Initial impact of an experiment-centric teaching approach in several STEM disciplines
According to National Science Foundation data, the percentage of college-aged Blacks in the United States population is five to seven times the African American B.S. degree recipients in the geosciences, physics and engineering disciplines. Since Historical Black Colleges and Universities produce a disproportionate number of African American STEM graduates, there is an urgent need for them to increase their focus on broadening STEM participation among these students. There are untapped opportunities to develop intervention strategies and programs to increase recruitment, retention, and success of minorities in STEM and the workforce. Experiment-Centric Pedagogy (ECP) has been successful in promoting motivation and enhancing the academic achievement of African American electrical engineering students. ECP uses a portable electronic instrumentation system, paired with appropriate software and sensors, to measure a wide range of properties, such as vibration and oxygen levels. This work in progress describes the initial adaptation of an evidence-based, experiment-focused teaching approach in biology, civil engineering, industrial engineering, and physics. Instructors use ECP for in-class demonstrations, for cooperative group experiments, and for homework assignments. The paper will highlight the criteria used for selection of initial experiments to adapt, the modifications made, and resulting changes in the course delivery. Preliminary results using measures of key constructs associated with student success, such as motivation, engineering identity, and self-efficacy are provided.This project is conducted at a historically black college/university and most participants are from groups historically underrepresented in STEM.