Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Science
The Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Science (TIDES) in the College of Natural Sciences aims to catalyze, support, and showcase innovative, evidence-based undergraduate science education. TIDES was proposed in the CNS 2013 Strategic Plan (as the Texas Center for Science Discovery) as a way to continue and enhance the college's leading role in STEM education. With advisement from a cross-disciplinary group of faculty known for both their scientific and teaching accomplishments, TIDES is taking a three-pronged approach to achieve this mission: student programs, faculty programs, and education research and evaluation.
For Students: TIDES is fostering student programs that focus on experiential and engaged learning. The Institute's exemplar program, the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) matches 800+ students with their desired research projects each year. During spring semester, these students work with faculty principal investigators and postdoctoral-level research educators to do cutting-edge science, mathematics, and computing ? from discovering antibiotics to securing computer systems to understanding processes at work in stars. In order to expand research offerings to many more transfer and upper division students, TIDES has established a sister program to FRI, called the Accelerated Research Initiative. FRI and ARI students can showcase their work at the Undergraduate Research Forum and can continue research in the summer with support from introductory or advanced fellowships. TIDES is also conducting a landscape assessment as part of a plan to provide more industry and entrepreneurial learning opportunities for students.
For Current and Future Faculty: TIDES offers teaching development programs for current and future science and mathematics faculty. TIDES has developed a plan for a mentored teaching program for postdoctoral associates, which is now under consideration for extramural funding. TIDES hosts a monthly scientific teaching workshop series, and summer scientific teaching institutes for current and incoming faculty. TIDES is providing national-level leadership on research teaching by hosting working meetings of national groups of educators who are replicating FRI-like programs and developing their own research courses through which students learn to think like scientists and make contributions that have impact outside the classroom. These teaching development programs will be complemented by a teaching resources portal (under development), which will feature effective teaching strategies accompanied how-to advice and data showing efficacy.
Education Research and Evaluation: Systematically collecting and analyzing data to know what students are learning is a critical element of excellent teaching. TIDES staff work with CNS faculty to examine their students' learning, test new teaching strategies, and identify the right assessment tools. TIDES staff also consult and collaborate on evaluating the efficacy and impact of undergraduate, graduate, or postdoctoral STEM education programs. TIDES education research staff conduct internally and externally funded studies of science teaching and learning in higher education. The following are active areas of investigation in TIDES:
- Undergraduate outcomes of participating in research courses
- Mentoring of undergraduate life science researchers
- Undergraduate access to science research opportunities
- Undergraduate attitudes toward quantitative disciplines
TIDES is also conducting several education studies aimed at documenting the impacts of CNS undergraduate programs and understanding the causal mechanisms underlying effective programs, such as the FRI.