NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Student Success Update

Three NSM Departments Participate in Gardner Institute’s Gateways to Completion Project

The Gateway to Completion Course Redesign Steering Committee Kick Off meeting was held June 23. At the meeting, the Departments of Chemistry, Computer Science, and Mathematics discussed plans to improve the design and delivery of curriculum for gateway courses, in particular those which have high enrollment and high DWIF rates (>25-30%).

This 3-year project is a collaboration between UH and the Gardner Institute. Faculty committees in the respective departments will analyze courses and make recommendations for course design/redesign, implement and assess any changes to the course, and continue to refine and assess the courses based on implementation outcomes. NSM courses to be reviewed include Fundamentals of Chemistry I and II (CHEM 1331/1332), Computer Science and Programming (COSC 1306), and College Algebra (MATH 1314).

Upon completion of the project, each committee will discuss their outcomes/plans with their respective chairs and the dean to determine how to move forward with recommendations for the courses. Participation in this project was voluntary, and it provides NSM faculty the opportunity to brainstorm on innovative ways to improve student success. This process may serve as a model for addressing additional NSM gateway courses which may be serving as a barrier to completion for some students.

teachHOUSTON Staff and Alumni recognized for dedication to STEM Education

Leah McAlister-Shields, Instructor and Faculty Advisor for teachHOUSTON, and Carlos Perez (‘17), teachHOUSTON alumni (Biology), were recognized at the 2021 UTeach STEM Educators (USEA) Conference for their passion, innovation, and dedication for STEM teacher and student education. McAlister-Shields received the USEA Outstanding Staff Award for developing and implementing student success initiatives that support the persistence of underrepresented minority STEM majors to become teachers. Perez received the USEA Outstanding Alumnus Award for his work as a science educator and teacher-mentor. Perez teaches ESL, On-Level, and Honors Biology at Cypress Ridge High School, a Title I school in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. He serves as the team lead for biology, leading their biology program for the New Arrival Center and the district’s efforts to modify the biology curriculum to meet the needs of their students.

Office of First Year Programs: Preparing for Fall 2021 Cohort

The Office of First Year Programs is working on activities to re-engage the NSM community as we transition out of the pandemic. Rather than hold the traditional NSM Block Party at the start of the fall semester, smaller events are being planned to promote networking and community building for NSM students, faculty, and staff. Events will include meet-and-greets with the Student Leaders and fun activities like scavenger hunts and social media challenges.

TC Energy Summer Scholars Academy Updates

In addition to their coursework, the 46 TC Energy Summer Scholars Academy participants have numerous opportunities to learn from alumni and professionals about careers and how to succeed in college.

Career Panels

Held June 10 and 25, the panels gave students the opportunity to interact with UH alumni and TC Energy employees as they learned about the wide variety of careers available to STEM majors. During the events, panelists discussed their career paths, as well as shared stories of resilience when they had to work through setbacks, failures, and barriers.

Lunch and Learn

On June 16, the students participated in a Lunch and Learn hosted by TC Energy’s University Recruiting and Emerging Talent Leader, Melanie Collins, and Community Involvement Lead, Trevence Mitchell. Their discussion on time management and its importance for student success reinforced information received through the College Success mini-course facilitated by Dr. Donna Smith, Program Director in UH Exploratory Studies.

Weekly Talks: New Addition

Summer Scholars Talks are led by Ashley Askew, NSM Director of Planning and Assessment. In the weekly sessions, students discuss goal setting, creating accountability systems to help them stay on track, and issues such as procrastination and imposter syndrome which can derail their college careers. Sessions begin with small group discussions of successes and challenges encountered in the previous week. By celebrating wins and talking through difficulties, students are able to create bonds with their peers and hear different perspectives and solutions to the obstacles they face. Students report that they find the support of their fellow scholars encouraging and helpful. The hope is that students will become comfortable reaching out to peers, faculty/staff, and university resources when they are struggling rather than attempting to rely solely on themselves to power through challenges.