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CommUNITY Seminar | Beyond Large Enrollments: Cultivating Latine Student Success in Introductory Chemistry through Servingness-Centered Evidence-Based Pedagogies

Paulette Vincent Ruz (New Mexico State University)
Friday, June 7, 2024
4:00 PM
1706 Chemistry Dow Lab Map
In response to the critical imperative of addressing underrepresentation and educational debt among Latine students in STEM fields at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), this project endeavors to develop servingness-centered and evidence-based pedagogies in the chemistry classroom. While existing research on HSIs focuses on defining servingness at the organizational level , there has been very little discussion on how that is operationalized in STEM classroom in terms of pedagogy and practice. In contrast, active learning has been studied extensively in STEM Education. Numerous researchers have advocated for the application of active learning practices to effectively achieve this objective. Active learning practices encompass a comprehensive spectrum of instructional strategies that prioritize dynamic student involvement, encourage collaborative participation, and foster experiential learning. However, research has shown conflicting evidence regarding: 1) Students’ perceptions of learning, 2) Barriers to implementation of these strategies, and 3) Whether these strategies are truly effective in bridging the enduring disparities in educational outcomes and opportunities for marginalized groups, which stem from historical disadvantages like unequal access to quality education, resources, and opportunities, remains a central question. This suggests that relying solely on active learning may not be sufficient to adequately tackle educational disparities faced by Latinx students in STEM classrooms or to nurture their ability to navigate between their Latine identity and STEM identity. We posit that true servingness-centered pedagogies and curricula should place emphasis not only on academic achievement but also on the integration of students' Latine cultural heritage into the framework of science education within the classroom. This specific research project aims to establish a clear understanding of the concept of "servingness" within the context of the introductory chemistry classroom. We embedded a Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) curriculum, into an introductory chemistry course and measure its effectiveness on servingness indicators. POGIL is a widely recognized and researched active learning curriculum that integrates active learning principles. The implementation involved a structured Design Based Research Cycle (DBR). Here we strategically introduced servingness-enhancing structures based on the identification of servingness indicators reflecting stagnant or unchanging trends after each implementation year. The central hypothesis of the project is that while a purely evidence-based approach may effectively improve performance and retention to the next chemistry course, it likely is not sufficient to support border crossing or the development of science identity. Student outcomes significantly improved, reducing the historical DFW rate from 35% to 11%. Qualitative findings revealed two major themes. First, a Sense of Belonging emerged, driven by diverse scientist representation in course content, fostering inclusivity and recognizing diversity's importance in STEM. Second, Self-Efficacy and Effective Learning Tools were highlighted, with students reporting increased confidence and understanding of chemistry concepts. In summary, while POGIL effectively enhances cognitive outcomes and self-efficacy, it does not substantially boost students' sense of belonging. This study underscores the importance of tailoring servingness-centered structures to complement active learning, urging institutions to address students' specific needs rather than attempting to fix marginalized students themselves.
Building: Chemistry Dow Lab
Event Type: Workshop / Seminar
Tags: Biosciences, Chemistry
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Chemistry