Transforming Undergraduate Introductory STEM Courses at UI

Project Implementation Team: Cornelia Lang, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Shaun Vecera, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Jamie Tanas, Office of Teaching, Learning and Technology; Stephanie Preschel, Academic Support & Retention 

Funding Approved: Fiscal Year 21
Project Status: Complete 
Funded amount: $300,000  

The Hawkeye Introductory Courses (HIC) project made progress toward improving student outcomes in six large-enrollment courses taken primarily by first-year students.  

This highly collaborative, cross-departmental program involved instructional groups from five departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science, and Health and Human Physiology. 

Activities coordinated by the HIC project included: 

  • A summer institute to promote professional development around course design and student support in large introductory courses. 
  • Data collection of student feedback, student outcomes, and student engagement with course components.  
  • Monthly professional development meetings to promote cross-departmental conversations and provide support for course improvement, inclusive teaching, and resource sharing among teams.  
  • Regular meetings with staff from Academic Support and Retention (ASR) and the Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology (OTLT). 

Ultimately, the project had a significant impact on faculty success and development and increased the emphasis on introductory courses at a departmental level.  

Measures of success among faculty participants: 

  • 100% indicate the project contributed to their professional development 
  • 92% indicate that the project increased their knowledge of patterns of students’ success in these courses  
  • 100% indicate increased knowledge of support available to aid in student success 
  • 78% indicate increased knowledge of best teaching practices 
  • 71% say the project improved coordination at the departmental level 
  • 100% of courses in the project collected feedback from students  
  • 92% increased use of data to inform their instruction 
  • 71% report an increased tracking of student success 
  • 62% had increased awareness of strategies the department can use to help retain students in the course 
  • Three departments have implemented targeted metacognitive supports in their courses to support student growth mindset and metacognition  

Next Steps: 

The success of the HIC led to the expansion and centralization of the project through the Year 2 funded P3 project, Excellence in Teaching and Learning: Developing a Set of Effective Strategies for Course and Curriculum Innovation. In addition to lasting cultural changes in the departments that were part of the HIC project, structural changes within ASR and OTLT will provide continued support to this and similar initiatives.