The University of Arizona is one of only eight universities in the nation that was awarded a grant from the Association of American Universities (AAU)


to improve undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The UA AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Project has three primary goals: 1.) Redesign courses in five disciplines to include more evidence-based strategies, 2.) Shift the culture at UA toward greater emphasis on collaborative active-learning pedagogies, and 3.) Explore and develop Collaborative Learning Spaces (CLS).

Transforming Undergraduate STEM Education

The UA AAU STEM Education Project provided thousands of science and engineering majors at the University of Arizona with solid understanding in core STEM disciplines. Thus, the project started with redesigning three foundational science courses (general chemistry, introductory biology, and introductory physics/mechanics) and two introductory engineering courses (elements of chemical engineering II and computer programming for engineering applications). The course redesign entailed using student-centered and active learning pedagogy to enhance discipline knowledge and conceptual understandings. Three common themes that cut across all redesign efforts included:

  1. promotion of information and quantitative literacy,
  2. use of real-life applications in problem solving, and
  3. use of models to develop conceptual understanding.

The topics covered in the courses were critically examined to emphasize core disciplinary ideas, problem-solving abilities, critical thinking, and teamwork, to ensure that students were provided with a solid foundational understanding.

Principal Investigators

Gail D. Burd, Ph.D. Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Teaching & Learning
Vicente Talanquer, Ph.D. University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Lisa Elfring, Ph.D. Assistant Vice Provost for Instruction & Assessment
Deb Tomanek, Ph.D. Professor Emerita of Molecular & Cellular Biology

News & Videos about the UA AAU STEM Project

2016 | STEM Programs Prepare Undergraduates for Careers in the Real World

2015 | Implementing an AAU STEM Initiative at The University of Arizona Learning Spaces Collaboratory Webinar

2014 | Redesigned Chemistry Course Influencing Future of STEM Education

2014 | Teaching Students How to Think

2014 | UA Paves Way to Redefine STEM Education

2013 | UA One of Only Eight Institutions Selected for Nationwide STEM Initiative

2013 | UA One of Only Eight Institutions Selected for Nationwide STEM Initiative