Community College Research Initiatives

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education is important for our country’s future as it provides jobs, solutions to major problems, and an understanding of the natural world. The CCRI research group does research and evaluation on STEM in the postsecondary context and brings to that research an equity lens.


Connecting learning about the earth to societal issues: Downstream effects on faculty teaching

March 2020

This chapter describes InTeGrate, a national sustainability curricular development program, and the influence of the program on instructors who created the curriculum as well as those who utilized the InTeGrate curriculum in their courses.


Using research and collaboration to improve STEM education

February 2020
How can STEM teachers support students’ disciplinary engagement in project-based learning? Earlier this year, co-authors Susan Nolan, Lia Wetzstein and Alexandra Goodell published the article Designing Material Tools to Mediate Disciplinary Engagement in Environmental Science in the journal Cognition and Instruction,38(2), 1-45. This article describes how teachers and researchers collaborated to address problems of balancing disciplinary authenticity with the realities of teaching in poverty-impacted high schools.

A project-based environmental science curriculum can help students learn to use environmental science skills and practices. How can teachers support authentic engagement in these projects? These researchers worked with teachers to develop tools and iteratively improve them to facilitate disciplinary engagement. Their research led to design principles for developing effective tools to support authentic science engagement.

Feel welcome to request a complimentary copy of the Version of Record manuscript by reaching out to Lia Wetzstein, Alternatively, you may view the postprint version.


Data Note 1: Underserved community college students and the complexity of STEM transfer

December 2019

This research helps community colleges and interested parties understand student transfer pathways and how to best implement programs that actually help underserved students of color, women, and first-generation students succeed in STEM.

National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) Landscape Study

This study aims to leverage statewide longitudinal data to improve technical education pathways. Phase one in a three-year landscape study has begun for the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (NSF ATE) programs funded in Washington in the last ten years. Our team, consisting of University of Washington researchers, and faculty and administrators from Seattle Central College, Green River College, and Skagit Valley College are working to understand the current use and need for student-level outcomes data in technical programs. This phase of our research will inform phase two, where we work to be the connective tissue that gets relevant data in the hands of technical program faculty. The first advisory committee meeting will be held on January 8, 2020, at the University of Washington.  The meeting will provide an overview of the project from the UW team, college co-PIs, and partners and gather input on key aspects of the research plan. Read more in the program brochure.


InTeGrate Faculty Study

InTeGrate is a STEP (STEM Talent Expansion Program) Center grant funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) led by the Science Education Research Center (SERC) at Carleton College. A primary goal of InTeGrate is to engage faculty in improving STEM education.

CCRI’s evaluation study focused on the impact of different types of participation in InTeGrate (Material Developers, Implementers, and Webinar and Workshops) on faculty pedagogy, courses, the creation teaching communities and more. CCRI researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with 51 faculty and some of the results include findings that InTeGrate helped faculty teach diverse learners, build faculty communities, and shift towards more interdisciplinary curriculum and pedagogy. The researchers used stories to show how faculty benefited from the InTeGrate program.

Read the full report and view individual faculty stories below.

View the full report

InTeGrate Faculty Stories

Accommodating Diverse Learners and Building Supportive Communities

One instructor increased class examples representing non-dominant populations and gained understanding of how to use multiple types of learning activities beyond lecture.

Facilitating Real-World Examples and Interdisciplinary Collaborations

Another instructor created more course content that contains real-world scientific problems and data. She also shared how the program fit well with her existing approach to collaborative teaching pedagogy.

Facilitating Pedagogical Changes

The instructor in this story participated in professional development in Earth Science Education to learn more about pedagogy for online teaching. In addition, she used InTeGrate to connect with a larger group of educators.

Visit the SERC website for more faculty stories and information about the study.

LSAMP Planning Grant Facilitation and Evaluation

CCRI is serving as an external facilitator and evaluator on an LSAMP Pre-Alliance Planning grant. Working with the planning team and the project’s PI and Co-PIs, we are providing structure and accountability to the planning process of a 3-college alliance grant. The group is writing a LSAMP Bridge 2 Baccalaureate (B2B) Alliance grant to improve STEM experience for underrepresented students through undergraduate research opportunities. Our work includes regular meetings with PIs and the planning team, site visits, and facilitation of a one-day workshop to move planning and writing of the LSAMP B2B grant forward.