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Higher Education [clear filter]
Wednesday, November 14


A Deeper Dive Into the Digital Divide
As a direct follow-up to this morning’s engaging film screening and discussion of “Without A Net: The Digital Divide in America”, this session will be a conversation about how the digital divide can be bridged and, ultimately closed, in Massachusetts. As the film illustrated, the digital divide not only affects the learning of children at all school levels but continues to affect these individuals as they move out of high school and into college and/or the workplace. Thus, the persistence of the divide throughout all points on the STEM pipeline beg to be addressed. Session speakers will represent the fields of STEM education and business.


Donna Cupelo

Region President, Verizon


Erin Cronin

Mathematics Teacher, Revere High School

Laryssa Doherty

Principal, Clarence R. Edwards Middle School, Boston Public Schools

Paul Foster

Chief Information Officer, Springfield Public Schools

Timothy P. Murray

President and CEO, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce

Wednesday November 14, 2018 9:45am - 10:35am
Meeting Room A


Pathways to STEM Student Success and Workforce Development
There is a growing demand for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals, but the number of STEM graduates is not keeping pace. UMass Boston College of Science and Mathematics (CSM) had been no exception to the problem of low graduation rates, an issue made particularly urgent considering the opportunity we have, as a minority-majority college, to contribute to the diversity of the STEM pipeline and workforce. This urgent issue led to careful analysis of student data to identify the “leaks” in the pipeline and the utilization of a multidimensional approach incorporating data-driven strategies and interventions that strengthened our pipeline and improved success rates for students. The strategies and interventions work synergistically to enable our students to succeed and persist in STEM fields. CSM has successfully leveraged the community concept, which begins with the Freshman Success Community (FSC) Program.  The FSC serves as a platform to address the needs of first-year STEM students, provide an enriched academic experience, and increase motivation to pursue STEM. CSM has developed collaborative relationships with external corporate and institutional partners to support student research and internships. As students make progress through their STEM education (the pipeline), they participate in these high-impact practices and vertical learning communities to generate awareness of STEM careers, increase their confidence in their STEM capabilities, build their network through mentorship with faculty, peers, and industry professionals, and acquire the knowledge and technical and soft skills to be successful in college and pursue rewarding and productive careers in STEM.


Andrew Grosovsky

Dean, College of Science and Mathematics, University of Massachusetts, Boston


Marshall Milner

Executive Director Science Training Programs, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Wednesday November 14, 2018 9:45am - 10:35am
Meeting Room C


A Data-Driven Approach to Aligning Higher Education Programs With Workforce Needs
Learn how accessible, on-line data on job trends in STEM industries can help guide curriculum, connect with industry and improve career awareness among students. As we work to build the STEM pipeline and create career pathways for students, educators need to have access to clear data and analysis that effectively conveys the skill needs of STEM industries. By examining an ongoing partnership between the biopharmaceutical industry and higher education, facilitated by the MassBioEd Foundation, attendees will learn how the daunting task of aligning education programs with the skill requirements of STEM employers can be greatly eased by the effective use of available data on hiring trends. This session includes panelists from higher education, industry and a data provider, who will share how access to such data and analysis has created a common ground for industry and higher education to come together to help direct alignment around skills development and provide new tools for educators at the secondary and post-secondary level to better create awareness among students about careers in the life sciences, for which 12,000 additional jobs will need to be filled by 2023.


Peter Abair

Executive Director, MassBioEd Foundation


Aron Clarke

Training Lead, Sanofi

Kenneth Henderson

Dean of the College of Sciences, Northeastern University

Dan Restuccia

Chief Product and Analytics Officer, Burning Glass Technologies

Wednesday November 14, 2018 10:55am - 11:45am
Junior Ballroom


Job Simulations: An Exercise Connecting Students and Employers in a Meaningful, Time-efficient Way
In today’s diverse STEM economy, students pursue a wide variety of careers critical to the scientific enterprise. However, it can be challenging for students to learn about career options due to time, financial and logistical constraints. Here, we present an educational model for experiential learning developed as part of our National Institutes of Health BEST (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training) grant:  #MicroSim job simulations.  #MicroSims connect students with employers in a meaningful interaction that takes just a few hours. Each simulation activity replicates a task common to the career role, giving the student an opportunity to consider their own career fit. The student shares their job simulation product with an employer in an informational interview or small group discussion setting, helping both student and professional deepen the conversation and build a more meaningful connection. We developed job simulations as a component of our Career Pathways Communities (CPC), which are career-themed learning communities connecting employers and Ph.D. students. We anticipate that the #MicroSims model could be applied to students across STEM disciplines and at various educational levels. In this session, we will share strategies for development and implementation of #MicroSim job simulations and facilitate an audience discussion of potential applications in other contexts. Joining us will be an employer who helped to develop and facilitate a job simulation, and a student who experienced the program, sharing their perspectives about the experience and the benefits for all parties.


Spencer L. Fenn

Assistant Director, Center for Biomedical Career Development, UMass Medical School

Cynthia Fuhrmann

Assistant Dean, Career & Professional Development, Center for Biomedical Career Development, UMass Medical School

Jennifer Griffin

VP, Industry Programs & Relations, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

Heather Yonutas

Career Pathways Curriculum Intern, Center for Biomedical Career Development, UMass Medical School

Wednesday November 14, 2018 10:55am - 11:45am
Meeting Room D


Designing for Scale to Impact System-wide Student Success
To realize the significant change we seek in student success trajectories, solutions have to be implemented across a system at scale. However, scale can be difficult to achieve and maintain. Designing, launching, and supporting an initiative at scale brings its own unique challenges and benefits. Can an initiative launched at scale support a system-level model for promoting student engagement and success across an entire Commonwealth? This session highlights the efforts of the STEM Starter Academy Initiative, administrated through the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, to support the STEM pipeline at all 15 of the public community colleges in Massachusetts. Through this work the campuses have built upon existing STEM programming to provide a cohesive set of student supports through the coordination of different offices on campuses and by learning from each other on what is working to impact student retention rates and program completion. This work has spawned several vibrant partnerships, and connected an active and diverse learning community that is deeply committed to inter- and intra-campus collaboration.

During this session we will review key steps in designing for scale, highlighting specific instances of success, challenge, and emergent best practice. Audience members will learn about implementing an initiative at the system level (at scale) through the lens of STEM Starter Academy programming. Key steps in the process of implementing and supporting work at scale will be highlighted during this session, as well as the practices and lessons learned that have helped shape this initiative into a true learning community that can be applied to other regional and state-wide partnerships.


Allison Little

Executive Director, STEM, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education


Meghan Abella-Bowen

Associate Dean for STEM Initiatives, Bristol Community College

Jeremiah Johnson

Senior Research Manager, UMass Donahue Institute

Valerie Kapilow

STEM Starter Academy Project Director, Massachusetts Bay Community College

Wednesday November 14, 2018 1:45pm - 2:35pm
Meeting Room C


Nudging to STEM Success: Supporting Persistence and Completion in STEM Pathways
Evidence is growing that “nudges” grounded in behavioral science can help students persist through college. This session will discuss lessons and early outcomes from a national initiative using behavioral nudging and intelligent software to increase STEM success and completion. Early experimental results show that the nudging support resulted in a 10 percentage-point increase in spring-to-fall persistence.

Beginning in summer 2017, Persistence Plus and Jobs for the Future launched an initiative to support students at four community colleges with text message nudges for college completion. Serving more than 10,000 students, the Nudging to STEM Success project aims to increase persistence rates for entering students, with an emphasis on success in introductory STEM courses. Nudges are grounded in behavioral science and engage students via text message. These interventions are designed to help students develop a strong college-completion and STEM identity by connecting their STEM studies to their personal values and goals. Nudges also encourage students to set and follow through on academic goals and utilize campus supports like tutoring and advising, while revealing hidden barriers and misconceptions that hinder student success. Attendees will learn how schools in this initiative are leveraging behavioral science and mobile technology to help students navigate through college, and see examples of what interactive nudging via text message looks like from the student perspective.


Serena Fahnbulleh Crain

Program Operations Lead, Persistence Plus

Wednesday November 14, 2018 2:55pm - 3:45pm
Meeting Room A