Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity

Prior Evaluations

Undergraduate-focused Evaluation


Diversity Action Plans

Supported by the UW College of Engineering and several engineering departments, the purpose of the UW Engineering diversity action plans was to facilitate the departmental ability to make data-driven decisions that will enable UW departments to attract increasing numbers of highly sought after diverse students.  Using a mixed methods approach (surveys, demographic data, bench-marking, and focus groups), CERSE synthesized data to create a diversity profile for each department and made targeted, actionable recommendations to department chairs.



Funded by the National Science Foundation, the goal of ENGAGE was to increase the capacity of engineering schools to retain undergraduate students by facilitating the implementation of three research-based strategies to improve student day-to-day classroom and educational experience.  As the evaluator of ENGAGE, CERSE interviewed and surveyed implementation teams on each campus to determine the extent to which students were being impacted by the ENGAGE strategies, faculty perceptions of changes in student engagement, and changes in student performance in spatial visualization.


Northwest Engineering Talent Expansion Partnership (NW-ETEP)/MESA Community College Partnership (MCCP)

CERSE participated in the NSF-funded MESA Community College Partnership (formerly Northwest Engineering Talent Expansion Partnership), a joint effort to increase the number of underrepresented minorities and women in engineering. MCCP is composed of Washington State community colleges and universities offering engineering and preparatory degrees, as well as organizations within these institutions that are concerned with diversifying the STEM workforce. The primary goal of MCCP is to promote the participation and retention of underrepresented groups in engineering programs in Washington State. CERSE was the internal evaluator of the MCCP grant, assessing MCCP activities at eight post-secondary institutions.


Transforming Engineering through PEERs: Building a Better Experience for Underrepresented Students

PEERS was an institutional transformation project funded by NSF to positively impact the climate of engineering through a cadre of change agents who create and encourage improved and more equitable relationships at the University of Washington. This project worked to “fix the system” rather than the typical retention approach of “fixing the student.” In its assessment, CERSE measured the outcomes of this project on the institutional climate of engineering at the UW through undergraduate climate surveys; focus groups with students, faculty, and staff; and analysis of changing demographics in engineering enrollments and degrees.


Replicable Model for University Student-Run Outreach Programs

Funded by the Engineering Information Foundation, University of Washington Women’s Initiative (UWWI)  provided tools and information to establish student-led outreach programs in order to recruit more students into engineering fields. As the evaluator, CERSE conducted a short-term outcomes and formative assessment to measure preliminary impact of the program on middle school students. Outcomes examined included changing stereotypes of engineers, new perspectives on the social value of engineering, and increased interest in the engineering profession. In addition, CERSE assessed the effectiveness of the web materials.

K-12 / MESA Evaluations


First Nations MESA

CERSE worked with Washington Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) to conduct an evaluation for a capacity-building grant for First Nations MESA in order to: (1) assist First Nations MESA in developing a best practices model that can be exported to other Native communities across the state of Washington; (2) assess the need for culture-based science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum in the local schools; and (3) provide recommendations for local expansion. Evaluation activities included conducting a) pre-evaluation focus groups with stakeholders (completed Fall 2008), b) observations of selected First Nations MESA activities (2008-2009), and c) a second stakeholder analysis.


Strategic Education Centers (SEC)

Funded by the Gates Foundation, Strategic Education Centers aim to empower youth in Swaziland by providing health education, student exchange opportunities, and technology and academic training. In addition to the prevention of HIV/AIDS, which is widespread in Swaziland, SEC aims to give adolescent boys and girls the knowledge to pursue higher education in technological fields, and subsequent employment in thriving fields. Originally intended for girls, the program will soon be expanded to include boys.

CERSE, in conjunction with the UW Center for Health Research and Education (CHER), monitored and evaluated the success of each cohort of students participating in the SEC program. CERSE’s formative evaluation constituted an improvement of SEC’s previous monitoring and evaluation techniques, and allowed SEC to document the changes in student behaviors, attitudes, and knowledge of HIV/AIDS prevention.

Nanotechnology-related Evaluations


Establishing a Minor in Nanoscale and Molecular Biology (NSF NUE)

In 2009, the National Science Foundation Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education (NUE) program awarded the University of Washington a grant to support the project NUE NME Minor: Minor in Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering. The main purpose of this grant was to support development of an undergraduate minor in Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering. To measure the impact of lab modules and new course development on students, formative and summative (outcomes) evaluations were conducted to assess and improve the effectiveness of these components of the new NME minor curriculum. Strategies employed included course and lab module assessments and tracking of student interest and intent to minor in NME.


Nanotechnology Ph.D. IGERT Program

Funded by the National Science Foundation IGERT program, CERSE was contracted by the UW Center for Nanotechnology to study outcomes of students participating in its Ph.D. program. The goals of the evaluation were to:

  • Monitor the progress of students affiliated with the Nanotechnology Program.
  • Give students a confidential mode of providing feedback to the Nanotechnology Program.
  • Address specific topics that were designated by the Nanotechnology Program.
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the program from a student perspective.

CERSE developed a tracking system that monitored student progress, recorded student perceptions about the field, and evaluated the role of an integrative educational program in the lives of the students. In addition, the questionnaire was designed to assess career preparation, participation in industry internships, interdisciplinary collaboration and student’s publication efforts.


Female Faculty / ADVANCE related evaluations


Council of Colleges of Arts & Sciences, ADVANCE Institutional Transformation

The Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) was the focus of a collaborative effort funded through the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) ADVANCE program. The overarching aim of this grant was to cultivate academic leaders who are more knowledgeable about STEM gender equity issues, more able and motivated to address those issues, and thus better positioned to effect positive and transformational change in their own colleges and departments. CERSE used several assessment strategies including longitudinal survey analysis, document analysis, and observations to conduct summative, formative, and process evaluations for this $1.2 million project.


NSF CAREER Award Assessment of Educational Outreach Plans

Funded by the NSF CAREER program, Dr. Sapna Cheryan received a grant to fund her research and education activities related to stereotypes in computer science (CS). Part of her educational plan is to educate teachers, professors, advisors, and students about how stereotypes can limit the diversity in the CS field and how even minor adjustments to environments can have a positive impact on student perceptions of CS. CERSE evaluated progress towards Dr. Cheryan’s educational goals through workshop feedback and portfolio reviews.


Center for Institutional Change, ADVANCE Institutional Transformation

With a National Science Foundation ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Award, the University of Washington created the Center for Institutional Change (CIC) to help transform the culture at the UW. The aim of ADVANCE was to increase the participation of women in science and engineering.

The UW ADVANCE project was designed to build upon existing strengths at the university while serving as the catalyst for institutional transformation. The CIC focused on the implementation of programs designed to eliminate existing barriers to women and to precipitate cultural change at both the departmental and the institutional level. The UW ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change had six major components:

  • Leadership development for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) chairs and deans.
  • Department cultural change.
  • Examination of UW policies for equity and policy transformation.
  • Mentoring women in STEM for leadership.
  • Visiting scholars who can contribute to the goals of the project.
  • Transitional support for female faculty members in STEM departments.

CERSE served as the internal evaluator for the ADVANCE grant and managed a faculty and graduate student mentoring program for the CIC. CERSE also coordinated the external evaluation process led by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The NSF ADVANCE grant has ended, but CIC has continued a subset of the activities and CERSE has continued to serve as internal evaluator, albeit in a more limited capacity.


Center for Institutional Change, Chair Leadership Workshops

Leadership Excellence for Academic Diversity (LEAD) was a series of two-day national leadership workshops over a three-year period for department chairs, deans, and emerging leaders in STEM offered by the ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change at the University of Washington and funded by the National Science Foundation. The goals of LEAD included:

  • Learn practical strategies and tools to improve department culture and climate.
  • Explore unintended and unconscious biases that disproportionately impact women and under-represented faculty.
  • Address important issues such as the recruitment and selection of faculty, the evaluation of faculty performance, conflict resolution, and leadership.
  • Discuss case studies on faculty and departmental life.
  • CERSE served as the evaluator of LEAD to measure the usefulness, relevance, and applicability of the workshop content.


Center for Institutional Change, On-Ramps into Academia Workshops

Funded by NSF, On Ramps into Academia was a series of two-day workshops over a three-year period to provide practical tools and support to women who are interested in making the transition to academia. The goal of this project was to increase the pool of women faculty available to all universities by providing professional development to Ph.D.-level women in industry or research laboratories. It was offered by the ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change at the University of Washington.

CERSE served as the evaluator of On-Ramps. The assessment plan was strongly directed at outcomes evaluation and helped identify concrete best practices to encourage women into faculty pathways.


Women Evolving Biological Sciences Symposia

Funded by NSF, Women Evolving Biological Science (WEBS) was a  three-day symposium aimed at addressing the retention of female scientists and issues related to the transition of women from early career stages to tenure track positions and leadership roles in academic and research settings that ran from 2007 through 2013. The goal of WEBS was to significantly increase the retention and promotion of women in academia in the biological sciences in order to create greater diversity in academic and scientific leadership.

As the evaluator, CERSE provided an outcomes evaluation and formative evaluation. Participants were tracked longitudinally to monitor changes in their career paths and the role of WEBS in providing guidance and support in their careers.