Goal is to Attract More Students to STEM Fields – Posted 3/2/15

Jenifer Martin, assistant professor of biology, and Keri Flanagan, assistant professor of chemistry at County College of Morris (CCM), will be joining a select group of teachers from across the nation this July at the 2015 Project Kaleidoscope Summer Leadership Institute II at Claggett Center in Adamstown, MD.

Nine top science teachers will mentor attendees on leadership skills for directing innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives on their campuses.

“Currently, there is a shortage of educated workers in STEM fields. In the Department of Biology and Chemistry, our goal is to see increased enrollment and retention in our programs to get educated workers into those fields,” says Martin. “Learning how to make STEM courses more relevant to students so they are attracted to these fields is very important. That’s what these mentoring sessions help teachers to do.”

This honor comes on the heels of a $199,999 grant, proposed by Flanagan and Martin, that was recently awarded to the Department of Biology and Chemistry at CCM by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support programs such as the college’s new Pathways of Applied Career Experience (PACE) science initiative. PACE was developed to increase enrollment and retention rates for science students. Through the program, students enrolled in the college’s biotechnology and chemical technology programs are provided with internships and other field experience, along with a learning environment that emphasizes problem solving, team work and higher-level thinking.

Also as part of the NSF grant, CCM science faculty are incorporating Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) activities into a number of classes. POGIL is a student-centered strategy that engages students in learning by having them work in small groups on projects that guide them toward the formulation of their own conclusions.

“With POGIL, the emphasis is on learning as an interactive process, rather than a solitary task of listening and memorization,” says Flanagan, who is serving as the principal investigator for the NSF grant.

CCM offers associate of science degree programs in biotechnology and chemical technology, along with an environmental science option. By constantly exploring new curriculum, new teaching approaches and enhanced teacher leadership, CCM is providing educational innovations designed to give students an edge in the growing STEM job market.

Photos: Jenifer Martin, Keri Flanagan, professors of science at County College of Morris.

Credit: Shelley Kusnetz Photography