Our Professional Learning and Growth research investigates how scientists, trainees, and educators learn in their profession and develop the skills, practices, and dispositions that support STEM learning.

The Center's current Professional Learning and Growth projects are listed below. You can also read about our completed Professional Learning and Growth projects.

The Virtual Field: A Mitigation Strategy for the COVID-19 Pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic is causing massive disruptions in higher education. Faculty across disciplines are struggling to quickly transition to virtual classrooms. Nowhere has this been more difficult than in the field sciences, where first-hand experience with the complexity of the natural world is essential for applying classroom learning to authentic settings, developing deep content knowledge and skills, and fostering identity as a field scientist.

Convergence Accelerator Phase I (RAISE): Analytics-Driven Accessible Pathways To Impacts-Validated Education (ADAPTIVE) (2019-2020)

Drs. Martin Storksdieck, Nancy Staus and Heather Fischer along with Kimberley Preston are part of a transdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners from academia (Oregon State University, Arizona State University and Indiana University) and industry (The Boeing Company and Burning Glass Technologies) that is developing a career guidance system at a national scale. Through the development of powerful, data-driven tools, the ADAPTIVE project will support the tens of millions of US workers whose jobs are being transformed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation.

Developing Integrative Manufacturing and Production Engineering Curricula That Leverage Data Science (IMPEL) (2019-2022)

Center researchers Dr. Martin Storksdieck, Dr. Heather Fischer, and Kimberley Preston are collaborating with a team of researchers from Northeastern University awarded a $2 million grant by the National Science Foundation to design, develop, and deploy sustainable online courses and curricula that bridge the data science skills gap of the current production engineering workforce.

AISL Framework (2015-2020)

This project centers on the creation and validation of a theoretically-grounded and empirically-derived Framework for professional growth and learning within the informal STEM learning (ISL) field. The Framework will be useful to ISL practitioners at any stage of their education or career by laying out the skills, knowledge, and dispositions necessary to guide professional growth.

STEM Ambassadors Program (STEMAP) (2019 - 2021)

Center researchers Dr. Julie Risien and Holly Cho are working in partnership with the University of Utah, Michigan State University, and the Institute of Learning Innovation on the STEM Ambassador Program.

NASA Earth Science Education Collaborative (NESEC) (2018-2025)

Dr. Heather A. Fischer is leading the Center team for the NESEC evaluation, with support from Dr. Martin Storksdieck, Dr. Matt Nyman, and Holly Cho. The purpose of this evaluation is to (1) Provide strategic guidance to the NESEC team on project focus and productive connection to external partners.

InclusiveExcellence@OSU (2018-2022)

InclusiveExcellence@OSU (IE@OSU) is a collaboration between OSU’s STEM Research Center, the College of Science, and the Division of Undergraduate Education.  At this time, the project team includes:

L'SPACE (2019-2021)

Dr. Heather Fischer and Dr. Martin Storksdieck are leading the evaluating of the L’SPACE academy. The Lucy Student Pipeline Accelerator and Competency Enabler (L’SPACE)Virtual Academy is a new student collaboration program with NASA’s Lucy Mission to Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids.

On-the-Spot Assessment to Improve Scientist Engagement with the Public (OTS) (2018-2021)

The collaborative OTS project will develop a framework of strategies for STEM professionals to use during public engagement outreach events. The project builds on the theory of change that if scientists have training and access to the right resources then they will gain confidence and an understanding of how to flexibly engage with their audience. This two-phase study will work with scientists to create effective strategies that are field-tested across a variety of activity types, leading the project towards a validated OTS model for scientists.