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NSF Awards $1.1 Million to Learning

SCIENCE PROFESSOR USES AWARD MONEY

In the summer of last year, the National Science Foundation awarded Assistant Professor of Science Education Robert “Bud” Talbot $1.1 million to study and help expand the Learning Assistance program.

The Learning Assistance program invites students who have been successful in lower division math and science courses to work closely with the professor the following semester and help shape the introductory courses.

“LA are a bridge to the students, and make these big classes feel smaller,” said Associate Professor of Biology Laurel Hartley. “The LA can help facilitate active learning in the class in a way that a professor alone couldn’t do.”

The grant, which Talbot received in August 2015, will run its course in July 2019. It’s a collaborative grant with Florida International University and North Dakota State University.

“CU Denver is the lead institution on the grant,” Hartley said. “We can have more data that can be broadly generalizable among different types of institutions and student population.”

Talbot and Hartley authorize the use of the funds, which helps pay for research, supports staff, and pays for tuition for a couple students involved.

“The NSF expects that we will be able to deliver to the research community more details on what kind of practices should be offered in these courses to help students succeed,” Talbot said. “We really value this program because we want to promote student success for undergraduates,” Talbot said.

Surveys, observations, and other sources will be used to collect data in introductory biology, physics, and chemistry courses. Questions about the lessons students are learning in the course will help Talbot and those involved understand what helps students succeed.

“We have a lot of different data sources for our faculty, for LA, and for the students,” Talbot said. “We can build a large quantitative model.”

Talbot and Hartley both hope to accomplish a lot by 2019, ultimately learning how to help students succeed in the classroom and become more interested in STEM courses.

“I think it will benefit CU Denver immensely in that we’re studying our courses and our faculty and our student population, and how we can have students be successful,” Hartley said.

—Dilkush Khan

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