6 May 2016


Submitted by Sheila Smith, University of Michigan- Dearborn


With the recent consolidation of many of NSF's STEM-focused grants under the IUSE (Improving Undergraduate STEM Education) umbrella, this year the funding agency brought many of the PIs from the various efforts (TUES, which funded the last four years of IONiC's work, GEOPaths, RCN-UBE, etc) together for a Symposium in DC. I was honored (short straw) to represent IONiC and it was inspiring to be surrounded by many like-minded scientists and educators working together to improve STEM education.  

The words at the tip of everyone's tongue were "active learning" and "student-centered". Increasing both of these has been a goal of IONiC from its inception and we've made great strides within our community. It seems scientists are the absolute worst at accepting data when that data tells them they need to change the way they teach in order to be more effective. How lucky have we, the IONiC community, been to find a community not only willing to follow in this regard but to lead?

The chance to interact with faculty who share the same commitment as IONiC made several things very clear.  

  • IONiC is at the front of the curve in sustaining change through facuty development networks.
  • The push for data collection and evidence based assessment isn't going anywhere.
  • The next generation of STEM faculty is much more willing to try new ways of doing things. 
  • The success of IONiC and VIPEr is a direct result of a vibrant and active community.

That last one's the most important, I think. It really is about "people", almost more than ideas. Thank you for your part in building this wonderful community.  

If you want to read more about the conference, and the kind of things that are high on NSF's funding priorities, the link is:


That symposium looks very interesting! I'd love to chat sometime about what you took away from it in terms of details beyond those four points.