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New UT-Based National Institute Explores Evaluation Science

A new national institute has been established at UT to provide independent evaluations of research and education programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The National Institute for STEM Evaluation and Research (NISER) will provide evaluation services to academia, government, and the nonprofit sector and will also generate new knowledge about the ways in which integrated STEM programs function successfully.

The institute began as a pilot program in 2015 at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), based at UT. It has since grown to collaborate with more than 30 departments in 14 higher education institutions in the United States on the submission of more than 50 grant proposals. Many of the proposals were developed with departments at UT including chemistry, microbiology, ecology and evolutionary biology, biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, teacher education, materials science and engineering. Additionally, it has taken the lead in designing interdisciplinary evaluation instruments and developing evaluation workshops.

NISER is currently collaborating on nine proposals that have secured nearly $6.8 million in funding. Many of the projects focus on improving postsecondary STEM education, including curriculum improvement, student recruitment and retention, and faculty education. A particular focus has been expanding the inclusion of underrepresented students in STEM education.

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