Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Chemistry Kelly Neiles and Associate Professor of Chemistry Daniel Chase were recently awarded a collaborative grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) titled “Broadening Instructional Innovation in the Chemistry Laboratory through Excellence in Curriculum Development.” The $1,980,000 award (with $1,017,000 going to St. Mary's College of Maryland) represents the largest externally sponsored award in more than 10 years and is quite possibly the largest in the College's history; it will take place over the course of five years.
In this collaborative grant, Principal Investigators (PI) Neiles and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Maia Popova of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) along with co-PIs Chase and Professor Mitchell Croatt (also UNCG), will develop and implement a professional development (PD) program to equip chemistry instructors with evidence-based practices in effective curriculum development. The comprehensive PD program, which will include a one-week summer institute held at SMCM each summer of the grant, will empower chemistry educators to enhance student learning in chemistry laboratories by promoting scientific practices and fostering a sense of belonging. Moreover, as part of the PD program, participants will create and disseminate more than 40 new inquiry-based laboratory projects, which have been shown to be more effective for student learning than traditional cookbook-style laboratory experiences.
The grant is part of the NSF DUE Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program as a Level 2 project in the Institutional and Community Transformation track. This track funds innovative work to improve undergraduate STEM education and research on the organizational change processes involved in implementing evidence-based practices. To meet these goals, Neiles, Popova, Chase and Croatt’s project aims to establish a nationwide community of chemistry laboratory curriculum developers equipped with the knowledge, skills and resources to implement effective instructional reforms. By receiving this NSF grant, SMCM is being recognized on a national scale as an innovative and distinctive leader in STEM education, a recognition that aligns with Pillar I of the strategic plan, The Rising Tide. For more information, please see the NSF Award page.