Professors awarded NSF STEM education grant

Contact: Catherine R. Caldwell

NSF-funded research will improve students’ scientific literacy and quantitative reasoning.

The Office for Grants and Strategic Initiatives is excited to announce that Associate Professor Courtney Stevens and Professor Melissa Witkow in the Department of Psychology have been awarded a three-year, $299,942 grant entitled “Promoting Graphical Literacy Skills at Two and Four Year Colleges through Virtual Tutoring” from the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program.

This grant will enable Professors Stevens and Witkow to continue a line of research focused on improving the training of scientific reasoning skills in college students. Investigators will develop and evaluate a virtual tutoring system to improve students’ graphical literacy, or the ability to read and interpret common statistical graphs used in STEM fields and news reports. Several versions of the tutoring system will be tested, each based on competing theories of how individuals learn, to evaluate the most effective method or methods for different students. At the end of the project, the most effective virtual tutoring system(s) will be freely disseminated to pedagogical websites and pre-college access programs. The project will also provide research internship opportunities for Willamette undergraduate students during the three-year timeframe.

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