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Press Room

For Immediate Release

Debra Humphreys, Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs
E-mails preferred during AAC&U's Annual Meeting, Jan. 25-28, 2012

W.M. Keck Foundation Grant to Project Kaleidoscope Will Support Development of New Framework for Institutional Effectiveness in STEM Learning

Washington, DC–January 24, 2012–Project Kaleidoscope and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) announced today a new initiative to develop a comprehensive institutional STEM Effectiveness Framework to help campus leaders translate national recommendations for raising STEM achievement into scalable and sustainable actions that improve STEM learning and success for all students.  Funded by the W.M. Keck Foundation, the project will engage up to twelve colleges and universities in California to test evidence-based strategies that will lead to program, departmental, and, eventually, institutional transformation.

The project builds on twenty years of STEM reform efforts and responds to multiple reports recommending pervasive changes in curricula and teaching strategies in STEM.  It will develop a new framework through which colleges, community colleges, and universities can evaluate their effectiveness in creating more learner-centered campus cultures for STEM teaching and learning.  The project will pay specific attention to institutional data that can be used to evaluate student success benchmarks, such as student experiences, and rates of transfer, retention, and completion.

“This project will allow us to bring together a diverse set of institutions in California to focus and amplify their efforts to improve student learning and success in STEM,” said Project Kaleidoscope Executive Director Susan Elrod. “Collectively, we will be able to leverage the expertise of these leaders to create a tool for campus-level action that is currently lacking.”

The Framework will include two major components:

  • An institutional readiness audit that will consist of key questions and metrics that campus leaders should address when working to improve STEM learning and success.
  • A rubric with benchmarking tools to evaluate educational effectiveness in STEM courses and programs.

“Educational leaders and practitioners—all across AAC&U’s member campuses and throughout PKAL’s growing networks—are seeking practical ways to move from theory to action and improve student achievement of STEM learning outcomes,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.  “We are very pleased that this initiative will generate tools that any campus can use to evaluate and improve student engagement in STEM inquiry, analysis, and research.  High achievement in STEM fields is important for economic development and for democracy.  This initiative will help PKAL expand its stellar existing set of resources for STEM learning improvement.”

The four-year project will involve selected teams of faculty, administrators, and assessment experts. The following institutions and organizations have confirmed participation in the project:

  • California State University, East Bay
  • California State University, Fullerton
  • San Diego State University
  • San Francisco State University
  • W.M. Keck Science Department of Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges
  • University of San Diego
  • University of La Verne
  • The California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB)

This initiative builds on previous grants from the W.M. Keck Foundation, such as the Keck-PKAL “Facilitating Interdisciplinary Learning” initiative that resulted in recommendations and a guide for campus leaders to more systematically build and sustain interdisciplinary programs in STEM disciplines. 

About PKAL

Since its founding in 1989, Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) has been one of the leading advocates in the United States for building and sustaining strong undergraduate programs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). With an extensive network of nearly 7,000 faculty members and administrators at over 1,000 colleges, universities and organizations, PKAL has developed far-reaching influence in shaping undergraduate STEM learning environments that attract and retain undergraduate students.

PKAL accomplishes its work by engaging campus faculty and leaders in funded projects, national and regional meetings, community-building activities, leadership development programs, and publications that are focused on advancing what works in STEM education. PKAL is now an ongoing unit within the Association of American Colleges and Universities.  For more information on PKAL, see:           

About AAC&U

AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises more than 1,200 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, and universities of every type and size.

AAC&U functions as a catalyst and facilitator, forging links among presidents, administrators, and faculty members who are engaged in institutional and curricular planning. Its mission is to reinforce the collective commitment to liberal education at both the national and local levels and to help individual institutions keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges.

Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at