This Research Action Cluster centered on collaborative course transformation as a driver for widespread faculty uptake of student-centered teaching practices. It has supported two multi-institutional projects: one on the reform of undergraduate STEM courses and the other on humanities courses.
University of British Columbia
Indiana University Bloomington
University of California Davis
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Texas at San Antonio
Supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (2015-2022), this project implemented and evaluated a model to promote improved STEM education at seven research universities. It built on the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at UBC and CU in which STEM Education experts (postdoctoral scholars) were embedded in departments to collaborate with faculty on course transformation to enhance student learning. TRESTLE tested an adaptation of that model that required significantly fewer resources (including fewer experts in a given department) by building communities of scholars around course transformation to amplify the effects of the embedded experts, and by making transformed teaching, and improved student learning, visible. Each institution tested a model with three core components, with local adaptations:
- Embed experts in departments to catalyze and support course transformation
- Build intellectual communities around course transformation, within and across departments, and across universities (the TRESTLE network)
- Generate evidence of impact and make it visible within the communities
The network held in-person meetings once a year throughout the intervention phase (Fall 2015 through Spring 2019) bringing together embedded experts, faculty, and project leaders to foster exchange of strategies and results, social connections, and opportunities for collaboration with peers outside one’s own institution. Regular virtual network meetings were also organized around topics or questions of shared interest.
The initiative’s impact was tracked through multiple measures including a faculty survey of teaching practices, attitudes, and climate, classroom observation with the COPUS, tracking of student successful course completion, and case studies of four selected departments before, during, and after the conclusion of the intervention.
The results provide convergent evidence that TRESTLE’s lower cost adaptation of the embedded-expert model, with its added emphasis on multi-level community building and making faculty work on course transformation public, is effective in promoting widespread faculty adoption of evidence-based, inclusive teaching practices that those practices are promoting improved student success. They have also yielded insights into the institutional change process itself.
Andrea Follmer Greenhoot
Collaborative Humanities Redesign Program (CHRP)*
Supported by a grant from the Teagle Foundation from 2014 to 2017, KU partnered with three liberal arts institutions to promote and evaluate active and engaged learning in humanities courses. The leadership team created a network of 24 faculty participants across the four campuses. The group convened for all-project meetings at the beginning of each project year. The teams on each campus met 2-3 times each semester, identifying challenges and innovations to address those learning challenges. Participants also engaged across campuses through online meetings organized around shared interests, and through course portfolio review. Each participant drafted a benchmark record of a target course, applied innovations and evaluated the impact on student learning, and captured that work in a course portfolio. In the final year they worked on implementing, evaluating, and documenting a second wave of innovations. The BVA survey of teaching practices and attitudes, along with analysis of the course portfolios, were being used to track the effects of this initiative.
Work from the CHRP community was featured in a capstone conference, open to participants from any institution, June 8-10, 2017 in Kansas City: (Re)Imagining Humanities Teaching: Innovations in Course Design. Plenary speakers included BVA senior scholar, Pat Hutchings. See the CHRP website for more information and to access faculty portfolios.
Andrea Follmer Greenhoot