The Virgin Islands Institute for
STEM Education Research and Practice
The Virgin Islands Institute for STEM Education Research and Practice (VI-ISERP)is a vibrant intellectual hub that fosters strategic alliances for research, networking, and innovation in STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics) education in the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean.
VI-ISERP is a STEM community dedicated to developing and implementing research-based best practices in teacher preparation and training, student learning, and workforce development in STEM fields through collaboration among university faculty, K-12 educators, government agencies and industry.
VI-EPSCoR and VI-ISERP in Collaboration
VI-EPSCoR's workforce development area is dedicated to supporting VI-ISERP and its mission. The Institute fosters a cohesive research-based strategy for continued improvement in STEM education in the Territory. The long-term goal of the workforce development area is to improve the quantitative and scientific skills in the USVI workforce to strengthen economic competitiveness in STEM fields. The short-term goal is to significantly improve STEM education in the Territory at the 6-12 and University levels. Improved STEM education leads to a workforce that is better prepared to train for and work in STEM related careers. VI-ISERP provides a collaborative infrastructure for STEM research.
Areas of Focus
The vulnerability of the USVI is tied to the tremendous need to develop a large, diverse, highly qualified scientific workforce. VI-ISERP coordinates workforce development efforts focusing on STEM Education at the University level and in the Territorial middle and high schools. The strategy outlined to accomplish these goals are detailed below.
Transformation of 6-12 STEM Education in the Territory. VI-ISERP supports the VI Department of Education (VIDoE) in its efforts to implement Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into the curriculum of all ten middle and high schools in the Territory. At the heart of this effort is the Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) which support research based pedagogical approaches and techniques emphasizing inquiry-based learning in support of NGSS and CCSS. This is realized through Summer Institutes, academic year activities and research experiences for in-service teachers. Local STEM experts support teachers as PLCs serve as a platform for reflection on practices.
Development of additional STEM education pathways at UVI. The MMES and MMAT graduate programs are evaluated by VI-ISERP Directors and post-graduate training needs are determined. Additionally, the Institute facilitates the establishment of undergraduate certification paths (STEM minor) for STEM teaching.
Further to the curricular changed presented here, a training program is in place to increase the expertise of people engaged in fisheries research in the USVI. In collaboration with the VI Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) and CMES, a Cooperative Fisheries Research Lab will be developed. This lab will provide opportunities for more in-house research and consolidated management and dissemination of data. Ongoing collaboration between these entities will support the Territory's capacity for fisheries data collection.
Integration of research into the undergraduate STEM curriculum at UVI. VI-ISERP strives to facilitate integration of authentic research and active learning in the undergraduate STEM curriculum at UVI. Researchers and faculty work together to bring specific research projects into the curriculum. Successful programs are used as models to implement research-based course and modules. Well-designed assessment plans measure students' abilities to think scientifically, formulate hypotheses and design experiments. Introductory Chemistry labs will be used as the focus for this work.
Mentoring training. All faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students involved in VI-EPSCoR funded mentoring will complete mentor training annually.
STEM Education research. UVI faculty and their collaborators are funded as they implement education research. This research is infused with VI-EPSCoR related research on coral reef demography, disease and diversity. University scientists working in these areas are active participants in these projects.