North-Central Section - 50th Annual Meeting - 2016

Paper No. 37-4
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


HEAD, Elisabet, ACIOLI, Paulo, SRINIVAS, Sudha, NICHOLSON, Ken, HIBDON, Joseph, TRANA, Rachel, SZTAINBERG, Marcelo and FILUS, Lidia, Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 North St. Louis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625,

Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), a Hispanic-Serving Institution located in Chicago, was awarded an NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education grant (PEERS) to engage students, enhance learning, and improve retention within NEIU STEM programs. PEERS is a multidisciplinary initiative to integrate research projects into entry-level courses in Chemistry, Earth Science, Physics, Mathematics, and Computer Science. Research modules within these courses are open-ended, inquiry-based, and create an awareness of cross-disciplinary connections. An important aspect of PEERS is the peer-led component, which allows upperclasspersons to act as mentors, guiding the introductory students through discussions, activities, and research. Peer leaders are chosen from an intermediate to upper-level cohort, and are trained through a newly designed, multidisciplinary workshop course where they receive Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) training and background on research modules from each department. In Physical Geology, research modules revolve around volcanology, seismology, and hazards, drawing on concepts from mathematics, computer science, physics, and chemistry. The results of the PEERS project are relevant to other urban institutions with a large percentage of students with financial and other impediments to timely graduation. Course modifications within the various disciplines mentioned above, and an assessment of learning gains for each course will be presented.