NC State

STEM Education Initiative

Bob Beichner


Professor Beichner received his PhD in 1989 from the State University of New York at Buffalo and joined the NC State Physics Department in 1992 as an Assistant Professor. He advanced through the professorial ranks and was named an Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor in 2003.

He invented the popular Video-Based Lab (VBL) pedagogy, where students examine video clips of motion and watch synchronized kinematics graphs. As part of that effort he created the Test of Understanding Graphs in Kinematics, used by numerous teachers and researchers and serving as a model for similar conceptual assessment instruments. Dr. Beichner and his students have written and evaluated a series of these tests that are in use around the globe. For much of his career he has focused his attention on redesigning introductory physics education. His work laid the foundation for research done on active learning spaces. He initiated the SCALE-UP (Student Centered Active Learning Environment with Upside-down Pedagogies) project in the mid 1990s. This approach has led to changes in classrooms around the world, at institutions ranging from middle schools and high schools to MIT. SCALE-UP has been adopted at hundreds of universities and middle/high schools and had spread to content areas ranging from archeology to zoology.

Beichner has received numerous teaching awards and is a member of NC State's Academy of Outstanding Teachers. He received the Ohaus Award for Innovation from the National Science Teachers Association. He was named the 2009 North Carolina Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and received the 2010 UNC System’s Board of Governors Award. Beichner was named the 2010 National Undergraduate Science Teacher of the Year by the Society of College Science Teachers and the National Science Teachers Association. In 2011 he was awarded the McGraw Prize, the premier honor in the field of education. He was also honored by Congress as noted in the US Congressional Record of September 29, 2011. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Association of Physics Teachers. In 2015 he was only the second individual to receive the American Physical Society’s Award for Excellence in Physics Education, which is normally only given to groups or large projects.

Here is a link to his NCSU information page.

Maria Oliver-Hoyo


The Department of Chemistry at North Carolina State University offers a Ph.D in Chemistry with an emphasis in Chemistry Education Research (CER). Graduate level studies combine core courses in traditional areas of chemistry with courses in relevant disciplines such as science education and statistics. Graduate students comply with all departmental guidelines including coursework, graduate presentations, and defense of an original research dissertation. Our unique program targets the design, development, and assessment of resources for chemistry instruction at all levels. These resources can be chemistry focused, pedagogically focused, and/or technology oriented.

In her teaching philosophy, Dr. Oliver-Hoyo states that she believes “students rise to the level they themselves realize they can reach and that all students deserve the best opportunities to learn.” This philosophy informs her development of classes whose primary goal is not about simply facilitating content but rather engendering positive attitudes in students that create environments conducive to improving the skills necessary for them to understand and master content. Recognizing that large-scale classrooms have a direct impact on positive teacher/student interaction, Dr. Oliver-Hoyo used the existing SCALE-UP format (Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs) in the College of Sciences to implement an activity-driven curriculum for General Chemistry. These hands-on, activity-rich and daily-life relevant activities have boosted student engagement, teacher/student interaction and enhanced student critical thinking skills in large-scale classes.

Dr. Oliver-Hoyo recently received the UNC Board of Governor's Teaching Award.

Here is a link to her NCSU information page.

David McConnell


David McConnell grew up in Northern Ireland where he earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from Queen’s University in Belfast. He subsequently earned graduate degrees from US institutions with a specialization in structural geology but his early experience with university teaching caused him to change his focus to discipline-based education research. David manages a geoscience education research group that includes a mix of undergraduate and graduate students and a postdoc. Check out their popular GeoScience Videos YouTube Channel or visit their blog where they discuss how they use a flipped class format to teach large introductory geology courses.

Dr. McConnell's research focus is on geoscience education, with specific attention to assessment of learning in introductory courses, the relationship between teaching beliefs and practices, and professional development of graduate students and faculty. Some of our most recent work has resulted in the creation of a collection of short videos suitable for intro courses that are available on our YouTube channel ( Previous research included multi-institutional studies on the connection between student affect and cognition; transfer of learning through cooperative assessment exercises; large classroom instructional interventions; models and modeling in the geosciences; and studies surrounding the novice-expert continuum of hard to learn geoscience topics.

Here is a link to his NCSU information page.

Dr. McGowan is a Teaching Associate Professor in the Department of Statistics. Her primary area of research is statistics education. This includes aspects of teaching and learning in statistics courses, such as exploring the effects of educational technology, as well as how studies are conducted in educational settings. She was awarded the 2017 Boos Citizenship Award in recognition of her outstanding teaching, contributions to the undergraduate program, and service to the Department and University through the StatClub, the Park Scholars program, the Pack Promise program, the Women in Statistics group, and Preparing for the Professoriate.

Here is a link to her NCSU information page.

Dr. Keene is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education. Her research interests lie in two primary arenas. First, she conducts research in undergraduate mathematics education, primarily concerning differential equations teaching and learning. She focuses on how students learn to conceptually understand solutions to first order differential equations and systems of differential equations. Additionally she researches the social construction of mathematical meaning in undergraduate classrooms. Her second area of research is studying secondary teacher education. She studies teachers content knowledge and how that connects to their teaching and curriculum development. She is currently serving at the National Science Foundation as a Program Officer. Here is a news release about her appointment.

Here is a link to her NCSU information page.

Dr. Fetzli is a Teaching Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. She focuses on giving students an active role in the learning process. A past recipient of the university’s Outstanding Teaching Award and the CALS Outstanding Adviser Award, she is an education fellow for the National Academies of Science and a member of the Academy of Outstanding Teachers. She has been honored by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities for her outstanding teaching and service to students and the profession.

Here is a link to her NCSU information page.

Dr. Baldwin is a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education and teaches classes for the College of Engineering.

Here is a link to her NCSU information page.

The entire Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Department, located in the College of Education, studies and works to improve STEM learning, primarily for K-12 students. They also prepare teachers for middle, secondary, and post-secondary STEM instruction. Take a look at this great news article on what is being done.

Here is a link to more information about the Department.