USC

Now What?

Background and Focus


The Now What? An Institutional STEM Effectiveness Framework for Bringing National Recommendations to Scale project is designed to develop a comprehensive institutional STEM Effectiveness Framework to help campus leaders translate national report recommendations into scalable and sustainable institutional actions that improve recruitment, access, retention, learning, and completion for all students in all STEM disciplines. The goal of the Framework is to foster organizational learning by assisting institutions in identifying gaps in their STEM-related performance and creating interventions for improvement. The Framework will be comprised of two parts: 1) an institutional readiness audit and 2) a rubric with benchmarking tools for evaluating educational effectiveness in STEM. The Framework will also contain research-based resources and specific recommendations for different institutional goals (e.g., first year student success, graduation rates for minority students) and characteristics (e.g., institutional type, student body, location). It will also include an analysis of barriers and challenges overcome by participating campuses.

Project Funding


Project Kaleidoscope was awarded a grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to fund a multi-year project to develop a framework for higher education institutions to engage in organizational learning while improving STEM effectiveness. The W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 as a philanthropic institution to contribute to humanity and focuses on science and engineering research, medical research, undergraduate education, and southern California. Their grant programs invest in people and programs that make a difference in quality of life, now and for the future. They promote inventive approaches to instruction in undergraduate education, in the belief that a high-quality, well-rounded college education is vital for tomorrow’s leaders.

Research Team


Adrianna Kezar
Principal Investigator
Dr. Adrianna Kezar
Co-Director of Pullias Center, Adrianna serves as the researcher and external evaluator for this project sponsored by Project Kaleidoscope, one of the
leading advocates in the United States for what
works in building and sustaining strong
undergraduate programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Sean Gehrke
Co-Investigator
Sean Gehrke
Sean Gehrke earned his B.A. in psychology from Lewis & Clark College and his M.Ed. in counseling and personnel services from the University of Maryland College Park. Upon earning his Masters degree he worked as a campus administrator in residence life for Whitman College. He is a doctoral student in urban education policy at USC and working with Dr. Kezar on the project.

 

Research Design and Method


Participating campuses from across California, led by PKAL personnel and Dr. Kezar, will contribute to the development, testing and evaluation of the Framework, based on their institutional experiences, priorities and actions carried out over the project period. Campuses teams will work together to use the developed Framework to make progress toward reaching campus STEM learning and student success goals. A summary of the basic methodology of the project for each year and the primary aims follows:

  • Year One: Framework development will occur as project teams spend 6 months working on their campus to further develop and refine a component of a Framework draft that best matches their institutional context, experience and priorities.
  • Year Two: A revised Framework will be tested on each campus as they complete audits and develop plans for using the rubric and benchmarking tools. A diverse team of faculty, staff and administrators will carry out this work on each campus.
  • Year Three: Feedback on the usefulness of the Framework for planning and making progress toward reaching improved STEM learning and success will be collected and a final Framework and analysis of its use will be completed.
  • Year Four: A final version of the Framework will be disseminated and published with campus case studies, methods and other useful resources for implementing change using the Framework.