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Center for Advancing STEM Teaching, Learning and Evaluation (CASTLE)

Overview:  The Interdisciplinary STEM Ed Research Forum (ISERF) is a collaboration of STEM education research groups across campus sharing ideas and further research goals. The Forum welcomes attendees and research presenters from all RIT colleges, schools and programs. It offers opportunities to discuss and form partnerships in education research.


Organizing Committee by College

CET:           Jeanne Christman, Mike Eastman
COS:          Ben Zwickl, Dina Newman, Scott Franklin
GCCIS:      Sharon Mason


CET:           Holly Stiner
COS:          Debra Jacobson

March 27, 2019 - Focus on Computing


October 30, 2018 - Sharing Research Funding Ideas

September 25, 2018 - Student Groups & Informal Learning Spaces

April 24, 2018 - Sharing STEM Ed Research

George Zion – College of Applied Science and Technology
Title: PLTW’s Long-Term Effects on Student Academic Success in Post-Secondary Engineering Studies
Abstract: The purpose of this causal comparative analysis was to investigate the relationship between students’ participation in Project Lead The Way’s (PLTW) pre-engineering curriculum and their subsequent academic success in post-secondary engineering studies.
The foundational goal of PLTW’s pre-engineering curriculum was to increase the number, quality, and diversity of engineers graduating from the U.S. educational system.  To date, the preponderance of the research on PLTW has examined its effects on high school students’ academic performance or their desire to further their engineering studies.  While studies such as these are important to understanding PLTW’s influence on filling the STEM pipeline, a majority of the authors of these studies recommended additional research to determine if any PLTW effects persist at the post-secondary level. While a few studies exist that examined the effects of PLTW participation on students’ first-year engineering persistence, this research was the first to examine if any effects persist longitudinally throughout their undergraduate engineering course-of-study.  Furthermore, this investigation significantly broadened the definition of academic success beyond engineering persistence to include university persistence, grade point average, and engineering graduation rate.  Additionally, this was the first study to examine if any effects of PLTW participation on post-secondary academic success are moderated by gender, ethnicity, engineering program-of-study, or level of PLTW participation.

Adrienne Decker – Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences

Title: Computing Students: How do we get them?  How do we keep them?
Abstract: The CRA report Generation CS ( illustrates the recent history of increased enrollment in computing disciplines and courses.  The report points out that this growth started around 2006 and has far outpaced the previous dot-com boom of the late 1990’s.  However, in between these two peaks in the graph was a valley.  During that time, and continuing until today, many computing educators were interested in growing participation in computing and they created a large number of programs to introduce computing to students, particularly at the pre-college (K-12) level.  My recent work has been to investigate what we know about the effects of such programs and interventions on the participants.  During that work, we have uncovered that there is a gap in the literature about long-term impacts of these interventions.  Currently, we are in the middle of a 5-year NSF funded project (Nos. 1625005 and 1625335) to better understand these impacts and to improve the practice of the community to better track impacts longitudinally.Regardless of the impacts of the efforts mentioned previously, something in the landscape has clearly changed. More and more people are coming to computing, seeing potentially as a skill to have or as a major to pursue.  The second part of my talk will involve my other work (NSF Grant Nos. 1712025 and 1712231) that investigates a specific pedagogical technique (subgoal labels) as a mechanism for promoting better understanding and learning of introductory computing concepts.  One of the biggest challenges of the computing education community is figuring out pedagogical techniques that work across large numbers of students with differing levels of ability, all while teaching a subject that is not quite like any of the other subjects.  Looking toward educational psychology, we seek to adapt proven techniques (like subgoal labeling) to the computing classroom.


Mel Chua – National Technical Institute for the Deaf

Title: Technology, Engineering, Computing, and Hacker/Maker Curricular Cultures: Alternative Universe Edition

Abstract: What is engineering? Who is a maker? What does it mean to be a technology professor? Questions like these point at the underlying ontologies of a group’s curricular culture, or their shared basic assumptions regarding teaching and learning, including how one should act, think, and feel in educational situations. My work engages with curricular cultures in postsecondary TECH (Technology, Engineering, Computing, and Hacker/Maker) education, a.k.a. “the making of people who make things.” One aspect of this work is, quite literally, world-building and alternative universe creation. By bricolaging technical work with narrative interviews, ethnographic observations, science fiction, and the visual and performing arts, I create… not science fiction stories, but engineering (tech, computing, and hacking/making) education fiction -- or rather, things that start as engineering fiction, as well as tools for making them into engineering nonfiction. In this talk, I’ll discuss the prototyping of alternate TECH education universes and cultures with two case studies: (1) what if computer science college courses were modeled after hacker/maker community praxis? and (2) what if engineering education had been historically led by Deaf people, and hearing engineers were a minority? As with most cross-cultural encounters, seeing other possibilities for TECH cultures helps make us aware of the assumptions we’ve embedded in the discipline thus far, so we can decide what worlds we want to build going forward.




February 6, 2018 Forum Kickoff