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Cardiff-UCL STEM DBER Webinars October – December 2021

7 October 2021

Discipline-based STEM Education Research Webinars

Organiser and host: Andrea Jimenez Dalmaroni

These webinars aim to bring together an interdisciplinary community of academics and discipline-based education researchers to share results, approaches, and methods, and further support the development of evidence-based STEM education.

The webinar series is sponsored by the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

All recorded talks will be available for viewing after the seminar series.

View previous Discipline-based STEM Education Research webinars January – June 2021

Find out more about our autumn events and register:

Eleanor Sayre (Kansas State University)

‘Enabling STEM faculty to conduct education research’

13 October 4pm BST

Science education research holds the promise of excellence in both scholarship and teaching effectiveness. How can we best enable high quality research and teaching?  New researchers frequently seek more diverse training in research methods, mentoring students, and maintaining research programs; new faculty often seek guidance on how to teach better.  In this talk, I’ll outline efforts to improve undergraduate education by enabling STEM faculty to teach well and conduct education research and show how their success is predicated on an asset-based view of faculty and faculty development.

View the recording 

Tim McKay (University of Michigan)

SEISMIC: Equity and inclusion as design goals for STEM education reform

20 October 4pm BST

At large research universities, foundational courses introduce hundreds or even thousands of students to STEM disciplines every year. Development of such courses and research into their efficacy should be a shared endeavor, yet it often takes place only locally – one discipline and one campus at a time. The Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses project aims to change this. Motivated by a focus on equity and inclusion as central goals of the reform process, SEISMIC brings together more than a hundred individuals from ten institutions in a collaborative structure inspired by ‘big science’ research projects. We are working to accomplish reforms together that we have found very challenging to do alone. This talk will describe the emergence and early progress of this R&D project, including parallel data analysis, coordinated experimentation, continuous exchange of speakers, and extended annual meetings.

You might also include the link to the project’s website:

Recording will be available soon

Bryan Dewsbury (Florida International University)

Rethinking equity in the higher education classroom

3 November 4pm GMT

In this talk I revisit the foundations of education as an experience based in enlightenment. I will discuss the ways in which this ‘beyond content’ thinking can be operationalized in the classroom and show evidence for its positive impact on student academics. I will also discuss implications of these results to how we prepare future faculty and consider curriculum design particularly for STEM classrooms.

Register for this event

Andy diSessa, (University of California, Berkeley)

A robust theory of physical intuition: from instructional design to tracking learning

17 November 4pm GMT 

Over several decades of work, I and colleagues have developed a theory of intuitive knowledge and used it extensively in learning and instruction. I’ll begin with a brief history of this work, setting it in the wider field of conceptual change research. Then, in the main body of the talk, I’ll review some of the more recent work that has extended and refined the original theory, and shown fine-grained application to real-world student learning. I’ll present a case study of the theory’s use in designing instruction on thermal equilibration, and in tracking the results in a classroom, moment-by-moment. Finally, I’ll circle back to the broader landscape of conceptual change research, marking specific contrasts with other views on conceptual change, and the problems our data makes for them.

Register for this event

Amitava Babi Mitra (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Is engineering education broken? The New Engineering Education Transformation at MIT

24 November 4pm GMT

Engineering education is undergoing great change all over the world and the pandemic has accelerated that process and raised even more questions about its efficacy. MIT launched the pilot New Engineering Education Transformation (NEET) initiative in Fall 2017 to reimagine undergraduate engineering education at MIT. This session will explore the approach NEET took to prepare students to take on major engineering challenges and develop solutions to critical social problems of the 21st century and the learnings from the process of implementing transformative educational change in an established culture and institution.

Register for this event

Zahra Hazari (Florida International University)

STEP UP: Supporting Teachers to Encourage the Pursuit of Undergraduate Physics for Women

1 December 4pm GMT

In the US, nearly half of students taking physics in high school are women, but only a fifth of the students interested in physics majors in college are women.  These patterns are similar in the UK with women underrepresented amongst students who continue to study physics post-16.  Given this persistent issue, the STEP UP project ( has launched a nationwide initiative in the US to mobilize and help high school physics teachers better engage women in physics by disrupting narrow perceptions of physics and promoting supportive classroom cultures.  This talk will present some of the research evidence used by STEP UP to develop, test, and promote strategies that facilitate the physics identity development and future physics intentions of young women.  These evidence-based strategies are being used by physics educators as part of the national campaign, which has grown to include a network of five thousand physics teachers, faculty, students, and community members, to inspire a new generation of women physicists.  (Supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1720810, 1720869, 1720917, and 1721021).

Register for this event

Stacey Lowery Bretz  (Miami University)

Meaningful learning and beliefs about intelligence in the chemistry laboratory

8 December 4pm GMT

Every college student majoring in science or engineering takes multiple laboratory courses throughout their college education. While faculty cannot imagine teaching without laboratory, little evidence exists to claim that students actually engage in meaningful learning experiences in these courses. The typical role of the college laboratory in student learning has largely remained one of confirming principles presented in lecture rather than exploration and concept development. One challenge with measuring students’ learning in the laboratory is that few measurement tools specific to the context of laboratory exist. This seminar will describe the development of two such assessment tools.

Meaningful learning requires that students choose to create connections between their prior knowledge and the material to be learned. For meaningful learning to occur, students must actively integrate not only their thinking and the doing of their laboratory work, but also their feelings and beliefs. We created the Meaningful Learning in the Laboratory Instrument (MLLI) to measure students’ cognitive and affective expectations for conducting experiments in the undergraduate chemistry laboratory and to compare those expectations to their experiences. Students’ beliefs about their intelligence, known as mindset, are context dependent and have not been previously characterized in a chemistry laboratory. Mindset reflects students’ beliefs about the role of effort and ability as they contribute to success, especially in moments of confusion, uncertainty, or errors in the lab. We created the Intelligence Mindset in the Chemistry Laboratory (IMCL) instrument to measure students’ mindset. This seminar will present data from multiple research projects using the MLLI and IMCL to investigate students’ expectations for learning in the college chemistry laboratory, their experiences during these courses, and their beliefs about intelligence in the college chemistry laboratory. The implications for pedagogy and assessment within college laboratory courses will be discussed.

Register for this event 

Nick Braithwaite (Open University)

Virtually better than the real thing: remote experiments for practical skills development

15 December 4pm GMT

Driven by the context of distance learning (within the OU model of supported open learning) we have been getting to grips with the practicalities of remote experiments for several years. We are interested in their effectiveness in meeting QAA benchmarks and accreditation requirements relating to practical skills in experimental classwork and projects. We are interested therefore in their effectiveness for independent learning. We have been particularly inspired by recent examples of remote experimentation outside HE in the form of field work on Mars landings and DIY  lateral flow tests. Over the last ten years or so we have gained practical experience of using remote experiments in the curriculum, at scale. We have recognised the criticality of telecommunications and internet services and the limited scope for design and build activities. The aim is to provide students with access to real data via authentic interfaces. Our OpenSTEM Labs now enable students to plan and conduct experiments that provide each with their own data, obtained under their own control, individually or in teams. The cohort size ranges from tens to hundreds. The equipment accessed ranges from telescopes in professional observatories to analytical instruments in research laboratories. The scenarios include time-domain astronomy, collaborative planetary-surface exploration, relativistic electron dynamics, acid-base titration and FTIR spectroscopy. There are pedagogical advantages to preparing general learning resources especially for online delivery rather than retrofitting ‘online connectivity’ to conventional resources. The benefits come at a price. In much the same way, we have found there are advantages to designing remote experiments from scratch rather than automating a traditional lab. We have found the investment worthwhile, not least because our teaching labs have remained fully functional throughout the CV-19 pandemic. We are open to collaboration with others in the development and use of remotely-accessible teaching labs, to enhance the social and educational experience of students through incorporating tools for team work and ‘over-the-shoulder’ support.

Register for this event 


  1. Lorraine Waters

    This looks like an interesting list of webinars – it would, however, have been easier to select each from a list and just make one registration

  2. Jackie Bortiatynski

    This will be a great series of webinars. I am looking to forward to attending them. I direct a STEM teaching and learning center in my college and I will be sharing these with my colleagues.

  3. Sumita Mukherjee

    Thank you for sharing this. This block of webinars was highly productive and informative. All the speakers were so open when they were explaining, we actually felt connected.

Comments are closed.