National Science Foundation Funds NICE Professional Development Program for Bronx CUNY Faculty

Sarah L. Hoiland, Assistant Professor
Behavioral and Social Sciences


The Numeracy Infusion for College Educators (NICE) Program is a collaborative National Science Foundation (NSF) grant under the Division of Undergraduate Education’s (DUE) Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE). Hostos is the “home” institution and I am honored to be the principal investigator (PI) from the Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSS) Department and to share some information about the NICE Project with the Hostos familia.

The NICE Program is an expansion of my co-PIs NSF-funded Numeracy Infusion Course for Higher Education (NICHE). Dr. Esther Isabelle Wilder is a Professor of Sociology at Lehman College and is known nationally for her 10+ years working with CUNY faculty to share best practices for infusing quantitative reasoning and quantitative literacy (QR/QL) in their courses. I came to know Esther through our mutual interests in improving CUNY students’ QR skills, and together we transformed NICHE into NICE, focusing on CUNY faculty in the Bronx.  We submitted it on May 31, 2016 and received informal notification in November of 2016 that our proposal would be funded and the official award letter arrived in January 2017.

Spring 2017 consisted of recruiting faculty from Hostos Community College, Bronx Community College (BCC), and Lehman College to be part of the two cohorts of the NICE Program. Dozens of applications were submitted and a competitive selection process followed to select participants who could commit to disseminating the Critical Assessment Test (CAT) during Spring 2017, participating in 2-day in-person workshops, completing all NICE course material (8 Blackboard instructional units), and presenting their work at the NICE Capstone Conference in June 2018.

            The problems surrounding “innumeracy” have been well documented and the disparate impact on minorities is not only cited in research but is felt in our classrooms and in our communities. Two CUNY sociologists, one a quantitative researcher (Esther) and one a qualitative ethnographer (myself), think that providing faculty (both STEM and non-STEM) with tools through the NICE Program will have a ripple effect and result in real QR learning gains for CUNY students.

The NICE Team includes our QR Fellow and administrative guru Dr. Rebecca West who hails from the Psychology Department at Lehman College. Our own Dr. Kate Wolfe from Behavioral and Social Sciences is a Program Associate along with Dr. Frank Wang from the Mathematics Department at LaGuardia Community College and Dr. Laura Broughton from the Biological Sciences Department at BCC.

            Faculty participants in the 2017 NICE Summer Cohort included the following illustrious Hostos faculty:  Sandy Figueroa (Business/ Office Technology), Diana Macri (Allied Health), and Kathleen Ronca (Allied Health/ Nursing). Kate Wolfe and I were both facilitators and participants in the summer cohort. Faculty representing Lehman included Elise Brown (Sociology), Dana Fenton (Sociology), and Nikola Lakic (Mathematics and Computer Science). Rounding out the cohort from BCC were Sibongile Mhlaba (History), Harini Mittal (Business and Information Systems), David Puglia, (English), Monika Sikand (Engineering Physics and Technology), and Sharon Utakis (English). We were also pleased to welcome Laura Pannaman, Biology, New Jersey City University (NJCU) and Co-Chair of the Quantitative Literacy Across the Curriculum (QLAC) Initiative at NJCU to the NICE summer cohort.

Hostos faculty participants in the 2017-2018 NICE Cohort include the following strongholds:  Cynthia Jones (English), Felipe Pimentel (Behavioral and Social Sciences), Tanvir Prince (Mathematics), Nelson Nunez-Rodriguez (Chemistry/Natural Sciences), and Alisa Roost (Visual and Performing Arts). Lehman College faculty includes Sandra Campeanu (Psychology), Anne Marie Marshall (Early Childhood and Childhood Education), and Rosa L. Rivera-McCutchen (Counseling, Leadership, Literacy & Special Education). Adijat Adebola (Biological Sciences), Minkyung Choi (Education and Academic Literacy), Tonya Johnson (Education and Academic Literacy), Emalinda McSpadden (Psychology/Social Sciences), Crystal C. Rodriguez, (Social Sciences), and Enyuan Shang (Biological Sciences) from BCC round out the academic year cohort.

Congratulations to the summer cohort for finishing the rigorous program requirements and the NICE Team looks forward to another productive and generative cohort with the academic year participants! We look forward to disseminating components of NICE to all Hostos faculty through the Hostos Center for Teaching and Learning.

Additional Resources

Wolfe, K.S., & S. Hoiland. (2017). Measuring numeracy in a community college context:  Assessing the reliability of the Subjective Numeracy Scale. Numeracy 10, Iss. 2.: Article 6. DOI:


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