Partnering with an HBCU to Support Success in STEM Education

Every science educator wants to help their students achieve their goals, and HBCU faculty seem to have discovered the formula for success. To find out what they are doing right, we surveyed STEM faculty at many HBCUs and visited our partners at Fisk University. Watch and listen to what we’ve learned and get exclusive access to our survey results!

Looking for the right formula

Historically Black Colleges and Universities represent just 3% of all institutions, but graduate a stunning 24% of all Black bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields. HBCUs are clearly getting it right and there’s a lot to be learned.

We asked Cord Carter at Fisk University

Just four faculty members teach in the chemistry department at Fisk University, an institution recently ranked among the top 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States by US News and World Report. From 2020-2021, Cord Carter was one of those four, teaching general chemistry, organic chemistry, and natural science courses. In his role as Fisk University’s chemistry lab manager, it was Carter’s responsibility to find an alternative to teaching with in-person labs during the pandemic. He knew he had a unique solution when he found Labster.

Learning Outcomes

After teaching with Labster simulations, Cord Carter observed that his students seemed more able to apply their learning to real-life situations. Carter wanted to know how their learning outcomes compared to those from prior years when students were taught with traditional teaching methods. He suspected that his pedagogical approach of using active learning with Labster was more impactful for his students than the traditional lecture methods that were used in 2019. The results came as no surprise to him: average final course grades increased from a C- to a B.

“Click a button and you get to explore Labster simulations and see how what you learn in the classroom relates to real-world applications."
Cord Carter - Fisk University
Cord Carter
Fisk University

"Why I teach at an HBCU"

“When I was growing up, I didn’t see a lot of people who looked like me that were chemistry professors. Attending an HBCU allows students to see faculty who like them and can actually relate to their situation. I just want to share my passion for chemistry with my students so they’ll love chemistry as much as I do.
The beauty of Fisk is that it’s a smaller institution and the faculty in our department know every student on a first name basis. Class sizes are small so we’re able to help individual students get more excited by science. We sometimes don’t have the same facilities and resources as our sister institutions, but having Labster has actually helped reduce our costs and helped our students achieve better outcomes in lab courses.”

“It takes you to different settings. You'll be in the lab, out in the wilderness ... which really held my attention because it was interesting. And you'll retain more information that way."
Brianna Brown
Brianna Brown
Student at Fisk University

Get exclusive access to survey results

Fill out the form below to see how HBCU faculty view their institutions & their roles as instructors.

Choosing science at Fisk

Watch what an instructor and his students have to say

Hear Cord & Brianna
tell their stories

HBCUs can play an unique role in supporting science students

Meet Cord and Brianna - Podcast (Part 1)

Episode summary

In part one of this special two-part episode, SJ chats with chemistry professor Cord Carter and his former student and research assistant, Brianna Brown. Cord and Brianna share their experiences teaching and learning at Fisk University, a well-known HBCU in Nashville, TN. They discuss their passion for STEM education, the importance of Fisk’s history, and how much representation matters.

Equity and Representation - Podcast (Part 2)

Episode summary

The importance of providing guidance, mentoring, and opportunities to network drive the conversation in this second part of our special two-part episode with chemistry professor Cord Carter and his former student and research assistant, Brianna Brown. Brianna explains how her alma mater, Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, has successfully helped her to stay motivated to reach her bold goals. Cord tells a personal story about how important it was that one of his own professors expressed a personal interest in him, and how he now works to help his students to take inspiration from a diverse group of STEM professionals he invites into his classroom.

Get exclusive access to survey results

Fill out the form below to see how HBCU faculty view their institutions & their roles as instructors.

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