This complete research-based paper explores a successful faculty development program aimed at increasing awareness and use of evidence-based pedagogical strategies among engineering faculty across multiple disciplines. Research demonstrates that student-centered, or active learning, strategies promote greater student learning and achievement. Despite this evidence, however, the majority of engineering faculty still employ teacher-centered strategies, or the traditional lecture method, in their classrooms. Therefore, there is a strong need for professional development to increase faculty awareness and use of student-centered teaching strategies.
The setting for this professional development program, which is funded through NSF’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program, is a large, public university in the southwestern United States. The program is entitled, “Just-in-Time-Teaching with Two Way Formative Feedback for Multiple Disciplines (JTFD)”. This large-scale program utilizes a train-the-trainer model, where two people from seven different engineering disciplines were recruited to become disciplinary leader pairs (DLPs). The DLPs go through the program under the direction of the project leaders/PIs. Then the following year, the DLPs become the “trainers,” where they lead their own disciplinary workshops and community of practice sessions for a group of faculty, ranging from 8 to 15 people. The program consists of 8 biweekly workshops, which covers Bloom’s taxonomy, learning objectives, interactive classes, active and cooperative learning, muddiest points, tech tools, and fostering inclusive learning environments. The following semester, faculty participate in semi-structured Community of Practice (CoP) sessions to discuss challenges and successes of implementing active learning strategies and to share ideas. There were two year-long cohorts which totaled 80 faculty who completed the program. In this paper, we discuss the creation and scaling of the program. In particular, we describe the structure and management of the program, strategies and topics covered, assessment/evaluation, and key takeaways.
The professional development program was evaluated through multiple methods, including surveys from faculty, classroom observations, and student achievement data. Data collection and instruments are discussed in greater detail in the paper. Key highlights include a 13% increase in average use of active learning strategies by faculty after participating in the program. There was also an average increase of 34% in use of formative feedback pedagogical practices after the program. Classroom observations were conducted on all faculty using the Reformed Teaching Observational Protocol (RTOP) instrument and showed an average shift of 7% from instructor-centered teaching practice toward student-centered learning practice. 100% of the faculty participants reported that the JTFD program would be valuable to future instructional practice and career success. All of the faculty also reported that they would recommend or strongly recommend this professional development program to their colleagues. A full discussion of the program evaluation is presented in the paper.
This paper describes the creation and scaling, structure and implementation, and assessment of a large-scale, successful professional development program. Full results of program evaluation and data will be presented in the final paper. Additionally, links to all program materials, such as workshops, readings, CoP guides, and assessments, are included in the paper. We will conclude by discussing key takeaways and lessons learned from the professional development program.
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