Shusterman Lab

Blue dots and swirls.

Dr. Gwen Shusterman

Professor of Chemistry
Ph.D. | University of California at Berkeley, 1983
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California at Berkeley, 1983-1984

Personally Maintained Website

Research and Scholarly Interests

I am now leading STEM educational interdisciplinary, cross college endeavors under the banner of the Portland State STEM Initiative: Supporting, Teaching and Engaging Minds in STEM. In particular, with a $2,000,000 five year grant, from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Education Initiative, I will be directing a project to improve student persistence and retention in science by addressing the issues of student engagement, interpersonal relationships and collaborations, science identity and math competency. This project will implement four strategies that engage students in problem-based scientific research by: a) changing classroom pedagogy; b) reforming and assessing curricular materials with technology-based guided learning; c) redesigning teaching labs to emphasize project based work; d) and creating pathways to degree completion that build community and lead to successful diverse graduates.

We will be creating curriculum, implementing and assessing a unique pedagogical strategy utilizing deliberative democracy.  Deliberative democracy engages students in the practice of discursive decision-making about real-world problems, through structured opportunities for students to critically examine, reflect upon, and engage in collaborative discursive activities on an issue with the intentional purpose to develop consensual decisions based on scientific information and reasoning.  The research component of the project will investigate two questions. 

  1. Does adoption of deliberative pedagogy improve STEM students’ engagement, achievement, persistence, and science identity?
  2. How to effectively involve and engage faculty in reform efforts? What institutional supports and student learning outcomes do faculty need to experience in order to see the feasibility and value of the reform?

This STEM work will be supported by collaboration with Lisa Weasel, a pioneer in deliberative democracy pedagogy, three new discipline based education research faculty lines, a new STEM education research faculty line in the Graduate School of Education, the doctoral program in mathematics education, education researchers in the Department of Psychology, the STEM Council and the campus-wide STEM Education Group.