STEM Education Center Toolkit
About the ToolkitThere are as many ways of organizing the activities and people of a center as there are centers. But that doesn't mean that there aren't some common lessons to be learned. Each section of the Toolkit draws on the real experiences of centers to illuminate guidance and best practices in a particular area of activity.
Communicating Vision and Mission
Time spent developing vision and mission statements is an investment in success, but being able to communicate that vision and mission is just as important.
There are as many ways of organizing the activities and people of a center as there are centers. But that doesn't mean that there aren't lessons to be learned.
Funding and Resources
There are multiple, interconnected parts to funding and supporting center activities. Each is important and needs to be understood in terms of how all of them play together as a system.
Evaluation and Assessment
It is critical to develop and execute a plan to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of a center's programming and activities. Short and long term evaluation will help you to adjust your programming to best suit the needs of your stakeholders.
Regardless of size, scale, or mission and vision, all STEM centers require strong and diverse partnerships for success.
With the right communication strategies, every STEM Center can effectively communicate with its network about its importance, programs, participant support, and policy impact.
Our research examines the development of individual centers, including STEM Education Centers, SECs, and Centers for Teaching and Learning, CTLs, their functional and structural features, focusing on current areas of emphasis and impact, as situated within their institutional contexts. We gathered data across organizational levels seeking to understand the roles of Centers from varied perspectives: through STEM faculty and department chairs engaged with the Center, from the director and staff of the Center, as well as the perceived value of the Center by the upper administration. We also sought to identify the ways in which centers work together on their campuses to sustain, scale, and support undergraduate STEM education.
Many STEM disciplines have groups of researchers studying education issues in their own context, but now there is a growing movement to share expertise across these boundaries through the creation of networks of discipline-based education research (DBER) practitioners. NSEC asked the DBER community to share resources from within their discipline that may be of interest to others and these pages present listings of useful links and information.
The Collaborating at the Center report, written by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the POD Network in Higher Education, presents key recommendations on ways STEM Education Centers (SECs) and Centers for Teaching and Learning (CTLs) can work more closely to further national STEM education improvement efforts. The report is based on some of the key findings of 46 leaders from SECs and CTLs who gathered at a November 2015 workshop convened with support from the National Science Foundation.
Transformative Learning Networks: Guidelines and Insights for Netweavers provides insight from four learning networks on how their leadership manages the network, creates learning opportunities within the network, and leverages community participation to enact change within the network. The report's primary audience are the designers and members of learning networks in the improving STEM education space.
This inventory of statewide and regional STEM education networks in the United States is a resource for P-12 schools, higher education, business and industries, and other community stakeholders to advance collaboration, engagement, stakeholder support, and further understanding of best practices to sustain these partnerships.
Over the course of several workshops, the NSEC community has recognized areas where there is expertise available in the network that should be shared more widely. At the 2016 Workshop in San Antonio, participants synthesized guidance on these 5 topical areas from essays and stem center profiles submitted by network members. The sixth section on Communication Strategies was added after the 2018 working meeting.