The National Science Foundation recently awarded a grant of nearly $600,000 to a team of faculty at West Virginia University, including Jake Follmer from the School of Education in the College of Applied Human Sciences, for a project aimed at enhancing engineering education for students at West Virginia University.
Follmer is joined as a lead investigator on the project by Lizzie Santiago (principal investigator) and Michael Brewster (co-principal investigator), who serve as faculty members in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering.
The project's main goal is to make engineering education more accessible and effective, especially for students who may struggle with problem-solving skills necessary for success in the field. Many students initially express interest in engineering but face challenges when it comes to solving complex problems. This is particularly true for students starting engineering coursework at the college algebra, trigonometry, or pre-calculus levels.
Through the project, the team will seek to support these students by developing interventions that improve and promote their use of metacognitive and self-regulated learning skills during problem-solving. More broadly, this effort aims to address, in part, the national need for more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) professionals. The project will focus on students who are often underrepresented in STEM fields, including those who identify as first-generation and are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
The project will prioritize students who did not place into calculus in their first semester at WVU and aims to improve their academic achievement, interest in and beliefs about engineering, as well as their retention in engineering programs. The outcomes of this research will provide valuable tools to enhance STEM education and retention efforts nationwide.
The NSF's support for this project underscores its commitment to improving STEM education and reflects the project's intellectual merit and broader impacts. This grant exemplifies West Virginia University's dedication to advancing education and making STEM fields more inclusive and accessible.