Building educational theory through enacting reforms (BETTER) in STEM

While racially minoritized, low-income, and first-generation college students benefit the most from inclusive, research-based instructional strategies, they are least likely to experience them in undergraduate STEM courses across the United States. The National Science Foundation has funded a study at Western Washington University, entitled Building educational theory through enacting reforms (BETTER) in STEM (NSF #2111613). BETTER in STEM is a $3 million collaborative research project across three institutions to embed the use of inclusive, research-based instructional strategies within undergraduate STEM courses and departments. The project centers around creating and testing an instructional framework that STEM faculty and departments can use to define and adopt inclusive, student-centered STEM teaching and learning. To increase the applicability and generalizability of the research findings, this study will be conducted at WWU, along with a partnering community college (Whatcom Community College), and a large, predominantly Hispanic-serving institution (University of Texas- Rio Grande Valley). The project leaders at WWU are Dr. Dan Hanley (link), Dr. Emily Borda (link), and Shannon Warren (link), who work within the Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (SMATE) program. The BETTER in STEM project builds from prior STEM education projects at WWU, such as the NSF-funded, Change at the Core (C-Core) project (link), and the Advancing Excellence and Equity in Science (AEES) project (link), funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This study has the potential to significantly impact how STEM departments at two- and four-year institutions across the country encourage and support faculty members’ use of inclusive, research-based instructional strategies in their courses.

For more information about the BETTER in STEM project, please contact Dr. Dan Hanley at: