Romine, Byrnes awarded $498,340 grant for three-year STEM education project

Photo of a professor in a classroom and students listening to her. The professor is holding what appears to be a model of the human leg and on the screen behind her is a diagram of a human leg

Dr. Rebecca Romine (center) and Dr. Jennifer Byrnes (not pictured) received the grant for STEM education

UH West Oʻahu received a $498,340 federal award for a program aimed at increasing Native Hawaiian student success in STEM coursework by providing students with access to Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology as well as integrating place-based curriculum into the courses.

The “Enhancing Discovery-based Learning in STEM Education by Integrating Augmented Technology and Culture-based Pedagogy,” award was granted by the National Science Foundation’s Tribal College and University Program in June. Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Physiology Rebecca Romine is the principal investigator for the project with Associate Professor of Anthropology Jennifer Byrnes serving as co-principal investigator.

The project aligns with the mission of the NSF’s Tribal College and University Program, which promotes high quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, along with research and outreach for tribal institutions, and colleges and universities that serve Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. The project will serve all students who register for PHYL 141/L (Human Anatomy and Physiology I and Lab), PHYL 142/L (Human Anatomy and Physiology II and Lab), and ANTH/BIOL 384/L (Human Skeletal Biology and Lab) courses, including Native Hawaiians. 

The project will focus on improving curriculum and instruction in these specific courses and frame curriculum in culture-based (place-based) content and contexts while utilizing AR and VR.  More specifically, the project will:

  • Redesign Anatomy & Physiology and Human Skeletal Biology courses to integrate interdisciplinary technology-infused teaching curriculum;
  • Redesign the Anatomy & Physiology and Human Skeletal Biology courses to integrate culturally relevant knowledge and teaching methodologies and practices. 
  • Align learning outcomes to create a STEM pathway from revised curriculum that is based on augmented reality and Hawaiian indigenous knowledge integration.

Portions of the project will extend outside of the classroom setting, including site visits to culturally relevant sites such as Kalaupapa on the island of Molokaʻi and STEM-related institutions such as the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Additionally there will be guests invited to speak who are the product of various career pathways (i.e. health care professionals, cultural practitioners, and research associates). 

The project hopes to achieve broader impacts by enhancing the quality of STEM education and increase the number of Native Hawaiian students who achieve learning outcomes in anatomy-based courses. The project estimates 300 students will benefit from the curriculum transformation over the life of the grant. 

UH West Oʻahu is part of the 10-campus University of Hawaiʻi System, which aspires to be the world’s foremost indigenous serving university, including supporting a Native Hawaiian student success agenda and programs of study and support for the Hawaiian language, history and culture. Roughly 900, or about 29 percent, of UH West Oʻahu’s student body listed themselves as Native Hawaiian or part-Hawaiian during the Fall 2018 Semester. 

Image courtesy of UHWO Staff