San Diego State University

Organization Description

San Diego State University is one of the nation's premier urban research universities actively engaged in preparing graduates who will make an impact on the San Diego region and beyond. San Diego State University is an academically rich, urban university that provides endless possibilities for students. SDSU offers bachelor's degrees in 81 areas, master's degrees in 72, one educational specialist degree (Ed.S.), research doctorates (Ph.D./Ed.D.) in 14 areas, and one professional doctorate (Au.D.). San Diego State University has an enrollment of nearly 34,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

Participant Biographies

Dr. Janet Bowers

I am an associate professor of mathematics education at SDSU. I am also the director of the SDSU Math Learning Center that opened in Fall, 2015. We are still going through “growing pains” such as defining our target audience, meeting student demand, and determining optimal staffing and tutor training procedures. But I have experienced a lot of satisfaction in setting up a center that is truly needed and helpful to so many STEM majors. One of my goals in working with this grant is to learn how other institutions run their learning centers. The other team members from SDSU are Usha Sinha, the chair of the physics department, Matt Anderson, an innovative physics educator who is also the creator of the “Learning Glass”, and Joe Mahaffy, who has developed and taught on technology-based calculus for life sciences class.

I became interested in this kind of work about five years ago when I first taught calculus and started designing small intervention projects. At that time, the administration shared with me their concern with bottleneck courses and high DFW rates. More recently, our math department has undertaken efforts to rethink how we teach many courses. The administration is completely behind us (but wants to see immediate results), and the chair is spearheading all of the efforts. We also have Chris Rasmussen who was a Co-PI on an NSF grant that analyzed the practices of 5 successful calculus programs. He has been instrumental in bringing in speakers, organizing workshops, and generally leading the reform efforts.

Free time? I honestly don't have much but I enjoy rollerblading, yoga, hiking, and watching my son play football, . Kinda sounds like a match.com entry!

Dr. Antoni Luque

My first teaching experience was as a tutor in an after school academy. I started in my freshmen year as an undergraduate. In the first two years, I tutored high-school students. As I progressed in my degree, I started tutoring also STEM undergraduates. The sessions were usually one-to- one or in small groups (up to six students). In general, I would not know in advance what the students would need, and I had to learn how to think quick in each session to respond to the student demands. I did not receive much training, but dealing in each session with one or a few students helped me realize the diversity in learning strategies and attitudes when students address similar problems.

Dr. Kathy Williams

Kathy Williams has taught introductory organismal biology, coevolution, insect ecology, and general ecology for almost 30 years at San Diego State University. I began doing STEM education about 20 yr ago, out of frustration that my students didn’t recall what they had “learned” in previous courses. My science education research now focuses on scaling-up undergraduate research, developing and using conceptual assessments for learning, and studying science faculty with education specialties (SFES). As an Assessment Coordinator at San Diego State, I collaborate with faculty across the campus and with colleagues around the country in curriculum design/development and programmatic assessment projects to improve learning for all students. My ecological research focuses on examining ecology and evolution of insect/plant interactions: examining effects of food quality on insect population dynamics; determining ways to improve habitat quality for threatened and endangered insects; using insects as indicators of biodiversity and habitat restoration.