The STEM Education Innovations program offers unprecedented opportunities for undergraduates to conduct authentic research, even as freshmen, through both course-embedded group research and faculty-mentored individual research – resulting in greater academic success and a likelihood students will persist in their endeavors to become STEM professionals.

SST's STEM Education Innovations

STEM Education Vision

The School of Science and Technology revolutionizes the undergraduate STEM learning experience by introducing GGC students to research opportunities beginning in their first year. It’s an innovative, multi-faceted model based on the dean’s vision of a four-year undergraduate research and creative experiences (4YrURCE) program. 

STEM Student Benefits

  • Unprecedented opportunities to conduct authentic research
  • Structured and intentional four-year program designed to develop skills in one stage and apply them in the next 
  • Course-embedded Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs)
  • Traditional, faculty-mentored individual research
  • Leadership, support and community-service options through two additional programs: Peer Supplemental Instruction (PSI) and Service Learning (SL)

Four Year Undergraduate Research and Creative Experiences (4YrURCE) Model

GGC STEM majors conduct research – freshmen to senior year. The 4YrURCE is a scaffolded program building skills in one stage and applying them in the next. During the progression from stage-to-stage, students start with skills and competencies from each previous stage and build upon them to develop more advanced skills and competencies while undertaking more challenging STEM research problems.

Learn more about the options for each academic program.


Biology students during outdoor demonstration project.

Chemistry Programs

Chemistry students during an experiment

Environmental Science Programs

Exercise Science Program

Information Technology Programs

ITEC students in the media lab

Mathematics Program

Peer collaboration

Course-Embedded Research Experiences (CUREs)

Students who conduct research as undergraduates have greater success in their academic programs and persist on the pathway to becoming STEM professionals.

It’s a game-changing idea. 

SST faculty collaborate, design, implement and assess CUREs for specific courses. It’s a multi-faceted approach that both increases student engagement in the course and prepares students to undertake faculty-mentored individual research through STEC-2500 and STEC-4500 courses. 

Students benefit from talented faculty who are the heart of innovative CUREs, and SST’s competitive mini-grant program assists with funding these innovative efforts. 

More information about funding can be found in the Funding Support for Educators section that follows.

Peer Supplemental Instruction (PSI)

The Peer Supplemental Instruction (PSI) program provides both support for students in STEM-related courses and leadership opportunities for junior and seniors.

Academic Support

Students conducting peer instruction

PSI supports a successful transition from high school to college-level STEM courses. This is a critical transition when students often exit STEM programs because they struggle to meet the demands of introductory college-level course work. PSI provides collaborative learning opportunities for students to reinforce understanding of course material and work with peer leaders. Peer leaders – who have already succeeded in the course and are trained to prepare lesson plans and use active learning strategies – facilitate learning during PSI sessions. These sessions provide structured learning activities to reinforce course content, develop study skills that translate to other STEM courses and encourage students to build collaborative relationships with their peers. The PSI program currently supports courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics and information technology.

View the weekly updated virtual PSI session schedule.
Learn about other academic opportunities and support at GGC.


Students who have previously succeeded in the introductory STEM courses serve as PSI leaders. Leaders gain many skills beyond the classroom through planning and facilitating study sessions for their peers. Leaders strengthen their own knowledge of the material, gain confidence in their ability to persist in the STEM pipeline, and develop important job skills including leadership, time management, teamwork and public speaking. Leaders are guided through this experience by PSI faculty team members, who work closely with the leaders and the faculty teaching the introductory courses.

  Participate in the PSI Program  

The PSI program is funded and supported by the STEM IV Initiative Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and the National Science Foundation under NSF Award No. 1623779.

NSF logo    Board of Regents logo

Service Learning (SL)

Chemistry students studying beaker content.

Service Learning integrates community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities. SL students work alongside Gwinnett County Public School System teachers to motivate and educate the next generation of STEM majors. In addition to forging important links with the community and future GGC students, SL improves student interns' teaching and communication skills as well as enhancing their scientific literacy.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Essential to educating the next generation of STEM professionals, faculty participate in ongoing professional development that benefit each student’s unique learning style. The partnership between faculty and GGC’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) develops multiple teaching methodologies in learner-centered teaching, course design, educational technology, student engagement, and the scholarship aspects of teaching and learning.

Funding Support for Educators

The National Science Foundation (NSF)

NSF funds efforts to develop a well-prepared and innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce, which is crucial to the Nation's health and economy. NSF’s Award (ongoing) to GGC, “An Institutional Model for Increasing Student Engagement through Course-embedded Undergraduate Research Experiences,” with Dr. Judy Awong-Taylor as principle investigator (PI), provides $1,629,924 in funding support over four years to implement GGC's innovative vision. 

Learn more about NSF undergraduate education programs.

SST Mini-grant Award Program

SST awards mini-grants to both external and internal partners to design, implement and assess innovative STEM education CUREs modules, courses and programs. The mini-grant program issues an annual request for proposals (RFP), conducts a panel review board and awards funds to support faculty innovations. For additional information on the mini-grant program for external and internal partners, contact Dr. Judy Awong-Taylor.

The University System of Georgia (USG)

The USG STEM Initiative works aggressively with USG institutions and K-12 partners to increase 1) the number of K-12 students who are prepared for and are interested in majoring in STEM disciplines in college; 2) the success and completion rates of college students majoring in STEM disciplines; and 3) the number of qualified K-12 STEM teachers.

USG STEM II Initiative (complete), 2011-2016, Dr. Tom Mundie (principle investigator)

USG Education Improvement Plan (EIP) Award (ongoing) to GGC, “Improving P-16 STEM Performance via High Student Engagement Strategies,” with Dr. Tom Mundie as principle investigator (PI), provides $540,000 over three years to implement GGC's innovative vision.

Learn more about the USG STEM Initiative.

Innovations Community of Practice for Educators

To further the dean’s vision for innovative STEM education, the STEM Education Innovations Team invites educators to visit GGC's collaborative and interactive site on GGC Academic Commons (login required). Here you will find up-to-date information on the following topics:

  • Virtual Communities of Practice (VCoP)
  • Annual SST STEM Symposium
  • Request for Proposals (RFPs)
  • External Collaboration Opportunities
  • Funding Opportunities
  • 4-Year Undergraduate Research and Creative Experiences (4YrURCE) Model
  • Course-embedded Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs)
  • Service Learning (SL)
  • Peer Supplemental Instruction (PSI)
  • Archival information on GGC's innovative efforts to improve STEM education

Read the online article authored by the STEM NSF/USG grant team in Scientia: "Engendering Faculty and Student Engagement in STEM Education: An Institutional Model." A SciPod audio version is also available through SoundCloud.