AR Briefly

$2 Million grant will support STEM education at UA Little Rock

By: - September 12, 2022 3:53 pm
UA Little Rock professors pose for a photo

UA Little Rock professors, from left, Mark Baille, Ronia Kattoum, Michael Moore, David Montague and Lundon Pinneo received a large grant from the National Science Foundation to work to improve undergraduate education in the Donaghey College of STEM. (Ben Krain/UALR)

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has received a nearly $2 million National Science Foundation grant to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education that will enable hundreds of students to participate in a peer mentoring program.

This is the largest grant the university has received from NSF.

Researchers will use the five-year grant to implement teaching strategies aimed at increasing student engagement and retention in undergraduate STEM education. 

There will be a special focus placed on historically underserved populations, first-generation students and Pell Grant recipients who are likely to encounter barriers to their success in their lecture-based STEM courses, according to a press release.

“Our main focus is to increase the number of underserved students who successfully complete STEM courses,” assistant professor of education Lundon Pinneo said in a statement. “We want to identify current barriers for faculty and improve support systems so campus-wide we can close the equity gap.” 

An interdisciplinary team of faculty from the STEM Education Center, the School of Education and the Office of the Provost will collaborate on the initiative. 

UA Little Rock will implement NSF-funded interventions including the expansion of the Mobile Institute on Scientific Teaching and the Learning Assistant Program in the Donaghey College of STEM. The university is the only higher education institution in Arkansas that offers these two programs. 

MoSI workshops focus on active learning. Research shows students are 1.5 times more likely to pass courses in active learning classrooms than in traditional lectures. 

The grant will provide a $500 stipend for 75 STEM faculty members to complete the workshop during the next five years. Faculty will be recruited to join the first cohort of participants starting in the spring 2023 semester.

The grant also provides a $975 stipend for 605 students to participate in the Learning Assistant Program, allowing greater access for students who previously couldn’t afford to volunteer for this leadership role. 

The assistants will provide peer learning support for more than 9,000 of their classmates during the five years of the grant. Officials expect to support about 250 learning assistants per year by the end of the project.

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Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is a multimedia journalist who has reported since 2007 on a wide range of topics, including politics, health, education, immigration and the arts for NPR affiliates, print publications and digital platforms. A University of Arkansas alumna, she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and a master’s degree in documentary film.