Stepping up undergraduate research at mtsu step mt
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STEPping Up Undergraduate Research at MTSU (STEP MT ). CBAS Teaching & Learning Seminar February 15, 2005 Tom Cheatham, Andri Friedli, William Robertson, & Ginger Rowell. Presentation Overview. STEP MT Project Overview Curriculum Starting Research Explorations Early

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STEPping Up Undergraduate Research at MTSU (STEP MT )

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Stepping up undergraduate research at mtsu step mt

STEPping Up Undergraduate Research at MTSU (STEPMT)

CBAS Teaching & Learning Seminar

February 15, 2005

Tom Cheatham, Andri Friedli, William Robertson, & Ginger Rowell

Presentation overview

Presentation Overview

  • STEPMT Project Overview

  • Curriculum

    • Starting Research Explorations Early

  • Undergraduate Research

    • Building an On-Campus Undergraduate Research Community

  • Partnerships

    • Providing Off-Campus Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

Step mt project overview

STEPMT Project Overview



  • STEPMTTeam

  • How can you get involved?

Nsf step program

NSF STEP Program

  • STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP)

  • 4th competition just completed (Feb 10)

  • Typically fund 12 of 250 proposals

  • Focus on recruiting & retention in STEM

  • Goals of NSF-STEP

Nsf step goals


Program Synopsis:

The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP) seeks to increase the number of students (U.S. citizens or permanent residents) receiving associate or baccalaureate degrees in established or emerging fields within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Type 1 proposals are solicited that provide for full implementation efforts at academic institutions.  Type 2 proposals are solicited that support educational research projects on associate or baccalaureate degree attainment in STEM. 

Nsf program officers

NSF Program Officers

Cognizant Program Officers:

  • Susan H. Hixson, Lead Program Director, Directorate for Education & Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education, 835 N, telephone: (703) 292-4623, fax: (703) 292-9015, email:

  • John R. Haddock, Co-Lead Program Director, Directorate for Education & Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education, 835 N, telephone: (703) 292-8670, email:

  • Terry S. Woodin, Program Director, Directorate for Education & Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education, 907 N, telephone: (703) 292-8697, fax: (703) 292-9048, email:

  • Lee L. Zia, Program Director, Directorate for Education & Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education, 835 N, telephone: (703) 292-5140, fax: (703) 292-9046, email:

Step mt


  • 5 year $1.7 M


  • Mostly retention via

    • Curriculum innovation

    • Creation of research community

    • On campus and off campus research activities

  • Recruitment through experiences for HS students and teachers

Step mt team


  • Tom Cheatham, CBAS, Co-PI

  • Bill Robertson, PHYS, Co-PI

  • Andrienne Friedli, CHEM, Co-PI

  • Ginger Rowell, MATH, Co-PI

  • Brad Rundik, CSCI, Coordinator

How can you get involved

How Can You Get Involved ?

  • Develop or apply inquiry-based learning

  • Mentor undergraduate in academic year research

  • Mentor undergraduate in summer research

  • Mentor undergraduate in summer research in industry

  • Participate in Teaching/Learning Seminar

  • Encourage students to attend Wed 12:30 …

  • Encourage undergraduates to participate in REUs and research in industry

Curriculum innovations

Curriculum Innovations

  • Inquiry-based Learning in Key Lower Division Classes

  • Student Research Classes

  • Laboratory Internship Class

Inquiry based learning

Inquiry-based Learning


Discovery Learning


Guided Discovery

Inquiry based learning1

Inquiry-based Learning


Students Engaged

Thought Provoking

Discovery Learning


Problem Solvers

Guided Discovery

Active Participants

Inquiry based learning2

Inquiry-based Learning

  • Physics: a model for reaching lower division students

  • Proposed Explorations: Two course sequence in



  • First courses started mostly Spring 2005

Student research classes

Student Research Classes

  • Course Credit for students conducting undergraduate research

  • Course Credit for students learning about the processes involved in undergraduate research

Student research classes1

Student Research Classes

  • Undergraduate Research Course

    • Students conducting research

    • Working with a mentor

    • Already exists in many departments

      • BIOL, CHEM, PHYS

    • Hoping to extend to other departments

      • Proposal: cross-listed UR course

Student research classes2

Student Research Classes

  • Course credit for students learning about the process of research

    • Physics has a model

    • Do others have something similar ?

    • 1 hour pass/fail credit ?

    • What would you do for second year ?

  • Part of building a undergraduate research community

Student weekly seminar series

Student Weekly Seminar Series



KOM 122


Great Talks!


Please help us spread the word.

Laboratory internship

Laboratory Internship

  • Proposed: use Chemistry’s model for teaching their students about being lab assistants

  • Need to think of the appropriate transitions for other disciplines

  • Looking for volunteers

    • Course reassigned time available

Undergraduate research community

Undergraduate Research Community

  • Aim: Create a community of undergraduate research students across the STEM disciplines.

  • Why?

    • Better connection to discipline

    • Support structure/role models

    • Interdisciplinary appreciation

  • NSF: Why? = STEM student retention

Undergraduate research community1

Undergraduate Research Community

  • How do we get more students involved in research?

    • Pay them

    • Offer more research opportunities

    • Help them find faculty mentors

    • Teach them to compete for funds and external research opportunities

Undergraduate research community2

Undergraduate Research Community

  • Academic year research awards

    • Administered through the Undergraduate Research Council

    • Awards $1000 (+$500 for faculty mentor)

      • Plus supply funds up to $300

    • Assistants $500

    • Applications due in mid-Fall semester (perhaps earlier next year)

Undergraduate research community3

Undergraduate Research Community

$500 is not much but…


Undergraduate research community4

Undergraduate Research Community

  • Summer Research Teams

    • Research project designed and led by MTSU faculty member ($5000)

    • 2 MTSU undergraduates ($4000/$3000)

    • High school teacher and high school student. ($3500/$2000)

    • Everybody gets paid!

Undergraduate research community5

Undergraduate Research Community

  • Social engineering

    • Undergraduate research student lunch seminars (Wed. 12:40 pm KOM 123)

    • Undergraduate Research Symposium (April 15th)

    • Summer social program TBD

    • Ideas???

Off campus partnerships

Off-Campus Partnerships

  • Academia (REU’s)

  • Government

  • Industry (STEP-IN)

  • Public Schools (STEP-MTeams)

Off campus reus

Off-Campus REUs

  • NSF-REU programs

  • NASA

    Jet Propulsion Labs

  • National Laboratories

    Oak Ridge

  • Other

    Max Planck Institute, CRNS

Industry partnerships step in

Industry Partnerships (STEP-IN)

  • Local industries / government

  • Substantive: 10 week summer research experience

  • Paid: $5000

  • Well-Defined: Expectations

  • Learning Experience: 2 mentors

  • Evaluated: Written evaluations, report

High school partners

High School Partners

  • Local: Rutherford County schools

  • Lasting impact: High school teacher/student pair

  • Substantive: 6 week commitment

  • Team Effort: Interaction with an MTSU team

Closing thoughts

Closing Thoughts

  • Research community = STEM retention

  • Pay is important

  • Faculty participation is vital!

  • Academic year and Summer research teams

Closing thoughts1

Closing Thoughts

  • Are YOU interested in

    • using discovery-based learning in class?

    • helping develop a research course?

    • improving laboratory instruction by students?

  • Please let us know (

    • We can help form connections

Closing thoughts2

Closing Thoughts

  • STEP: Research early and often for undergraduates at MTSU

  • STEPMT: Builds a research community at MTSU for ugs and mentors

  • STEP-IN: Brings community research to MTSU

  • STEP-MTeams: Shares MTSU research with the community!

  • REUs: Sends MTSU students into the world

Closing thoughts3

Closing Thoughts

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