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International Journal of STEM Education



With the remarkable attention being paid to STEM education nationally, with the growing engagement of universities and colleges in STEM education reform, and with the rise of STEM education centers, SECs, assisting universities as they strive to achieve these reforms, this research provides insight into the roles of six SECs. Through a multi-dimensional cross-site comparison, we provide a lens into the ways in which SECs function on their campuses, illuminating possibilities for those seeking to strengthen undergraduate STEM education.


SECs play an important networking role on their campuses, where they inform and unify institutional efforts, serving to elevate their visibility and importance both internally and externally. Through their scholarship, SECs contribute to the knowledge base and provide funding, which add resources and incentives for the implementation of evidence-based instructional practices (EBIPs) and STEM education research. SECs augment these efforts with the assessment and evaluation of learning outcomes and curricular innovations. Additionally, SECs act as an internal resource for faculty and instructors providing programs and training to foster the application of EBIPs in STEM courses. Several SECs provide the infrastructure for broader impact activities, and act as an external funding resource.


STEM education centers make key contributions to their institutional environments. While the individual roles of these SECs on their campuses are distinctly unique, an in-depth look across six SECs reveals common areas of focus that allow these centers to enhance the undergraduate teaching and learning experience. Our results suggest that the ability of SECs to link STEM education research with teaching and learning initiatives provides a breadth of impact and attention across organizational levels. The analysis describes the ways in which these centers support institutional goals for undergraduate STEM education and relates these to areas of national priority. This research was carried out as part of a broader study, which informs the organizers of NSEC, the network of STEM education centers.







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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.