Workshop on Engaging Faculty

This workshop has already happened

With the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities convened campus teams from a select number of institutions to focus on the challenges and opportunities for engaging physics and chemistry departments in upper division course reform and faculty change. By focusing on upper division course reform, the purpose was to engage traditional line and senior faculty within a department who may not otherwise be engaged in the STEM education transformation effort, which has focused on the first two years of undergraduate instruction and often leverages other teaching faculty within a department.

The Workshop was held on June 4-5, 2015 at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. The Workshop builds on a past funded project by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the STEM Education Centers: A National Discussion. The report (Riordan, 2014) from that project summarizes initial findings about the structures and challenges of entities that self-identify as STEM education centers. APLU funded the follow-on STEM Education Center Workshop in October 2014.


Resources exist that can assist faculty in upper division transformation, but current dissemination and implementation models have been insufficient for engaging the majority of faculty, especially for upper division course reform. The broader aim of this project is to test a model of how to engage faculty teaching in upper division courses, provide resources, seed potential change on up to ten campuses nationally, and develop community (both within a given campus and across campuses).

Stimulating Action on Campuses

We are testing a model of change that includes the following as it key features:

  • Requiring a campus team of three or more members of critical personnel
    • The application had to come from the physics or chemistry department chair
    • The team had to include a center director, senior faculty, department chair, and someone with access to funds (dean, associate provost, provost)
  • Eliciting critical information via pre-workshop surveys that highlight promising practices across this community, challenges/barriers, and possible metrics for measuring progress
  • Hosting a workshop that provides
    • Experts in STEM education transformation as facilitators and resource experts
    • Dedicated time away from campus to meet with their team to work on a focused problem
    • Time for cross-institutional learning
    • An expectation for an action plan by the end of the day that would have some follow-up
  • Requiring post-workshop activities that include
    • Convening an on-campus symposium or workshop on resources for improving undergraduate education
    • Convening a group discussion with department on thoughts about the meeting and to share their draft work plan
    • Submitting for a panel discussion or presentation at one external disciplinary or higher education association meeting
    • Participating in a follow-up conversation about progress made in November 2015

Selected Teams

Boise State University

Florida International University

Oregon State University

Rochester Institute of Technology

University of California, Irvine

University of Florida

University of Georgia

University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Wayne State University

Preliminary Results

From the post-workshop survey, we had a response rate of 63%. The participants of the survey were university administrator (37%), department chair (26%), physics faculty (22%), chemistry faculty (19%), STEM education center administrator (15%), and facilitator/guest (7%). Respondents were able to choose more than one role at the university.

Almost all participants (96%) would recommend this Workshop to their colleagues. They rated this workshop compared to others as excellent (43%), very good (43%), and average (13%). They were most satisfied with the team working time (3.93 on a 1-4 scale; 4 being very satisfied). They felt it was very valuable to have dedicated time away from campus to meet with their team to work on a focused problem, to have facilitation with change experts, have a range of approaches by different institutions, range of roles at the Workshop, and an expectation for an action plan by the end of the day that would have some follow-up.

The trend in participants' responses was that they would have liked more team working time and networking time and less time spent on tools/resources and doing a pair share with another team.

Post-Workshop Activities

  • In August, we asked teams for an update on progress to include in letters to their senior leadership. Six of ten teams provided that update.
  • In November, we asked participants about post-workshop activities and if they felt they were helpful in stimulating change on their campus.
  • In December 2015 or January 2016, we will release a workshop report.
  • In June 2016, representatives from the campus teams will be invited to the 2016 centers' conference for an update on their progress and what they learned about engaging faculty on their campus.
  • If there is sufficient interest from this cohort of teams, we will facilitate the development of a Research Action Cluster model that can continue multi-institution work.

Workshop Organizers

Noah Finkelstein, Professor of Physics; Director of the Center for STEM Learning; and President's Teaching Scholar, University of Colorado Boulder; and Kacy Redd, Director of Science and Mathematics Education Policy, APLU

Workshop Keynote Speakers

Susan R. Singer, Division Director for Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation and the Laurence McKinley Gould Professor, in the Biology and Cognitive Science Departments at Carleton College; and Elizabeth S. Boylan, Program Director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Workshop Support

Support was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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