G. Kioukis and R. McGhee, “STEM Active Learning Vignette Series: The Undergraduate VIP Program at Virginia Commonwealth University,” Equal Measure, Jul-2018. [Online]. Available: http://www.equalmeasure.org/ideas/report/stem-active-learning-vignette-series-undergraduate-vip-program-virginia-commonwealth-unviersity/.


STEM Active Learning Vignette Series: The Undergraduate VIP Program at Virginia Commonwealth University
Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust (the Trust) has committed more than $1.5 billion to nonprofits and other mission-aligned organizations in the United States and around the world. Although no longer a focus for the Trust, from 2008- 2016 the Trust’s postsecondary education grantmaking focused on increasing the number of college graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields—particularly female students and students of color. The Trust’s postsecondary grantmaking portfolio supported networks of higher education institutions committed to improving instructional practices, primarily for gateway STEM courses, and creating incentives to adopt model policies, practices, and systems that can help improve student retention and completion. Each network adopted one or more active learning strategies, evidence-based teaching and learning approaches that can improve students’ performance in STEM. While the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s investment has concluded, most of the networks continue to move forward with implementing these strategies. As the STEM Active Learning Networks evaluation and learning partner, Equal Measure is tracking the impact of the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s postsecondary grantmaking on faculty, departmental, and institutional change across networks. Since 2014, Equal Measure has examined the conditions that support progress at the institution, department, and classroom levels toward network goals. Using qualitative methods, we have documented the results of network efforts, including emerging outcomes at the institution, department, and educator levels. In 2017, Equal Measure visited five campuses representing four of the initial seven networks to delve into site-level implementation. In this vignette, we showcase Virginia Commonwealth University’s undergraduate VIP program, which focuses on student persistence in STEM majors though the incorporation of active learning techniques.