The Network

Jump down to: Goals of the Network | Approach | Anticipated Outcomes | Broader Impacts

The network is an organization of campus-based centers and offices that will serve as a catalyst for broader national educational transformation in STEM, including research on teaching and learning STEM disciplines at all levels.

Coming together as a network will allow those interested in STEM education reform to have a central place for information and approaches appropriate for center leadership, administrators, state and national policymakers. We are building a network that brings together the work of individual centers to help solve common and challenging issues in STEM education reform: translating research into practices that will spread, be adapted, and sustained across a campus and across the academy. This network addresses calls from the White House (Olson & Riordan, 2012) and National Academies (Singer et al., 2012) for multi-institutional / nation-wide approaches to scaling STEM education reform. While the more than 150 offices of STEM education have a variety of structures and titles, this network involves campus units with research and faculty activities that focus on the transformation of undergraduate teaching and learning of STEM disciplines.

Goals of the Network

The network is a community of centers that helps address key needs of centers, university administrators, funders, policymakers, and national constituents. It supports centers' needs for community and networking; increased institutionalization of STEM education centers; sustainable funding; and resources, strategies, tools, and access to national discussions on supporting transformation of undergraduate STEM education. To increase institutionalization and legitimacy of these centers, the network will help them demonstrate their high value to university administration via rich cross-institutional learning; research on center impacts that support investments in these organizations; access to funders; and national recognition via their center's accomplishments. To support funders, policy-makers, and external constituents, we are leveraging the vast expertise of network members to help solve national challenges in education and implementing these solutions across the network. We seek to establish the network as the one-stop-shop for supporting transformation of undergraduate STEM education.

In particular, discussions and resources will focus on the following themes:

  • Retention and success: How are STEM education centers driving retention and success, especially in the first two years of undergraduate education?
  • Quality education: How are STEM education centers training and evaluating faculty teaching and shaping learning outcomes for STEM majors including STEM teachers?
  • Research and assessment: How are STEM education centers contributing to disciplinary based education research (DBER), evaluating student learning, and driving assessment to support STEM education improvements?
  • Partnerships beyond the university: How are STEM education centers partnering with K-12 schools, 2 and 4-year colleges and universities, and/or state networks (e.g. Battelle's STEMx), and industry.
  • Engaging Faculty: How are STEM education centers effectively engaging faculty? Is it through reform of upper division courses, outcomes for majors, benchmarking against peer departments, or other methods?
  • Broadening Participation: How are STEM education centers expanding access to and success in STEM education for students from under-represented communities?

Anticipated Outcomes

The broad array of potential outcomes from building the network include:

  • supporting individual centers by sharing resources, models, people, and awareness and recognition;
  • identifying the research, programmatic, and cultural challenges that STEM education centers are particularly well-positioned to undertake;
  • developing critical resources for proposed, nascent, and established centers, including searchable database of centers and directors/staff; communication resources for centers; indicators to evaluate projects within centers as well as the overall impact of centers; and best practices for collaboration with cross-campus and external stakeholders.
  • addressing the needs of university administration to identity the purpose and role of centers and their resource requirements to support the shifting needs of higher education;
  • establishing a dissemination pathway for findings throughout the network and beyond;
  • serving as a resource for external agencies interested in linking with center efforts or communicating with the STEM community;
  • promoting collective action to address larger scale challenges rather than university-specific efforts and serve as an action platform for advocacy and policy; and
  • developing a robust model of network formation, apply this to create community among STEM education centers, and enhance the capacity of individual centers to improve undergraduate STEM education.