SJSU Faculty Awarded Inaugural CSU CREATE Award

by | Jul 6, 2022 | Spartan Spotlight

The California State University’s Office of the Chancellor has awarded a $222,000 CSU CREATE Award (Creating Responsive, Equitable, Active Teaching and Engagement Award) to four members of San José State University’s faculty: Cassandra Paul, associate professor of physics and astronomy and science education; Resa Kelly, professor of chemistry and science education; Gina Quan, assistant professor of physics and astronomy; and Jennifer Avena, assistant professor of biological sciences. SJSU’s award is the largest bestowed by the CSU of the five winning proposals, which ranged from $48,000 to $222,000.

The inaugural CSU CREATE Award program is designed to accelerate momentum toward Graduation Initiative 2025 goals by creating opportunities for faculty to lead innovative projects. The SJSU faculty, along with Kim Coble, physics and astronomy professor at San Francisco State University; and Laura Rios, assistant professor of physics at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; received the award for their proposal “Agents of Change: Faculty-Learning Assistant Partnerships Supporting Active, Engaging, Equitable Learning Environments.”

Cassandra Paul

Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Science Education Cassandra Paul is the project’s principal investigator. Photo courtesy of Cassandra Paul.

As principal investigator, Paul will lead the project, which builds on the model of learning assistants (LAs), student-educators who facilitate active learning through small group discussions in courses they have previously taken. 

“We are really excited to begin the important work supported by our CREATE grant,” said Paul. “We are looking forward to better supporting learning assistants (LAs) and faculty as they form partnerships in order to better support students. Specifically, we are excited about fostering equity-minded engagement and enabling LA-faculty pairs to develop culturally responsive pedagogies and instructional methods aligned with the CSU’s 2025 initiative.”

The project will offer one-day faculty retreats, or faculty academies, to give LAs and faculty members the chance to collaborate, brainstorm ways to create a more student-centered curriculum and create novel — and more accessible — relational structures in the classroom. Undergraduate students studying physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, math and computer science at San José State, San Francisco State and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo will participate in the program. Participating faculty members hope to create a framework for charting productive, equitable pathways forward in implementing sustainable LA models at other CSU campuses.

Learn more about the 2022-2023 CSU CREATE Awardees.