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UTEP Professor Selected for NSF Video Showcase Highlighting Innovation in STEM Education

Last Updated on May 16, 2018 at 3:00 PM

Originally published May 16, 2018

By UC Staff

UTEP Communications

A UTEP professor has been selected to share his work at the 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase presented by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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Lawrence Lesser, Ph.D.

Lawrence Lesser, Ph.D., professor of mathematics education in The University of Texas at El Paso’s College of Science, will be part of the fourth annual NSF event taking place May 14-21, 2018. The showcase will feature three-minute, professional-quality video presentations of 215 innovative projects aimed at improving STEM learning and teaching. The theme for this year’s video showcase, which is funded by NSF and other federal agencies, is “Transforming the Educational Landscape.”

Throughout the week, researchers, practitioners, policymakers and the public are invited to view the short videos, discuss them with presenters online and vote for their favorites.

The UTEP presentation, titled, “Learning Introductory Statistics with Interactive Songs,” describes a $295,000 multi-institution project funded through the NSF’s Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) Department of Undergraduate Education (DUE) mechanism,.

The project features an online collection of 26 high-quality interactive songs designed to span learning objectives of introductory statistics. The songs are interactive in that the interface solicits as well as provides hints and feedback on student contributions. It then plays back the song with student inputs integrated with a synthetic voice and highlighted in scrolling lyrics. Results show that songs helped reduce anxiety, increase engagement with material, were relevant to learning and had a user-friendly interface. Data from randomized experiments conducted at two- and four-year institutions are now being analyzed to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. 

Lesser is a principal investigator of the project, which included contributions from  Dominic Dousa, D.A., composer in UTEP’s Department of Music; Stephen Haddad, commercial music area coordinator in UTEP’s Department of Music; and  students and graduates who helped engineer or sing on the recordings.

 “Being included in this showcase is an exciting honor,” said Lesser, who is also an award-winning songwriter. “It’s also a stimulating experience in terms of networking with kindred projects and getting this huge wave of visibility for our own project at the very moment we publicly launch the innovation that has been three years in the making with our NSF grant.”