CLEAR (Center for Learning, Education and Research in the Sciences)

History

Oberlin established the Center for Learning, Education, and Research in the Sciences (CLEAR) in 2012 through an award granted by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).  The center, akin to Oberlin’s Writing Center, aims to help natural science students strengthen their understanding of quantitative and formal reasoning skills by providing peer support for such basics as math and graphs, and advanced skills, such as modeling, which are common in different disciplines.

Logo of Howard Hughes Medical Institute

CLEAR has played a critical role in meeting the college's strategic goal of integrating quantitative analysis and data-informed reasoning into all majors and program at Oberlin. This goal is served by providing an ongoing source of support for faculty development, curriculum development, and quantitative and formal reasoning programming essential to sustaining a current and vital curriculum for students. CLEAR provides the spaces for students, staff, and faculty to acquire the ability to use tools, algorithms, or strategies to solve problems, make decisions, or evaluate evidence. Such skills are required in virtually all academic fields, are used in almost every profession, and are necessary for decision-making in everyday life.

The role of CLEAR on campus has grown each year as it has become more firmly integrated into the institutional goals of Oberlin. Beginning with the founding director, Marcelo Vinces, the center has provided more than just academic support for students. The center has been instrumental in establishing a sense of belonging for students across campus within STEM at Oberlin. This mission was continued with the second director, Nicolette Mitchell OC ‘13, who continued work began by Vinces and began coordinating programming for staff and faculty. Sabriya Rosemond, the current director of CLEAR, is excited to keep pushing this work forward with a greater focus on promoting equity, access, and resources for underrepresented students on campus.

Oberlin College became one of 24 colleges and universities nationwide awarded a $1 million grant through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)'s Inclusive Excellence initiative in 2017. The goal of Oberlin’s project is to promote persistence and success of all students in STEM fields by changing the ways the science community is built and science curriculum is delivered. To achieve these goals, the leadership team at Oberlin has utilized this grant to reflect and rethink how students experience STEM on campus. This is achieved through a variety of ways, most prominently through listening sessions, departmental action and response teams, and the creation of a new fellowship available to recent alumni.

Building on a series of listening sessions that brought together 120 individuals from 42 offices and departments to visualize an enhanced model for inclusion, faculty and staff from across the campus will form learning communities to advance inclusive excellence. Departmental teams will extend these efforts, implementing revised curricula focusing on introductory courses.

  • Student and faculty workshops 
  • Drop-in tutoring and OWLS peer mentoring 
  • Resource center for students and faculty interested in teaching, learning, or studying topics in the natural sciences or with Quantitative and Formal Reasoning (QFR) components  
  • Assessment of first-year students' quantitative literacy 
  • Support for faculty curricular development and programming 
  • Cosponsored programming/distribution of programming funds 
  • Distribution of curriculum development funds