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Montgomery College Among 20 Institutions Chosen Nationally to Participate in “Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM” Initiative Grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust to AAC&U Will Support Faculty and Curriculum Development at Chosen Institutions

Montgomery College has been awarded $299,980 by The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) for a three-year program to support curriculum and faculty development that will improve the success of women and under-represented minority students in its computer science degree program.

The College was one of 20 educational institutions nationwide—and the only community college—to be selected for the AAC&U initiative called TIDES—Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM. Projects at these campuses will focus on the development of models for broader institutional change for the advancement of evidence-based and culturally competent teaching in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), particularly in the computer and information science domains.

The TIDES initiative is funded with a $4.9 million grant to AAC&U from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Montgomery College is a leader in STEM education, experiencing significant enrollment growth in STEM programs over the past several years due to the growing industry demand in the region, strong faculty expertise in STEM disciplines, and state-of-the-art science centers.

The following criteria were used for selection of the 20 TIDES schools:

  • High level of institutional readiness;
  • Demonstrated commitment to sustaining project activities;
  • Targeted focus on increasing the number of women and underrepresented minorities in the undergraduate computer/information science disciplines; and
  • Innovation in linking computer/information sciences with other STEM and non-STEM courses.

“The TIDES initiative is an exciting opportunity for Montgomery College to expand on its longstanding commitments to research-based teaching strategies, meeting the needs of diverse students, and building a strong workforce for the region’s research labs and science and technology companies,” said Dr. DeRionne Pollard, Montgomery College president. “We are delighted to be part of this vital initiative, and we greatly appreciate the grant support from The Association of American Colleges and Universities and The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.”

The grant will have an immediate impact on Montgomery College students and faculty. Some of the highlights include:

  • The grant will enable Montgomery College’s computer science program to accomplish three primary activities: 1) Pair an introductory computer science course (Introduction to Programming) into learning communities with a math course and a course for English Language Learners to enhance student success; 2) involve computer science students in undergraduate research with a Montgomery College faculty member; and 3) Evaluate and redesign classroom activities so they better meet the learning styles of women and students from groups that are under-represented in the computer science field.
  • The project will utilize strategies from research that shows that women and students from under-represented minority groups in STEM benefit both from individualized mentoring and from coursework featuring hands-on activities and real-world applications. Currently, the College’s computer science majors are approximately 35 percent female and 55 percent from under-represented minority groups. The project plans to increase the representation of women and under-represented minority students in this program by at least five percent during the next three years.
  • This project will involve student learning assistants in the classroom; matching computer science students to faculty mentors for academic and career advising; and participation in STEM Xpress orientation, information and internship workshops.
  • One learning community pairs an introductory programming course with an American English Language Program course, enabling students to build on their technical skills while strengthening their speaking and writing abilities.
  • The second learning community enables students to learn Calculus and computer programming in a classroom setting where classroom activities reinforce both sets of skills.
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