The Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Campus Grant supports five educational programs at Yale, with the overarching mission to promote STEM persistence and diversity through courses and curriculum targeted at 1st- and 2nd-year undergraduates.
The Campus Grant is composed of the following five STEM education programs:
- Foundations of Biology (BIOL 101-104): Introductory biology was revamped in 2013 with a focus on “depth not breadth” and building foundational scientific skills in students. These scientific skills include knowledge of scientific concepts, experimental approaches, data interpretation, scientific writing, literature review, and experimental design. The course sequence includes four, quarter-long modules covering the topics of biochemistry (101), cell biology (102), genetics and developmental biology (103), and ecology and evolution (104). Each module is run twice per year, once in the Fall and once in the Spring. The sequence also has graduate student Teaching Fellows that run discussion sections and an optional “enrichment” course run by course coordinators for students who self-select as being underprepared. The biology sequence functions as a gateway to all of the majors in the biological sciences at Yale (this now includes the new Neuroscience major) and is required for pre-med students (majoring in either science or not).
- Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs): CUREs are an innovative type of undergraduate lab experience. These courses are targeted at 1st- and 2nd-year undergraduates, with the goal of involving students early in authentic, hands-on research. From the literature, we know that early lab experiences are especially important for recruiting and retaining underrepresented groups in STEM. CUREs differ from traditional lab courses given their non-prescriptive experimental design, which often allows for students to generate and test their own research questions. This enhances students’ feelings of ownership of the research project, and hopefully also their feelings of identifying as a scientist. During the 2016-17 school year, one CURE course was run titled “Virus Discovery & Evolution,” in which students discovered and characterized novel bacteriophages. Two new CURE courses ran during the 2017-18 school year: “Discovery and Design in Biomedical Research,” an interdisciplinary course about designing tissue-engineered grafts, and “Hormones and Behavior,” a biological anthropology course.
*Check out recent Yale Daily News articles about CUREs and STEM at Yale:
- Summer Research for All: Summer Research for All has been highly successful in facilitating positive, authentic research experiences for students at Yale. Students submit applications for this program in coordination with a sponsoring lab and mentor of their choosing. Based on program evaluation data, we find that this experience is especially good at teaching students about data analysis, control variables, and experimental design. Lab time is supplemented by workshops led by graduate students on such topics as responsible conduct in research, communicating research, and future academic and career plans. Students may also attend an optional journal club (led by one of the program coordinators). At the end of the program, the vast majority of students are interested in continuing work in their current lab and many plan to attend graduate school and become research scientists.
- Freshmen Scholars at Yale (FSY): Freshmen Scholars at Yale (FSY) is a bridge program for low income, largely first-generation college students from underrepresented minority groups. It provides social support and math/writing assistance to incoming Yale 1st-years over the summer before they start at Yale. FSY helps students get acquainted with Yale, both academically as well as learning about the university’s resources. The math component is funded by the HHMI grant and currently features use of the ALEKS online math assessment and tutoring program. The writing component, which affords students an English credit for Yale, along with other program components, are supported by an external donor. Students also participate in FSY-organized social activities, including field trips and other events.
- Math 110/111: Math 110/111 is a for-credit calculus bridge class funded by Yale. The class has two small sections, each with about 20 students, and has as a goal to prepare students for Math 115 and other advanced STEM courses that require a good foundation in math. (This course is an alternative to Math 112, providing better support for underprepared students.) Central to the class is a “Learning Assistant” (LA) program funded by the HHMI grant. LAs are undergraduate students who attend class and help facilitate group work, hold approximately 14 office hours per week (across all LAs), and run small group workshops each week on more complicated problem sets for groups of 4-5 students.
STEM-PERL continues to support the HHMI grant programs through providing evaluation planning and execution through evaluation/program staff, grant management through the program manager, and events for building the Yale STEM community (such as the STEM Teaching Showcase).