Using Communication: Increasing Visibility of Centers' Importance on Campus
This page was developed as a synthesis of lessons learned by participants during an NSEC working meeting and is part of an extended set of toolkits for STEM Education Centers.
- Demonstrate the importance and utility of the center through compelling data and personal stories aligned with campus constituents and stake holders Read on>>
- Sustainability - building structures to ensure longevity of these interaction through face to face, personal connections, and network development Read on>>
Demonstrate the importance and utility of the center through compelling data and personal stories aligned with campus constituents and stake holders
Importance and Utility through Compelling Data
Centers can act as knowledge hubs to gather, organize, synthesize and disseminate knowledge (policies are one example of potential knowledge) valuable to many stakeholders (faculty members, dean's, provosts, etc.). By understanding the knowledge and then using it to lead by example will increase the Centers' value and visibility. The ability to successfully translate the knowledge around your goal and communicate so all stakeholders can converse with each other leads to value gained and an enriched network.
UCLA created a document and web resource that describes and visually shows their impact with data. Read more>>
Addressing Faculty in STEM Centers can be centered around demonstrating the value of the Center for supporting faculty research, teaching, funding, and professional development. Visiting a department or faculty meeting is an opportunity to promote your Center and communicate the support it could provide or areas of potential collaboration. Some topics you may consider conveying is that the Center can:
- Help with receiving grants if the Center is focused or contains a component of supporting broader impacts efforts.
- Help make things easier for faculty and save them time
- Add value for junior faculty and enhance their tenure portfolio
- Provide resources and active learning materials - new pedagogy/material development
- Potential teaching positions focused on STEM Center efforts
- Valuing Discipline-based Education Research (e.g., dissemination of articles and materials) (read more>>)
- Boise State developed a one page handout distributed in faculty and department meetings.
- The SEIRI team at IUPUI created a Support Form to provide investigators with expectations for working with SEIRI
For example, MIT has created a Teaching with Digital Technology Award that demonstrates the value of their Digital Learning Lab that helps increase their visibility. Other options are to have "fellows" (or other honorific) associated with a Center to gain more visibility.
At the University of Colorado - Boulder, Chancellor's Awards were established to reward faculty and graduate student engagement in innovative research on student learning and implementation of research-based STEM education program initiatives. These awards have resulted in significant $$ in extramural funds to the university.
The Center for Science and Math Education at the University of Utah is establishing a faculty consortium for this purpose where recipients will receive a small but substantive funding contribution to a discretionary account for education activities/travel (in some cases, they can request funds on a per year basis to reimburse such expenses). Consortium membership will be at the invitation of the Director and requires at least 2 years of residency at the University and active/current involvement with the CSME.
Addressing Chairs/Deans/Administrators will focus on student success, alignment with institutional focus, and providing support for the needs of different departments, colleges, and across the institution. Administrators typically have limited time available, therefore creating concise but informative communication documents will efficiently convey a Center's story and utility. Linking data to your presentation will provide more impact and data could be in the form of student satisfaction surveys, quotes from former students/participants, grant awards, enrollment and retention numbers, or any other dataset that may be specific to your institution or question. Including data from the Center's home institution may be more powerful if the Center has existed long enough. Alternatively, connecting to the national patterns will also help provide broader context and support STEM Centers early in their development.
Topics to consider:
- Leverage institutional focus (research, grants, enrollment, and retention)
- Center programming/work can help students persist and succeed; e.g., Learning Assistant program.
- Student recruitment: student satisfaction survey data or quotes from former students/participants.
- Help departments understand what they might need and how you can help them
- Help develop or obtain better measures of teaching effectiveness
- Invite administrators to celebrations (e.g., STEM conferences, award announcements, open houses, etc.)
Importance and Utility Through Personal Stories
- Faculty testimonials - recorded interviews with faculty, posting choice quotes to put on advertisements, emails, fliers, etc.
- Student profiles that highlight the projects, work of the Center, and their impact on students' lives would be one example to utilize.
The Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Virginia produce videos with faculty on the impact of their Course Design Institute. Read more>>
The SEIRI team at IUPUI has recorded talks by invited speakers and made these recordings publicly available. Read more>>
For More on Organizational Structures In building a structure to ensure longevity, you will need your constituents to trust in what you do. You can build that authority with data, testimonials, and accomplishments, but there needs to be a system for future success and inclusion. For example, getting faculty involved in leadership structure will help the faculty view the Center with some sense of ownership and promote its use in their scholarship and teaching. Different layers of participation could also be implemented as new constituents become familiar and grow into greater leadership roles.
- Respect culture of departments/units and use the appropriate approach and use sensitivity to what they want/need
- Exit survey with students - what skills they think they need and what have the acquired - bring this survey data to faculty helps to learn culture of department and what they value (case study)
- Personal skills of directors and communication skills - empathy is critical - Do the faculty believe we understand what their life is like and what their stresses and goals are? Professional development in facilitation may help