Center for Advancing Science Teaching, Learning, & Evaluation
College of Science, Rochester Institute of Technology
Profile submitted by Scott Franklin
Vision and Goals
- To create and nurture a broad community of faculty, administrators, and staff interested in STEM education and pedagogy, raising the level of discourse about evidence-based practices, the growing body of literature on STEM education, and rigorous methods of assessment and evaluation.
- To establish a robust and sustainable infrastructure of institutional support that transforms STEM educational practices, supports discipline-based education research, and promotes K20 faculty recruitment, preparation, professional development, and outreach.
- To foster innovations in STEM education by integrating an interdisciplinary community of scholars, promoting, sustaining, and evaluating reform efforts, advocating for diversity and access, influencing relevant policy, fundraising, and communicating with the public.
CASTLE is an umbrella organization that brings together a variety of STEM education initiatives. CASTLE currently has a faculty director, 3 faculty associate directors (each in charge of a separate initiative), and 6 core research faculty (3 physics, 2 biology, and 1 chemistry). A key reason for the CASTLE's creation was to facilitate collaboration across initiatives, bringing together, for example, faculty interested in course development with those whose research is on assessment and evaluation. Seeking external funding is expected from all CASTLE projects.
CASTLE is currently hiring a full-time program coordinator, with external and institute funding that guarantees the position for at least 3 years.
Description of Programming
CASTLE supports a vigorous discipline-based education research group: The Science & Math Education Research Collaborative (SMERC). Faculty from departments of physics, biology, and chemistry conduct rigorous research on issues involving postsecondary student performance within a scientific discipline. SMERC members have established a track record of peer-reviewed publications and external funding.
The Center hosts an NSF Noyce funded Learning Assistant (LA) program that recruits the next generation of STEM teachers. By working with faculty as they restructure their classrooms, LAs also foster change in the College pedagogical environment. The Center also houses a Toyota Foundation supported Summer Math Institute for in-service high school math instructors
Successes and Impacts
Each Center initiative has its own success story. The education research collaborative has significantly improved the tenure portfolios of three faculty. The Summer Math Institute annually brings 30 secondary math instructors to campus for professional development. The Learning Assistant program places approximately 16 students each semester in STEM courses.
Elements Contributing to Success
Individual initiatives benefited tremendously from early and sustained College of Science support. The Center now receives institutional support in the form of 20% of all recovered overhead and additional staff assistance.