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Dr. Hector Torres Receives $350,000 National Science Foundation Award

B-CU Professor, Dr. Hector Torres, Develops Competitive Proposal for STEM Research Initiative
Associate Professor Dr. Hector Torres recently received a $350,000 grant award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF grant was awarded for three years and will focus on investigative research on how to produce STEM graduates through argumentative expertise, evidence-based reasoning and intervention.

Dr. Torres and academic peers, Dr. Raphael Isokpehi, Dr. Claudette McFadden, and Dr. Ahkinyala Cob-Abdullah, will be assisting on the grant project and will work with students in environmental science and biology courses to garner research findings. “The proposed Broadening Participation Research (BPR) will expand the scientific literacy research at Bethune-Cookman University beyond the science curriculum. Our premise is that the Socio-Scientific Issues (SSI) framework for scientific literacy development requires students to engage in dialogue, discussion, debate and argumentation, said Torres.

The project is also supported by the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP). HBCU-UP advocates for underrepresented demographics and supports innovative STEM research. “The process of scientific argumentation is critical to the advancement of sound scientific knowledge claims because it involves critiquing the conceptual products, the methods used for collecting data, and the analytical procedures used to coordinate the data and subsequent knowledge claim. A key reason for this focus is that argumentation will empower students from distinguishing claims made on scientific grounds from those based solely on tradition and authority,” Torres explained.

CSEM faculty and staff plan to implement scientific argumentation into their courses to engage students in an innovative way. Educators will develop new curricula and incorporate new equipment that will enhance the learning environment to support the research. According to Torres, this project will give students more opportunities to construct and critique explanations or arguments of a natural phenomenon as part of the inquiry process. Empirical research suggests that these approaches not only improve students’ abilities to develop and critique arguments, but also enhance conceptual understanding.

Dr. Torres will be representing B-CU CSEM at the 2016 Noyce Summit on Stimulating Research in Preservice Education of STEM Teachers in High-Need Schools in Washington DC and the NSF Noyce Program workshop in Baltimore, M.D.

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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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