This workshop presented data on two studies being conducted here at WashU in CIRCLE across various STEM disciplines. The two studies are summarized below and include links to references for more information:

  1. Sense of Belonging in Intro STEM: Who Struggles to Belong?
  2. Students’ Concept-Building Approaches and their Implications for Learning and Performance in STEM Courses

Sense of Belonging

Presented by Angela Fink

This data built upon the work presented in the August 2018 Teaching Academy to describe our Social Belonging Intervention and perhaps the predictability of outcomes (such as grades) in a course given a student’s sense of belonging or belonging uncertainty in a course at the beginning of the semester. The session also highlighted characteristics of students that described themselves as having low levels of belonging or high levels of uncertainty in STEM courses, and what steps instructors can take to support students’ sense of belonging.

Resources on Social Belonging:

Concept-Building Strategies

Presented by Mike Cahill

This session focused on a more cognitive psychological study to understand how students approach learning new material. Specifically, we examined two different types of learners: exemplar and abstraction learners. Over the past several years, we have researched performance outcomes of both types of learners to see if certain types of learners have a better advantage in various STEM courses.

Resources on Concept-Building:

If you are a STEM faculty member here at WashU and are interested in participating in future CIRCLE Teaching Academy events, please contact Ali York at