Three CUNY Colleges Win National Science Foundation Awards To Support Science, Math and Engineering Education

September 22, 1997 | The University

Three City University of New York colleges have won a total of $600,000 from the National Science Foundation to support reform of undergraduate education, focusing on improving science, mathematics and engineering education. Brooklyn College, City College and New York City Technical College were among only 19 colleges and universities in the United States to receive $200,000 grants in the second year of NSF’s Institution-Wide Reform of Undergraduate Education initiative.

Brooklyn College’s award-winning project is for “Quantitative Reasoning Across a Core Curriculum.” Building on resent successful math/science programs for majors in teacher education and in the sciences, the goal is to develop quantitative reasoning skills among all undergraduates. Brooklyn College’s nationally-recognized 10-course Core Curriculum requires every student to complete four semesters of laboratory science in addition to mathematics and computer science.

However, many students found it difficult to transfer quantitative concepts from disciplines as diverse as physical sciences, linguistics, and economics. The solution that Physics Professor and Department Chair Peter M. Lesser, senior author of the grant proposal, developed is an “across the curriculum” project in which quantitative concepts are systematically linked through core courses in mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences. Co-authors are Dean of Graduate Studies and Research Louise Hainline and Myra Kogan, Director of the Learning Center. Member of the faculty have been meeting throughout the summer to develop lesson plans that use and encourage quantitative reasoning skills. Peer tutoring will provide an essential academic support network. This fall’s incoming class will be the first to benefit from the new initiative.

City College, which houses CUNY’s only School of Engineering, won recognition for a far-reaching faculty development and training effort that will strengthen the undergraduate education of science and engineering students. The program will increase support of innovative teaching; offer formal faculty training in curriculum design, assessment, uses of technology and other topics; establish a faculty-to-faculty mentoring and support system and set up cross-disciplinary curriculum development teams. Among the project’s goals are to define a college-wide plan for science, engineering and mathematics (SEM) curriculum reform; develop an active SEM faculty teaching caucus; establish a faculty resource center, the Center for Teaching and Learning; and provide a model for science, engineering and mathematics education that can be replicated at other institutions.

Building on its successes as a partner in CUNY’s Alliance for Minority Participation and as a principal in the New York City Urban System Initiative, New York City Technical College’s project will help students better understanding the connections between mathematics and science. The project team, including math, science and engineering technology faculty, will investigate ways to restructure the math and science core courses to strengthen connections among these disciplines; identify more effective teaching strategies; and create a database of common concepts. Dr. Louise Squitieri, Dean of Funded Programs in Science, Mathematics and Technology, is the principal investigator for the Reform in Science, Math, and Engineering Technology Education project. Other members of the team include Mathematics Professor Arna Taraporevala, Biology Professor Dennis Bakewicz, Chemistry Professor Tony Nicolas, Physics Professor Asraf Mongroo, and Engineering Technology Professor Seymour Blank. Dr. Annette E. Schaefer, Professor of Physics and Biological Sciences at New York City Technical College, is project director.