Di Xu is Co-PI on NSF $1.5 Million 5-Year Grant to Study STEM Faculty Professional Learning in the Zone of Proximal Development
Assistant Professor Di Xu is Co-PI, along with Mary McCarthy-Hintz (CSU Sacramento), on a new National Science Foundation grant, Building Capacity: STEM Faculty Professional Learning in the Zone of Proximal Development. PI is Lynn Tashiro, also of CSU Sacramento. The $1,500,000 grant, which will extend for five years, is intended to advance knowledge about the strategies that build capacity for change in STEM teaching, learning, and curricular programming.
To contribute to both STEM student success and advance the field of study of STEM faculty professional development, Sacramento State together with University of California Irvine will implement the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) STEM faculty development program and four quadrant (4Q) quantitative and qualitative longitudinal study. Utilizing online, hybrid, and face-to-face training formats, ZPD professional development will meet faculty where they are in their professional career and their understanding of equity practices in the classroom. Developmental and adaptive over time, the curriculum will include content ranging from (1) fundamental teaching and learning skills through (2) discipline specific evidence-based best practices to (3) scholarship and critical consciousness for equity and institutional change.
By reaching faculty who teach developmental math courses and lower division gateway STEM courses, this project will address Priority Area 1 by addressing critical structural transitions for students as they move from lower to upper division courses. The 4Q research addresses Priority Area 3 through a research project that asks: Can faculty professional development in the area of pedagogy and equity make a measurable change in student persistence, graduation, and closing the equity gap? A quantitative quasi-experimental study utilizing institutional and program data and a qualitative
longitudinal study using observation and interview data will examine faculty and student change as a result of STEM faculty participation in the ZPD STEM program. The four research quadrants will address (1) faculty perception, (2) faculty classroom practice, (3) student perception, and (4) student
performance and persistence in university STEM programs.
The ZPD professional development program will help faculty identify the roles that diversity, intercultural competence, and critical consciousness play in the development and persistence of students underrepresented in STEM, providing an adaptive model to transform both teaching and discipline-defined cultural practices. Large amounts of structured and unstructured data will be disaggregated to examine instructional and curricular effects on underrepresented groups with an eye to developmental math, gateway and lower division courses, while qualitative ethnographic data will provide diverse lenses through which to analyze data and postulate explanations. Sacramento State is a high capacity teaching
institution designated as both a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Island Serving Institution (AANAPISI). This project will have an initial impact on 37,500 STEM students as they learn from 125 faculty using evidence-based and equity minded strategies, with a potential compounding impact of up to 56,300 STEM students over 5 years.