Mansy and collaborators receive funding from UF Office of Research

Congratulations to Dr. May Mansy (Co-PI) and UF collaborators for their recent grant funded by the UF Office of Research on their project, Cultivating equity in STEM classrooms at UF: A multidisciplinary collaboration to create a training course in inclusive, antiracist teaching practices for Learning Assistants (LAs) in STEM courses.

Only 20% of underrepresented students complete a STEM degree within five years. Low retention of Blacks in STEM has far-reaching repercussions. Dropouts experience self-doubt and low self-esteem, detrimental emotional states for the student and other Black community members, who may rescind potential plans to enter a STEM discipline to avoid disappointment. Furthermore, low percentages of Blacks in STEM classrooms poorly represent the community and deprives faculty, students, and our disciplines of a rich diversity of perspectives.

The project will make important contributions that help transform respective STEM disciplines, undergraduate STEM education, the team’s professional growth, race and race relations at UF and society at large.

Dr. May Mansy will start by founding a BME-focused Learning Assistant Program and designing the associated pedagogical training course. She will then incorporate contributions of this project into the BME-LA program to achieve three core objectives of effective educational reform:

  1. Transform undergraduate STEM instruction at UF by equipping LAs with knowledge and skills to enact antiracist, inclusive, and equitable practices.
  2. Guided by an excellent advisory board of Black STEM education leaders, design a transferable model for reforming undergraduate STEM education through antiracist, inclusive pedagogies.
  3. Create and disseminate, through open-access channels, a repository of professional development materials to infuse antiracist, inclusive, and equitable practices in undergraduate STEM education.

The project will leverage an existing effective instructional framework – the LA model. LAs are instructional leaders and peers, serving as both mentors and role models, and thus are uniquely positioned to impact students’ lives and academic outcomes, more so than course instructors and other personnel. The team will build on successes from prior implementations of the LA model at UF and strengthen them by targeting racial equity. They will accomplish this by striving for the following goals:

  1. Transformed practices: A cadre of LAs that are equipped with anti-racist, inclusive, and equitable practices and leadership skills for supporting diverse STEM learners’ socioemotional, cognitive, and metacognitive growth.
  2. Theory of change: A transferable and adaptable framework for developing instructional leaders, training LAs and undergraduate STEM educators in anti-racist, inclusive, and equitable pedagogy and instructional practices.
  3. Strategies and tools: Open-access professional development materials focusing on antiracism and equity in undergraduate STEM education. These materials will be created in Canvas, and shared through open-access platforms including CourseShare, the LA Alliance, and the Unizin online learning consortium.

The project brings together a team of disciplinary experts:

  • Dr. Christine Davis, Lecturer, Department of Biology
  • Dr. Sujata Krishna, Lecturer, Department of Physics
  • Dr. May Mansy, Lecturer, Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Dr. Julie Brown Associate Professor, School of Teaching and Learning
  • Dr. Pasha Antonenko, Associate Professor, School of Teaching and Learning

Advisory Board of Black leaders:

  • David Canton (History; Director of the African American Studies Program)
  • Natalie King (UF alumna; Science Education at Georgia State University)
  • Rose Pringle (Science Education)
  • Carl Simien (Director of Black Affairs, Multicultural and Diversity Affairs)