CESE Collaboration Strategies

Jackie Bortiatynski, Penn State University

The PSU Center for Excellence in Science Education (CESE) was established in 2010 with a central mission to build and sustain collaborative teaching and learning communities. These communities seek to transform STEM educational practices in the Eberly College of Science (ECoS) and build a culture of scholarship of teaching and learning. To reach this mission we first focused of forming a steering committee and then expanded our communication to additional communities of practice (listed below):

Steering Committee: It was important that we established a steering committee that represented all ranks and departments, as the ECoS has over 450 faculty members. Before CESE, pockets of transformation had formed but there was limited collaboration between departments on these initiatives. We identified faculty who were leading departmental initiatives and then invited them to serve on a steering committee. Monthly meetings with steering committee members were held for 3 years to build strong relationships between faculty and to also launch a series of initiatives.

Administrative Members: We sought to meet with Department Heads and Assistant Heads or Undergraduate Education within the first six months of the launch of CESE. These meeting were critical to identify (and more importantly, not miss) key faculty members to serve on the steering committee. We continue to meet with this administrative group annually to share the progress of CESE initiatives, highlight the contributions of departmental faculty, and to thank faculty leadership for their continued support.

University Collaborators: Regular meetings were also scheduled with university teaching and learning centers as well as faculty in the College of Education to establish working relationships with faculty and researchers. Most recently, these collaborations have culminated in the development of teaching and learning summits that are co-organized by CESE, the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, and the Teaching and Learning with Technology at Penn State.

National Innovators: To build a culture of learning and teaching scholarship, national leaders in STEM education were identified and invited to share innovative strategies and information about national STEM education initiatives through seminars and workshops. CESE also partnered with departments in ECoS and other teaching and learning support units by providing matching monies to support the invitation of STEM education leaders.

CESE Workshop Team: A group of faculty members was established and annual teaching and learning workshops were presented that focused on educational topics of interest and also focused on introducing faculty to evidence-based teaching practices.

Learning Assistant (LA) Program: A LA program was established to support student-centered engagement in the classroom and peer-to-peer instruction outside the classroom. The pedagogy courses associated with this program have also been used to support graduate student, as well as faculty professional development by inviting these groups to attend class sessions.

Tombros Fellows: A fellowship was established to support faculty-led initiatives with broad impact across the ECoS. The funds were provided through an endowment. Faculty who express interest are mentored through the application process that is reviewed by the steering committee and Dean's Office and if approved supplemental funding is awarded. The fellow shares their project progress with the University's STEM teaching and learning community.