Georgia Gwinnett College receives grant to research diversity and inclusiveness in STEM classrooms

Teacher and student in lab

Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) will join with 103 higher education institutions nationwide that will research initiatives to advance diversity and inclusiveness practices in STEM education.

Funded by a six-year $60m grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Inclusive Excellence 3 (IE3) initiative, the institutional teams have been organized into seven “learning community clusters,” (LCC) with each tackling one of the below challenges:
•    Make the content of the introductory science experience more inclusive.
•    Evaluate effective inclusive teaching and use the evaluation in the rewards system including faculty promotion and tenure.
•    Create genuine partnerships between two- and four-year colleges and universities so that transfer students have a more inclusive experience.

GGC will use its portion of the grant – nearly $500,000 – to investigate the impact of inclusive teaching practices and meaningful evaluation of these practices, towards increasing student retention. 

“Our research will focus on GGC’s School of Science & Technology as a campus model for inclusive excellence”, said Dr. Allison D’Costa, GGC biology professor and principal investigator of the college’s IE3 grant. “We will offer faculty professional development and training on inclusive teaching practices, identify tools that measure and evaluate effective and inclusive teaching, and finally rewrite policies to reward those faculty that make these changes.  

D’Costa said she and her colleagues will draw upon the “experience, expertise and creativity” of faculty at the 15 institutions in their LCC as they explore what it takes to build capacity for inclusion at each of our institutions.

“For faculty to value inclusive teaching, we must first focus on training faculty and administrators,” D’Costa said. “We also plan to create departmental faculty learning communities who will conduct research on various projects. Findings from these research projects will be shared with the LCC, as well with our campus community.”

Along with D’Costa, faculty working on the project include biology faculty, Dr. Cindy Achat-Mendes, Dr. Latanya Hammonds-Odie, Dr. Clay Runck and IT faculty, Dr. Sonal Dekhane. Dr. Jann L. Joseph, GGC’s president, will help the team liaise with campus partners.

“GGC fully supports the efforts of the research team,” said Joseph. “The team’s efforts to build upon our current institutional efforts and high-impact approaches to foster diversity, equity and inclusion in all living and learning spaces is commendable and we will provide assistance as needed for the project’s successful implementation.”

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