Community of Practice Fellowship - Diversifying Science and Engineering Curriculum

Ensuring that students from underrepresented groups participate and succeed in science and engineering (SE) college courses is critical for a diverse SE workforce and for a scientifically-literate society.  One research-based approach to attracting and retaining diverse groups of students in college-level SE courses is through representation, specifically, providing opportunities for students to become aware of diverse scientists and engineers, either through personal interaction or by inclusion of readings/studies by diverse authors in a course syllabus. In addition providing examples or cases that have personal or cultural relevance to students in order to illustrate core disciplinary concepts in SE further encourages students to persist and succeed in SE coursework. 

During the spring 2021 semester, The Council on Science and Technology (CST) at Princeton developed the first Community of Practice around the issue of diversifying the SE curriculum through course readings, cases, and examples. The Community was comprised of faculty members (“fellows”) who teach science or engineering courses and were interested in exploring and ultimately implementing change in their curricula. Read more in the article about CST's Diversifying STEM Curriculum initiative that was featured on Princeton’s Homepage.

The CST recruited a second cohort for the spring/summer 2022.  Currently, four faculty fellows are participating in our second Community of Practice cohort.  Some key questions that they are considering are:  

  • What does it mean to diversify STEM curriculum at Princeton?
  • What factors/considerations impact STEM faculty’s selection of readings, cases, and examples for their courses? What biases may be present in that selection?
  • How can STEM readings, cases, and examples illuminate the critical role of STEM in addressing issues of social justice?
  • How can diversifying STEM readings, cases, and examples impact students’ understanding of science and engineering as human endeavors representing contributions from a wide range of people and cultures? 
  • How can the inclusion of diverse readings, cases, and examples impact students’ confidence in and connectedness to STEM?    What are the implications for increased participation and retention in STEM?

The four fellows have committed to the following:

  • Participate in a series of working “community of practice” meetings during the Spring 2022 to address these and other questions surrounding diversifying STEM course readings, cases, and examples at Princeton;
  • Commit to making a significant change in one or more courses that you will teach during the 2022-2023 academic year that reflects your participation in the community of practice;
  • Collaborate with the CST on evaluating the impacts of the change on student learning and affect in STEM.

We anticipate findings to be shared in spring 2023.  Questions on the Community of Practice can be directed to Dr. Sami Kahn, Executive Director, CST.