Illinois to Participate in AAU Initiative to Improve Undergraduate STEM Education

Undergraduate student working in Illinois lab.
Illinois has found research experiences for undergraduates, like the one in which the student above is participating, to be effective in the retention of students in STEM majors.

August 16, 2012

As the nation's need for more STEM graduates has increased, so has the need to improve our undergraduate STEM education. The Association of American Universities (AAU), of which Illinois is a member, has established a 5-year initiative on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) undergraduate teaching. Particularly focused on the first two years of college, the initiative seeks to help higher education institutions assess the quality of STEM teaching, share best practices, and encourage the use of the most effective STEM teaching methods.

The need to improve America's undergraduate education has been established by several high-level reports, which have identified deficiencies and potential solutions, such as the use of effective instructional techniques demonstrated to engage students, thus helping them learn. Because Illinois is at the forefront of institutions working to address this need, the AAU has approached the university to be one of the lead agencies involved in this initiative. Chancellor Phyllis Wise has appointed I-STEM Director Lizanne DeStefano to serve as the Illinois liaison.

A technical advisory committee of experts in undergraduate STEM teaching and learning will help guide the initiative and assist AAU to meet the following goals:

  1. Develop an analytical framework to assess and improve the quality of STEM teaching and learning, particularly in the first two years of college.
  2. Create a demonstration program to implement the framework at a subset of AAU universities and develop tools to assess: a) the quality of STEM teaching and learning; b) the extent to which effective teaching methods are used; and c) the effects of improved teaching on retention of STEM majors and degree completion.
  3. Explore mechanisms to train, recognize, and reward faculty who improve the quality of their STEM teaching.
  4. Work with federal agencies to recognize, reward, and promote efforts to improve undergraduate learning.
  5. Determine the best methods to evaluate and share information about effective undergraduate STEM education.
Illinois student doing hands-on project in Illinois undergraduate course.
Illinois student does hands-on project in an engineering undergraduate course.

Integrating teaching and research in the classrooms of U.S. research universities can benefit student learning. However, to improve STEM education to the degree that our nation's demands for a highly trained, STEM-literate workforce are met, a variety of organizations, such as higher education associations, individual universities, disciplinary societies, federal agencies, and the business community must work together. Thus, AAU will establish a task force to guide initiative efforts and play a key role in the framework demonstration program. In addition to the member universities, the AAU will work with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; the Business-Higher Education Forum; the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; and various disciplinary societies, including the American Physical Society. It is hoped that by fostering the collaboration of these institutions toward a shared goal, the initiative can improve undergraduate STEM education and retention at all levels.

AAU web article: AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative

Author, photographer: Elizabeth Innes, Communications Specialist, I-STEM Education Initiative
More: I-STEM Initiatives, Undergrad Education Reform, 2012

Nobel Project’s End-of-Year Zoom Bash Recaps Learning

February 1, 2022
The STEM Illinois Nobel Project held a special, end-of-the-year Zoom event celebrating its participating students’ achievements.
Full Story

It’s not magic, it’s physics

January 26, 2022
In Franklin STEAM Academy, Musical Magnetism program makes STEM fun, approachable.
Full Story

Program prepares STEM educators to teach all students

November 30, 2021
This summer, a group of educators gathered to learn about engaging STEM activities they can do with their students.
Full Story

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program

November 11, 2021
Undergrads get a taste of research through I-MRSEC’s REU program.
Full Story

Goldstein’s Renaissance Engineering Summer Camp

November 1, 2021
Goldstein’s Renaissance Engineering Summer Camp Incorporates Art, Design, Mechatronics, and Mentoring
Full Story

TechTogether Chicago to Redefine the Hacker Stereotype

July 10, 2021
New workshops that can help inspire students to pursue careers in technology..
Full Story

Aerospace Engineering Launches Virtual Summer Camps to Pique Students’ Interest in Aero.

July 2, 2021
Design an aircraft then watch it soar after launching it with a huge rubber band. Build a Mars lander to safely transport a real egg, then test the contraption by dropping it from a second story window.
Full Story

Undergrads Experience Materials Science Research Courtesy of the I-MRSEC REU

June 16, 2021
Ten undergraduate students are spending the summer of 2021 discovering what research is like.
Full Story

MatSE Afterschool Academy

MatSE Afterschool Academy

June 14, 2021
MatSE Afterschool Academy to Introduce Students to Materials Science and Beyond.
Full Story

Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest

Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest

June 14, 2021
Taylor Tucker Embraces Multidisciplinary Interest While Researching Task Collaboration.
Full Story

Exposes Franklin Middle Schoolers to Science, CS

What Studying Engineering at Illinois is Like?

May 25, 2021
NSBE’s Michaela Horn Exposes Franklin Middle Schoolers to Science, CS, and What Studying Engineering at Illinois is Like.
Full Story

Jenny Saves a Convertible.

Children’s-Book-Writing Duo/

May 19, 2021
Convertibles and Thunderstorms—Children’s-Book-Writing Duo on Their Way Thanks to Illinois Training and Encouragement from Mentors.
Full Story

Improve Learning in Engineering

Improve Learning in Engineering

May 17, 2021
Liebenberg Espouses Mini-Projects to Engage Students Emotionally, Improve Learning in Engineering.
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

BIOE435 Capstone Projects

May 12, 2021
BIOE435 Capstone Projects - BIOE Seniors Use Knowledge/Skills to Problem Solve.
Full Story

Elani and Gonzalo shine a UV light on a rose that has absorbed a solution that has made it fluorescent.

Illinois Scientists Shine a (UV) Light on Fluorescence

May 7, 2021
What is fluorescence? What causes it?
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

HackIllinois 2021 “Rekindled Connections” With The Tech Community

May 5, 2021
Annual student hackathon HackIllinois with the aim of developing projects on current problems facing society.
Full Story

A Shane Mayer-Gawlik image of the Bridger Aurora, part of his Night Skies photography collection exhibited at the Art-Science Festival.

The Art-Science Festival

April 26, 2021
Illinois Art-Science Festival: Illuminating the Universe...from the Quantum World to the Cosmos.
Full Story

Joshua Whitely makes an adjustment to the 3D Bioprinter during the demo.

Illinois Engineering Seniors Prepared to Change the World

April 22, 2021
Ready. Set. Go! Illinois Engineering Seniors Prepared to Change the World.
Full Story

HML 2021 Virtual Health

HML 2021 Virtual Health

April 19, 2021
Make-a-Thon Gives Citizen Scientists a Shot at Making Their Health-Related Innovations a Reality.
Full Story

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

April 7, 2021
I-MRSEC’s Music Video for EOH ’21 Plugs Graphene, 2D Materials
Full Story

Health Make-a-Thon Orientation

HML 2021 Health Orientation

March 30, 2021
HML 2021 Health Make-a-Thon Orientation Prepares Finalists for Competition.
Full Story

Andrea Perry shows Franklin students how to take apart the magnetic drawing board they received in their kit

Musical Magnetism

March 25, 2021
Musical Magnetism: Encouraging Franklin Middle Schoolers to Express Science Via the Arts.
Full Story

Carmen Paquette street performing.

Love of Science

March 9, 2021
Paquette Conveys Her Love of Science, Dance to Franklin STEAM Students Via Musical Magnetism.
Full Stroy

An Engineering Exploration participant exhibits the tower they built as part of the engineering challenge related to Civil Engineering

Engineering Exploration

March 2, 2021
SWE’s Engineering Exploration Outreach Lives Up to Its Name.

ChiS&E’s Family STEM Day

ChiS&E’s Family STEM Day

February 23, 2021
Helps Chicago Youngsters Progress Along the STEM Pipeline Toward Engineering.

Kathny Walsh

Kathy Walsh

February 17, 2021
On Her First Foray into STEAM, Kathy Walsh Acquaints Franklin Students with Microscopy, Haiku.

ChiS&E student

ChiS&E CPS Students

January 19, 2021
Illinois Undergrads Encourage ChiS&E CPS Students Toward Possible Careers in Engineering.

I-MRSEC’s Music Video

CISTEME365 Provides Year-Round PD/Community

January 4, 2021
to Illinois Teachers in Support of Informal STEM Education Efforts to Underserved Students.