily embraced by a broader range of faculty. A focus on pedagogical techniques and class structure is a unique aspect of this program. The intention is to use this project as a foundation for long-term pedagogical and faculty development. The program seeks: (1) to reduce the overall dropout rate from the introductory physics course through increasing the number of women and people of color who complete it, through raising the grades of those completing it, especially the women and people of color, through increasing satisfaction with the course; (2) to increase the proportion of women and people of color who choose to continue in science, engineering, or mathematics; and (3) to introduce to the science, mathematics and engineering faculty pedagogical techniques designed to make classes more supportive, and to improve learning. These efforts, hopefully, will lead to a cooperative and mutually supportive network of faculty from engineering, science, mathematics and education who share a commitment to increase the diversity of students who take and succeed in science and mathematics courses at the University.