Being Human in STEM (taught Spring 2019 and Spring 2020) is both an Amherst College course and a larger project that works across departments and institutions to explore how colleges can foster more inclusive STEM communities, and how we can help students and faculty navigate diverse identities in the classroom and beyond. The example we present here is a small but crucial piece of this larger program.
The Being Human in Stem website lists as a resource the article Structure Matters: 21 Teaching Strategies to Promote Student Engagement and Cultivate Classroom Equity by Kimberly D. Tanner of San Francisco State University. One of its recommended practices is to create a flow of information from the student to the instructor, information about the student’s background in STEM, their learning experiences and struggles thus far, their goals for the course, and how they view themselves as a STEM learner.
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Google Forms to create surveys.
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To learn more about the students in the class and their lived experience in STEM, Professor Jaswal consulted with Dr. Sarah Bunnell, Associate Director & STEM Specialist in the Center for Teaching and Learning. Together they created a Google Form and linked to it from Moodle. This Google form served as a pre and post instrument to capture any change in student perceptions by the end of the course.
- Number of semesters at Amherst
- Number of STEM courses taken at Amherst
- Their seasons for taking the HSTEM course
- What the student hoped to learn, about the topic and about themselves
- Whether they identified as a “STEM person”, and whether or not they have “thrived” or “survived” STEM classes.
Students took the survey in class, on the first day. This survey primed the students for the next assignment, which was to write a longer reflective “HSTEM Story” about their experience being a human in STEM.
Students also took the same survey at the end of the semester (some of the questions were rephrased to reflect on what they learned). This allowed the faculty and teaching partners to assess how students’ view of the topic, and of themselves, changed over time.
Google Forms provides a user friendly and accessible platform for collecting this type of data, and it can feed results into a Google Sheet for further analysis.
- How to Create an Accessible Google Form – Courtesy University of Minnesota
- Google Forms and Accessibility – Courtesy Penn State