FIREUP: Faculty Integration, Research, and Engagement in Urban Polynesia

Kapiolani Community College, University of Hawaii, benefits greatly from two National Science Foundation grants funded by the Directorate for Education and Human Resources. Since fall 2005, the College has witnessed a substantial increase in STEM student enrollment: Some 285 students, 185 of whom are Native Hawaiian, are being advised about STEM degree pathways, enrolled in STEM transfer courses, and taking advantage of peer mentoring, recitation, and undergraduate research opportunities in the College’s STEM Learning Center, built with $1.6 in USDE Title III funds in 2006-07.

Recognizing that our continued success is contingent upon building a formal and institutionalized “STEM enterprise” and developing more engaged STEM faculty who can offer compelling courses as well as mentor students in undergraduate research, the College proposes to create the organizational, administrative and programmatic excellence and infrastructure needed to support such an enterprise. Our long-term goals, therefore, are to: 1) institutionalize, improve and sustain a formal STEM enterprise; and 2) increase the number of STEM faculty engaged in producing more Native Hawaiian and other STEM degree completers. This I3 project will integrate faculty innovation within a formal, sustained, always improving STEM Program tied closely to the strategic and long range directions of the College.

Intellectual Merit: The proposed activities are designed to increase synergy across NSF-funded projects, and expand, deepen, and sustain their impact at Kapiolani, an urban community college with student populations underserved in STEM research and education. Faculty development activities are derived from comprehensive literature research on effective STEM pedagogies, site visits to best practice campuses, and participation in Quality Education for Minorities and NSF-SENCER. The College integrates potentially transformative undergraduate research into Engineering, Ecology, Biotechnology, and Human Physiology transfer pathways and will assess student learning using methodologies adapted from participation in two national eportfolio research coalitions. The College also provides national leadership, in collaboration with ACE and the Carnegie Foundation, on strategies to move innovation from the margin to the mainstream of institutional purpose and function. The project team has an excellent performance recordin prior work and strong institutional funding and in-kind support.

Broader Impacts: The College is situated at the nexus of STEM education in Hawaii’s public schools and STEM research at the UH Manoa and Hilo campuses. Partnering with the six other UH community colleges, State departments responsible for public education and economic development, and private sector investors, the College is preparing underserved students for STEM careers in a globally competitive economy. As an active partner in Hawaii EPSCoR, the College links its 4 degree pathways with Hawaii EPSCoR’s three focal areas to prepare students for future research careers. Proposed activities strengthen existing partnership and build Hawaii’s statewide infrastructure for education and research. The project has a strong evaluation and dissemination plan, building on growing STEM partnerships with State departments, UH campuses, LSAMP institutions in the American-affiliated Pacific, and national organizations. Proposed activities will advance Hawaii’s ability to diversify it economy and sustain its Oceanic environment.