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New funding to support Inquiry for Inclusion project

The Office of the Provost announced a new $505,000 award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Inclusive Excellence Initiative. The initiative seeks to “support all students, regardless of where they come from and where they are going, to have a meaningful and positive experience in science through which they will better understand and engage in scientific thinking and discovery”. The six-year grant will support the Inquiry for Inclusion project at Boise State, which will engage faculty in STEM disciplines to increase the capacity for inclusion of all students, especially those who belong to groups underrepresented in the sciences.

Boise State is among 104 institutions across the country to receive funding and is a member of one of seven learning community clusters that will work both institutionally, and across institutions to support the goals of the initiative. The cluster will focus its work on how to cultivate, evaluate and reward effective and inclusive teaching. As part of the partnership, Boise State will manage additional funding to support the work of the cluster.

“The opportunity to collaborate with other institutions is messy and challenging, yet it presents an incredible opportunity to learn on multiple fronts at once with dedicated colleagues from across the country,” said Susan Shadle, project director.

The Inquiry for Inclusion project will support faculty to engage with course-level data (both qualitative and quantitative) to understand the student experience in STEM courses and to explore inequitable student outcomes.  The project will support faculty to act on what they learn to improve the learning experience for students.

“Excellent teaching is inclusive teaching,” Shadle said. “Our teaching and mentoring of students will be more successful if we pay close attention to how we might better serve our students and help them meet their education and career goals.”

The grant team will be visiting STEM departments to discuss ways to engage in the project, starting in January.

The proposed work aligns with the Boise State Blueprint for Success goal to “Improving Educational Access and Student Success.” In the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s national announcement, the group emphasized the population of students who leave STEM degree programs and the need to address this loss. These students disproportionately belong to groups identified within Boise State University’s Strategic Enrollment and Retention Plan as populations with gaps in access and graduation rates. By collaborating with this network of educational institutions and developing more data-driven decisions for courses, the investigators on the project aim to improve accessibility and retention for all students in STEM courses.

Leading the project is principal investigator Susan Shadle, vice provost for undergraduate studies, along with co-principal investigators Daniel Sanford, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning; Donna Llewellyn, executive director of the Institute for Inclusive and Transformative Scholarship; Jeremy Harper, interim managing director of the Boise State Uniting for Inclusion and Leadership in Diversity program; Diana Garza, senior assistant dean for student affairs in the College of Engineering and Devshikha Bose, senior instructional development Specialist in the Center for Teaching and Learning.