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Circular Library

Student Success Initiatives 

STEM student success is at the heart of our work in the Walter Research Group. This page summarizes some of the initiatives that Dr. Walter has designed and implemented, both at California State University - Fresno and in collaboration with colleagues across the globe.

Many of these projects were funded with the support of the National Science Foundation, the California Learning Lab, USAID, or the CSU Chancellor's Office.

Picture of families and faculty at 2024 NERDs camp


NERDs Camp

Networking for Engagement and Re-Design (NERDs) is an NSF-funded 2.5-day Faculty Teaching Camp. At camp, STEM faculty experience an intensive experiential and culturally sustaining learning workshop in which they learn how to use Applied Improvisation and Storytelling for Communication in their courses.


This camp is special for many reasons, one of which is because faculty are encouraged to bring their partner, dogs, and children. Faculty learn not only pedagogy, but also share ways in which they themselves are "nerds" during informal campfire interactions, such as karaoke, board games, and stargazing. NERDs Camp is a collaboration between Dr. Emily Walter, Dr. Mario Banuelos (Mathematics, Fresno State), Dr. Connie Jones (Psychology, Fresno State) and Dr. Amy Ressler, a theater education professor at CSU Bakersfield.


Research Deconstruction

In this California Learning Lab project, students learn STEM content through the lens of real research, not random facts from the book. Students watch a recorded research seminar and then have that research connected to the STEM content they are learning in their majors' or general education science course. At the end of the semester, the students often have a live Q&A with the researcher, helping them to see science and scientists in a different light, especially since this person is often a woman or a faculty member of color, and therefore shares many things in common with students from historically marginalized groups. This project is a collaboration among faculty at Fresno State, Glendale Community College, Santa Monica College, and UCLA.

Research deconstruction logo
People looking at a map using a compass


COMPASS Alliance

COMPASS: COMprehensive Planning Around Student Success. The goal of COMPASS Alliance, a team of faculty, staff, and administrators led by Dr. Walter and Dr. Marsha Baum, the AVP of Faculty Affairs, was to bring together leaders in student success at Fresno State for strategic planning, evaluation, and facilitation of new faculty and student success initiatives.


The goal of COMPASS included strategic planning around a research-based change framework (Kezar, 2018), a tiered mini-grant program for campus initiatives modeled off of work at UC Irvine, an information hub and network analysis map for all projects on campus related to teaching and learning, and comprehensive evaluation of programming in all areas of teaching and learning for the campus.


Transforming Higher Education Systems in Malawi

In collaboration with colleagues at Michigan State University, and 9 higher education partners in Malawi,

Dr. Walter helped to lead a $17M project to introduce effective STEM pedagogies and curricular design; improve students’ technical, soft, and entrepreneurial skills; prepare STEM faculty to incorporate students in research; and lead a multisector stakeholder engagement process to improve STEM-related higher education policy and linkages between STEM education and economic growth. 

Photo of farm fields in Malawi
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