STEM Educators’ Lecture

STEM Educators' Lecture

Each spring the CAT hosts the STEM Educators' Lecture, an interactive workshop featuring a speaker who is advancing the field of STEM pedagogy through their research and/or practice. While STEM-focused, faculty and teaching assistants from all disciplines are welcome.

STEM Educators' Lecture 2024:

Unmasking the “Isms” in STEM Education to Promote Equitable Teaching and Learning  

Presented by: Tara Nkrumah, Ph. D. and Cornelio "Coky" Aguilera

April 10, 2024, 2:00-5:00pm

Shusterman Hall  

1838 N. Park Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122 

(Liacouras Walk between Barrack Hall and Fox School of Business)


Innovative approaches to STEM access for minoritized populations can help dismantle pedagogical barriers to equitable STEM education. In this workshop, we will be introducing Theater of the Oppressed (TO) as a methodology to promote faculty’s critical consciousness development, and framing culturally relevant STEM pedagogy (CRSP) as a tool to unmask the “isms” (e.g., racism, sexism, classism, and ableism) that hinder equitable teaching and learning. TO uses theater games and activities as techniques to transform oppressive structures and support faculty in resolving conflicts. We will engage participants in hands-on, team building TO techniques to transfer the theory of culturally relevant pedagogy into practice in STEM education. In addition, participants will learn important skills in order to recognize, confront, and remediate the cultural issues related to inequities in STEM education.

About Tara Nkrumah, Ph.D.

Tara Nkrumah, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Preparation, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. Her research on equitable teaching practices for anti-oppressive discourse in education and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) uses theatre of the oppressed to explore culturally relevant/responsive leadership and pedagogy. Her work is published in the International Review of Qualitative Research, Cultural Studies in Science Education, The Science Teacher, Journal of African American Women and Girls in Education, Journal of Language and Literacy, Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Science Education and International Journal of STEM Education

About Cornelio "Coky" Aguilera

Cornelio “Coky” Aguilera (he, him, el, del, etc.) having studied as an Acting Specialist at UW Madison, Coky has been working professionally with the following Tampa-area companies since 2012: Stageworks Theatre, The Tampa Repertory Theatre, St. Petersburg Opera Company, RQL Productions, Your Real Stories Theatre, Jobsite Theater, The ThruLine Company, and the Off-Central Players. It is his honor to be working with the Outcast Theatre Collective as an officer and facilitator since its inception and has collaborated with the following: Arizona State University, the University of Wisconsin Madison, Western Michigan University, the University of South Florida Tampa, and YWCA Metro Phoenix.

Previous STEM Educators' Lecture Presentations:

2023 STEM Educators' Lecture with Cynthia Bauerle

Utilizing an Ethical Reasoning Framework to Create More Equitable STEM Education presented by Cynthia Bauerle, Professor of Biology at James Madison University

Approaches to STEM education which explore the role and impact of science on addressing complex societal challenges can provide learners the opportunity to develop scientific understanding in a human context and consider an ethically-grounded 21st century STEM education. These skills are essential for participating in a citizenry grappling with the impact of scientific and technological advances amidst pervasive social and global inequities, political disruption and rapidly emerging impacts of climate change. In addition, attending to socio-ethical dimensions of STEM education can result in more inclusive classrooms and curricula, enabling educators to model equitable ways of learning and doing science.

This interactive lecture will introduce the Ethical Reasoning Instrument (ERITM), a tool that guides us on how to integrate eight characteristics of ethical reasoning practice into the design of student learning activities, outcomes assessment, and pedagogy. The ERITM provides inherently more equitable learning experiences for students as it gives faculty the opportunity to develop courses that cross disciplinary boundaries, account for cultural differences, involve collaboration and communication in making ethical decisions in science, and engage students in critical reflection and problem solving. Faculty will consider questions such as, “Does the course provide opportunities for students to learn about inequities in science and the consequences of ignoring inequities in the practice of science?” “Are learning assessments constructed in a way to ensure equity for learners?” as they consider how to use the ERITM in designing and teaching more ethically-grounded and equitable STEM courses.

2022 STEM Educators' Lecture with André Thomas

A Game-based Approach to Teaching Calculus: Implications of the Research for STEM Courses

Calculus is a required subject for any STEM degree, yet 38% of students fail calculus. Ninety-seven percent of students play video games 4 hours or more every week, and research has shown that video games can be a very effective medium to engage students and help them master difficult content. In this talk, Game-Based learning (GBL) expert André Thomas will share with you how his team has been able to help students increase mastery of calculus by up to 25% using a purposeful designed game. He will explain what GBL is and the difference between GBL and gamification, the research behind GBL, and strategies for implementing GBL in your STEM classes. André’s team has developed educational games that are used in colleges and universities across the globe, and in this talk he will share with you the challenges, opportunities and research encountered along the way.

André Thomas' passion for game-based learning resonates inside and outside of the classroom. A graduate of LCAD MFA in Game Design, he founded and serves as the director of the LIVE Lab in the Department of Visualization at Texas A&M University, where he also teaches game design, game development and interactive graphics techniques. In 2014, he founded Triseum, where he serves as CEO and leads the creation of its award winning academic video games. He is an EdTech Leadership award winner, National Academy of Sciences board member, National Arts Education Association lead instructor, and Chillennium Game Jam chair. André also has been invited to speak at numerous education and technology events both in the U.S. and abroad, including SXSW, TEDx, ASU-GSV, BETT, Chinese Academy of Fine Arts, Austrian Ministry of Education and European Schoolnet. His game-based learning insights and ideas are featured in The Conversation, the Huffington Post, Austin Business Journal, eCampus News and Learning Solutions Magazine, to name a few.

With more than 25 years in CGI production, André has worked around the world on legendary video games, live action feature films and memorable commercials. Previously he was Head of Graphics for EA Sports Football games (including NCAA, Head Coach, NFL Tour and Madden, the longest running and most successful sports franchise in games industry). He also created graphics for such notable films as Men in Black, Con Air, Independence Day, Valiant, Ant Bully and Tomorrow Never Dies.

2021 STEM Educators' Lecture with Lisa Corwin

Failing (in order) to Succeed: Helping STEM Students to Approach Challenges, Cope With Failures, and Develop Scientific Resilience

As we face the future, there can be little doubt that tomorrow’s scientists will need to be risk-taking and resilient individuals who are willing to tackle complex problems and who are adept at navigating and recovering from scientific failures quickly and efficiently. However, as STEM educators, we are rarely trained to help students develop these skills and navigate the psychological complexities of coping with failure. This workshop is designed as a primer for STEM educators interested in helping their students develop scientific resilience. In this workshop, you will reflect on their own experiences with STEM challenges and failure, learn about psychological constructs at play when STEM students engage with challenges and cope with failures, and explore how to create classroom environments that promote student’s development of scientific resilience. This workshop will provide the initial knowledge, vocabulary, and background from which you may independently explore literature and interventions related to the development of scientific resilience.

Lisa Corwin is an Assistant Professor in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is a Discipline Based Education Researcher and focuses on understanding how learning experiences in STEM classrooms, and specifically research-based courses, can help students to develop scientific resilience, creativity, and civic engagement. Corwin has received multiple grants to study how graduate and undergraduate cohort-based research experiences promote student resilience and persistence in STEM, and she is Co-PI with Drs. Jen Heemstra and Louise Charkoudian for a Research Coordination Network entitled Factors affecting Learning, Attitudes, and Mindsets in Education or FLAMEnet which focuses on how intrapersonal factors at play in STEM classrooms influence students’ development of resilience.

2020 STEM Educators' Lecture with Julie Dangremond Stanton

"Metacognitive Regulation: How Undergraduate Students Evaluate and Adjust their Approaches to Learning in Science," lecture by Julie Dangremond Stanton, Assistant Professor of Cellular Biology, University of Georgia.

2019 STEM Educators' Lecture with Lisa Stoddard

Asset Mapping: Empowering Student Project Teams to Perform more Effectively and Equitably, Elisabeth (Lisa) Stoddard, Assistant Teaching Professor, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Studies show that student learning and student project outcomes are improved when students are assigned work in teams, versus independently. However, this assumes that students can take advantage of the rich cognitive and identity diversity within their teams, and are not hampered by bias, stereotyping, and dysfunction. We have developed, tested, and refined several asset-based tools and modules to help students and faculty identify, manage, and mitigate these issues. Our research shows these tools can improve equitable and effective teamwork by overcoming stereotypes, building student confidence, and minimizing task assignment bias. Participants will engage with these tools on teams as their own students would, and work to adapt them to their own assignments.

2018 STEM Educators' Lecture with David Asai

Harnessing Diversity to Improve STEM Excellence: Race Matter, Dr. David Asai, Senior Director for Science Education, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

As STEM educators, we know that the ability to find creative solutions to difficult problems is enhanced significantly when we can draw on a diverse group who approach the problem with different tools and approaches. And yet, we often do a poor job of tapping into the enormous potential of diverse populations, and struggle to build diversity in our fields. Dr. David Asai will explore how we can build diversity and harness its benefits by promoting an inclusive environment in our classrooms. He will present some concrete strategies educators can implement to improve our ability to find, nurture and retain diverse students in our disciplines.

2017 STEM Educators' Lecture with Sheryl Sorby

STEM Educators' Lecture: Improving 3-D Spatial Skills, Sheryl Sorby

The ability to visualize in three dimensions is a cognitive skill that has been shown to be important for success in many STEM fields. For instance, in engineering, the ability to mentally rotate 3-D objects is especially important. Unfortunately, of all the cognitive skills, 3-D rotation abilities exhibit robust gender differences, favoring males. The assessment of 3-D spatial skills and associated gender differences has been a topic of educational research for nearly a century; however, a great deal of the previous work has been aimed at merely identifying differences. Sheryl Sorby’s research aims to identify practical methods for improving 3-D spatial skills, especially for female students. This presentation details the significant findings obtained over the past several years through this research and identifies strategies that appear to be effective in developing 3-D spatial skills and in contributing to student success.

Dr. Sheryl Sorby is a Professor of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. She is the former Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the College of Engineering at Michigan Technological University and chair of the Engineering Fundamentals Department. She also served at the National Science Foundataion as a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education. She received a BS in Civil Engineering, an MS in Engineering Mechanics, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, all from Michigan Tech.

Dr. Sorby has a well-established research program in spatial visualization and has received numerous grants from the NSF to further her work in developing and assessing 3-D spatial skills. Her spatial skills curriculum has been adopted by nearly 30 engineering programs across the United States. In 2005 she received the Betty Vetter award for Research on Women in Engineering for her work in improving the 3-D spatial skills of engineering students. She has published more than 150 papers in journals and conference proceedings and is the author of seven textbooks.

2016 STEM Educators's Lecture with Susan Singer

STEM Educators' Lecture: Integrating Research and Practice to Improve Student Success, Dr. Susan Singer

Across the United States, initiatives at all levels are converging to improve the quality of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for undergraduates. From the Federal STEM Education 5-year Strategic Plan to a sourcebook on Achieving Systemic Change authored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association of American Universities, Association for Public and Land-grant Universities, and Association of American Colleges and Universities, a clear vision for advancing undergraduate STEM learning is being implemented. For all these changes in the learning environment to take hold, metrics, indicators, and assessment tools need to be aligned with the new learning goals. Preparing a globally competitive workforce - including future teachers - and a scientifically literate populace depends on our collective success in furthering a robust research and implementation infrastructure. This talk will focus on both progress and challenges ahead in spreading improvement in undergraduate teaching and learning.  A reception with light refreshments will follow the lecture.