We describe the implementation of an NSF-IUSE project to improve STEM education at a large research intensive public institution. The specific goals of the project are (1) to change the culture within STEM departments of a large research institution so as to value a balance between teaching and research and (2) to increase student learning and retention by incentivizing faculty and graduate students to apply evidenced-based teaching (EBT) methods in their teaching. Synergistic thrusts have been developed to meet these goals and include:
(1) Expediting adoption of EBT methods. Graduate students assigned to laboratory classes are provided training in EBT strategies. Faculty are selected to participate in a peer observation program so that they may observe the use of EBT by their colleagues. Faculty are provided funds to travel to education-related conferences to learn about EBT. Selected faculty receive support that provides the time and guidance to modify their courses by increasing use of EBT. Awards are given yearly to several faculty who have demonstrated excellence in applying EBT in their courses.
(2) Bridges to our feeder institution and support for transfer students. Students who have transferred to the university from a large feeder community college may serve as peer advisors – who mentor and guide new transfer students through the process of becoming a member of the university community. Faculty from the university and community college meet to align STEM courses that are offered at both institutions.
(3) Interdisciplinary and departmental retreats. Departmental retreats help departments examine and update their curricula and introduce faculty to EBT methods. Interdisciplinary retreats bring together faculty from different departments (and even different colleges and institutions) to examine how their courses can support each other.
(4) Institutional policies and facilities. Project personnel (a) advocate to university administration for classrooms that support EBT, (b) report existing policies that hinder student success and propose new policies that will enhance student success to appropriate university councils, and (c) are members of a newly formed university council charged with updating the assessment of teaching.
(5) Building momentum for change. A seminar series sponsored by the project features speakers who disseminate current knowledge to STEM faculty, college and department advisors, graduate students, and university administrators. Topics focus on institutional change, EBT methods, and best practices in STEM education. A member of the project leadership team, supported by other project personnel, leads a series of provost-instituted workshops/summits on STEM education.
This presentation provides details about these thrusts, including number of faculty and students impacted and feedback received from participants. In addition, we discuss challenges and lessons learned and how they have guided changes made to the program.
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