Achieving Critical Transformations in Undergraduate Programs in Mathematics (ACT UP Math)
Effective Years: 2022-2025
The disparity in achievement and access for students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in STEM are well documented, but there remains a lack of attention to what to do with this knowledge and how to measure the impact of improvement efforts beyond pass rates and demographics. While many university mathematics departments value providing diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) student experiences, the faculty often do not have the professional training to engage with DEI work or measure its progress, which can lead to disengagement from these initiatives. Achieving Critical Transformation in Undergraduate Programs of Mathematics is a Level II, Track II ECR Broadening Participation in STEM project. This project aims to conduct foundational research to identify the mechanisms and structures that best support mathematics stakeholders in making data-informed decisions to promote DEI and critically transform introductory mathematics courses and programs. Addressing issues relating to DEI in introductory mathematics courses are important to broadening participation in STEM disciplines. Mathematics departments are not only capable of engaging in these issues and improving the mathematics experiences for students from underrepresented populations but are significantly well-positioned to do so because of the elevated role that mathematics plays in students’ STEM careers, STEM identities, and sense of belonging in the classroom.
This project builds on the strength of two prior national studies of introductory mathematics programs, Progress through Calculus and Student Engagement in Mathematics through an Institutional Network for Active Learning. Researchers can leverage this existing body of quantitative and qualitative data to engage key stakeholders in improvement cycles. This project aims to deploy a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) model to bring together three undergraduate mathematics department teams in partnership with educational researchers to analyze their local data, in comparison to the national sample. Utilizing a NIC framework, researchers will provide professional development and technical assistance to the department team, along with focused research to interview students, faculty, and instructors across these communities to inform departmental transformation efforts, as well as empower sites to develop the structures needed for lasting change. In a broader sense, this project will also serve as a model to assist members of other institutions, including community colleges, and other STEM fields working to address experiences and outcomes related to DEI in STEM education.
This project is supported by NSF's EHR Core Research (ECR) program. The ECR program emphasizes fundamental STEM education research that generates foundational knowledge in the field. Investments are made in critical areas that are essential, broad, and enduring: STEM learning and STEM learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development. The program supports the accumulation of robust evidence to inform efforts to understand, build theory to explain and suggest interventions and innovations to address persistent.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.