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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

About CHANcE

Collaborative High Impact Activities in Natural Science Education (CHANcE)

The goal of the CHANcE Project is to create an inclusive environment for students from groups underrepresented in STEM, including "minorities" (URM) and first-generation students in courses in STEM departments (biology and chemistry) thereby providing a supportive campus culture at Syracuse University that will ensure that every student is respected and valued, a campus that is student-ready. Read more.

In five years, we anticipate that the Biology and Chemistry Departments will have implemented structures, policies, and practices with inclusive decision making and inclusive forms of power sharing on all levels of their department's work. As a result of these changes, we anticipate the elimination of the disparity between underrepresented and majority students in matriculation, persistence, and completion of biology and chemistry majors; and in pursuing advanced degrees in STEM or pursuing a STEM career.

Our theory of change is to implement strategies that move the Biology and Chemistry Departments toward a commitment to intentionally identify as culturally inclusive departments, and to engage in activities that foster cultural responsiveness and inclusion. To achieve our goal, biology and chemistry faculty will implement culturally responsive practices in their courses and redesign courses to incorporate active learning and authentic research experiences.

To improve cultural awareness and develop deep knowledge of specific high-impact practices for active learning pedagogy, biology and chemistry faculty will participate in the following activities. They will attend a professional development workshop off-campus each semester organized and facilitated by individuals with expertise in inclusive excellence, theory of change, and active learning pedagogy. In addition, biology and chemistry faculty will meet with a fellow faculty members, facilitated by a Discipline-Based Education Researcher (DBER). These activities will also support DBER graduate students in their development as future faculty.

We will measure our progress and learning by monitoring changes in the number of URM students who matriculate, persist, and graduate in STEM majors and who pursue advanced STEM degrees or STEM career. We will also monitor the level of understanding of inclusive and active learning pedagogy by faculty in biology and chemistry and the level to which they implement active learning practices in their classrooms. We will also determine whether URM students develop positive perceptions of "sense of belonging" in STEM and have increased research self-efficacy. We will monitor whether students are engaged in active learning in their biology and chemistry courses and have more authentic research experiences and have positive perceptions of gateway courses' inclusiveness.

In summary, the CHANcE Project is designed to eliminate institutional barriers to student success, using evidence-based practices to transform our courses and campus life so that they are more conducive to student success for all. Biology and Chemistry faculty will become champions of inclusive excellence as a result of their participation in professional development workshops designed to help them implement practices that mitigate racial/gender biases and other forms of miscommunication, privileging dominant norms, and value orientations.

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