FAQ icon

Need Answers?

Directory Icon

Email, Phone, and Addresses

Graduation cap icon

Explore Degrees

Professor Tim McKay and alumna Nita Kedharnath focus on diversity and equity in introductory college STEM courses

May 17, 2019

This spring, educational leaders from 10 top public research universities, led by U-M, came together to focus on equity and inclusion in large introductory STEM courses. Their project, named the Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses (SEISMIC) project, aims to “shake up” the way in which students begin their careers in STEM. Other founding institutions include Michigan State University, Indiana University, Purdue University, University of Minnesota, Arizona State University, University of Pittsburgh, University of California Santa Barbara, University of California Irvine, and University of California Davis.


School of Education alumna Nita Kedharnath (BS '18, TeachCert '18), is the project manager of SEISMIC. Drawing on her schooling in secondary science and math education, Kedharnath says that the individual efforts of these universities represent a movement in the right direction, but she expects the SEISMIC project to live up to its name as its leaders share expertise, best practices, and tools.

“A key goal of this project is to set a new national standard for assessing the quality of foundational STEM courses — a course cannot be excellent unless it is equitable and inclusive,” Kedharnath said.

One of the earliest challenges that new STEM majors face involves the necessity of taking large introductory lecture courses in science, technology, engineering, and math. These courses can enroll hundreds, or even thousands, of students, which can especially dishearten those who do not see themselves represented among current STEM professionals. SEISMIC believes that this dissonance can lead students to abandon their dreams, which creates an overall societal loss, since the students who leave STEM fields are not addressing problems and making new discoveries.

“We’re going to work on big intro courses in a new way,” said Project Director Tim McKay, who teaches and does research in LSA’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, along with the School of Education. “Instead of working in a single course, we’ll bring together instructional teams from across all the STEM fields. Instead of working on just one campus, we will gather together teams from many universities. There is so much that we can learn from one another, especially when we bring together data about the student experience from all these different fields and all these different institutions.”

Concerns about equity and inclusion in STEM education go beyond gender to concerns about race, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation, politics, and generation in college. For example, African Americans and Hispanics hold only 9 percent and 7 percent of STEM career positions, respectively.

The first annual meeting of SEISMIC will take place on June 11-14 in Ann Arbor. It will feature keynote lectures from Emily Miller, the Association of American Universities’ associate vice president for policy; John Gates, Purdue University’s vice provost for diversity and inclusion; and Ramón Barthelemy, a physics education researcher who will be reviewing studies of inclusion for SEISMIC.


More News

June 26, 2020
CSHPE alumni Inger Bergom (AM ’08, PhD ’15), Pelema Ellis (PhD ’11), and Peter Bacevice (PhD ’10) co-wrote an article on student attitudes and health concerns about returning to campus in fall.
May 12, 2020
Liz Kolb, clinical associate professor of education technology and teacher education, is leading survey research on remote learning practices.
May 22, 2019
Alumna Anna R. Haskins received funding from the William T. Grant Scholars Program to execute a rigorous five-year research plan.
May 10, 2019
Bernardette Pinetta received a Ford Predoctoral Fellowship, and she will be researching the ways in which teaching practices inform the development of youths' ethnic-racial identities and motivations.
May 06, 2019
Professor Maisie Gholson was awarded a Faculty Early Career Development Award by the National Science Foundation. This is the National Science Foundation's most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty.
May 02, 2019
PhD student Michole Washington has received a Ford Predoctoral Fellowship. This fellowship is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource.
April 12, 2019
Miranda Fitzgerald, Educational Studies alumna, was awarded the Graduate Student Award for Literacy Research Excellence by the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Research in Reading and Literacy Special Interest Group.
April 11, 2019
In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dr. Awilda Rodriguez explains why people are fixated on elite colleges when it is also possible to get a good education at other institutions.
April 01, 2019
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has announced that Dr. Patricio Herbst will be the next editor in chief of the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education (JRME).
April 01, 2019
The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation awarded TeachingWorks with a grant to continue a fellowship program begun in 2017 with faculty in California. They will continue developing exemplary practices-based approaches in teacher education.
March 25, 2019
A Kamaria Porter, CSHPE doctoral candidate, is among ten graduate students to receive Rackham Community of Scholars summer fellowships awarded by The Institute for Research on Women and Gender.
March 20, 2019
In a HuffPost article, Professor Susan Dynarski explains the point of affirmative action in light of recent scandals at elite colleges.
March 11, 2019
In a Q&A format article, Nell Duke provides The 74 with advice for schools interested in project-based learning and discusses her research that shows how project-based learning can lead to academic gains for young children in high-poverty schools.