Initial Publication Date: April 10, 2020

Work with and support faculty

This page was developed by Michelle Conley (Santa Rosa Junior College), Erin Dolan (University of Georgia), and George Ude (Bowie State University).

CUREs, like many teaching changes, are more sustainable when the people involved in implementing are interested, motivated, and supported. Faculty will differ in their initial levels of interest, and CURE initiatives should focus on supporting and fostering interested faculty rather than trying to convince or coax reluctant faculty to get involved. Faculty will need different kinds of support depending on their institutional context. As the success of the CURE grows, sharing it with other faculty can help build interest.

Start by working with interested faculty

Faculty involvement in teaching and directing the research is critical to a CURE. Early CURE efforts should not pressure or attempt to cajole uninterested faculty to get involved, but rather work with and support those who are interested. Over time, the success of the CURE will build interest among more faculty. For faculty to become interested in a CURE, they have to become aware that CURE instruction is a way of approaching laboratory or practical education and they have to learn enough about why and how to implement CUREs to make an informed decision about whether to do so themselves. Different CURE initiatives have approached the challenge of building awareness and knowledge about CUREs among faculty using a variety of strategies. One avenue for increasing awareness is to support faculty in attending meetings where they can learn about CUREs, participate in CURE professional development, and network with faculty developing and teaching CUREs. These kinds of meetings can build faculty awareness and knowledge that helps them make an informed choice about whether and how to teach a CURE. One option is to join the CUREnet community or participate in a CURE Institute.

There are a wide variety of avenues that CURE initiatives have used to advertise their CURE and recruit interested faculty. Reaching faculty on your own campus can be done through departmental emails, faculty meetings, campus centers for teaching and learning, or professional development days.

Santa Rosa Junior College got CUREs on their campus started with introductory sessions during campus-wide professional development days. They followed this with offering more intensive professional development sessions for interested faculty.
California State University - Sacramento faculty have been recruited using several methods. A core group of faculty were attending informal meetings to discuss Vision and Change when discussions about building more research-based curriculum started. Emails were used to arrange face-to-face meetings to gauge interest and discuss logistics of implementing CURES. Data related to undergraduate research participation and results from a pilot CURE were shared with faculty during the recruitment process. Regular meetings through a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) helped to promote participation and motivation.
Vertically Integrated Projects programs at various universities tend to spread by faculty interaction and word of mouth. Often, directors of the VIP programs make presentations at faculty meetings and to chairs and deans. It is better to have a small group of highly committed faculty than a larger group of less engaged faculty.

For multi-institutional CUREs, reaching faculty at other campuses can be accomplished during professional society meetings and through email lists.

The Prevalence of Antibiotic Resistance in the Environment program recruited new faculty by advertising on email lists and promoting at the American Society for Microbiology Conference on Undergraduate Education. Seed funding was given to incentivize participation, but this did not appear to be a large driver. Only about 50% of faculty actually submitted receipts for reimbursement of their start-up costs. Rather, faculty have been largely self-motivated to participate.
BASIL's initial recruitment of faculty was accomplished through personal relationships. The next phase of recruiting happened as a poster presentation at the 2014 American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology meeting, which was an unabashed recruiting poster. Following that, additional faculty adopted the curriculum based on word of mouth, additional presentations at national meetings, and publications.
Faculty were recruited to the Genomics Education Project by presentations at professional conferences and word-of-mouth. Buy-in was achieved, in part, by establishing at the outset that, if a faculty member participated in GEP training, they were making a commitment to teach with GEP curricula.

Support faculty with professional development, mentorship, and networking

Once faculty decide to teach a CURE, select an existing CURE to teach, or develop their own CURE to teach, they need opportunities to network with other CURE instructors and get guidance and feedback as they learn to navigate the unique opportunities and challenges of teaching a CURE. Networking and mentorship can be supported in a variety of ways, within or across departments and within or across institutions. Mentorship and networking can be formalized or occur more informally.

Professional development should have learning goals and include tasks that help faculty achieve the goals. Professional development often precedes teaching a CURE and can continue to support further faculty development over time. One common form of faculty professional development is Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs). FLCs are a formal structure for professional development, yet have a lot of flexibility for implementation.

Faculty involved in the Genomics Education Partnership are trained during an in-person, three- to five-day workshop or using online faculty mentoring networks through QUBES.
The VIP program works with faculty professional development groups on campus to streamline the on-boarding process for new instructors and ongoing professional development support for all instructors. The group developed custom programs (e.g., round-table discussion, panels, faculty learning communities). These have been an asset to the program in understanding what faculty need and to the faculty, who benefit from the additional support.

Mentorship is more individualized to the faculty member who is being mentored, providing them with guidance, advice, and support tailored to their specific needs as they teach the CURE. Peer mentoring among faculty, when experienced CURE instructors provide guidance and support to instructors who are comparatively new to teaching a CURE, is one approach to supporting new CURE instructors.

Biochemistry Authentic Scientific Inquiry Lab (BASIL) funded sabbaticals for two of the core team faculty members to be mentored by other faculty with needed expertise.
In the Freshman Research Initiative at UT Austin, new Research Educators for the CUREs are paired with veterans within their discipline. Because much of the CURE format is discipline-specific, we've found that this helps give new instructional faculty the specific help they need as well as a point-person to reach out to for all concerns. In the ideal case, the "mentor" and "mentee" have CUREs that share a physical lab space, which helps to ease the "start-up" phase of a new CURE.

Networking is the least formal and most flexible avenue for idea exchanges, resource sharing, and learning. Being part of a group can be an incentive for faculty, especially for faculty who are isolated at their own institutions.

Faculty in the Genomics Education Partnership attend annual "alumni workshops" that help them to feel connected to the other members of the community while keeping their knowledge of the science and the curriculum current.

Provide flexible forms of support to faculty

Different faculty at different institution types will need different resources, supports, and incentives. For instance, at teaching-intensive institutions, course buyout or release time is critical for faculty to have the time and energy to develop and implement a CURE for the first several offerings. Problems and challenges will arise that will need to be addressed and the CURE will need to be developed further before it can run with some level of consistency. Once faculty work out the kinks, then the CURE can become part of a standard teaching load. The amount of time needed for the development and initial implementation may vary depending on institutional context. Often, release time for just one semester is not sufficient.

VIP at Georgia Tech found that for faculty, the first two years offered little if any payoff. Georgia tech provides regular course buy-out for their faculty mentors, but not all schools are able to provide this.
Santa Rosa Junior College provided one semester of course release for instructors to develop and plan a CURE. However, they found that one semester was insufficient because many time-consuming issues were encountered during early implementations.

Release time may not be realistic at research-intensive institutions where course loads are already low. In these cases, support can come in the form of having others assist the faculty with a range of tasks, such as taking care of administrative tasks, time-consuming logistical or preparation work, training and mentoring students, and teaching the CURE. Support staff are critical for making faculty's lives easier by taking care of administrative tasks, such as managing grants. These types of positions can be supported with course buyout.

The Vertically Integrated Projects program utilizes a team structure where experienced students who have been working on the project for a few semesters step into leadership positions. They take on some of the work of mentoring and training newer students on the team, which eases some of the mentoring work for the faculty team lead. Additionally, when an institution has at least 10 VIP teams, the organization recommends having a site director who can take on many of the logistical tasks to ease the burden on the faculty.
Some CUREs have been structured to capitalize on the existing expertise of more experienced undergraduate students or alumni of the CURE to ease the burden on the faculty. The Cell Biology Education Consortium recruits outstanding students in the course to become peer instructors in future semesters. This greatly reduces time faculty spend preparing for labs and provides critical assistance to students during labs.
For the Freshman Research Initiative, UT Austin has created an entirely new type of position. The Researcher Educators are dedicated non-tenure track (NTT) faculty who are hired to work with the tenured/tenure-track faculty principal investigator (PI). These faculty are the boots-on-the-ground support who run the CURE and the PI helps guide the overall research goals as an extension of their research group. This approach suits large, research-intensive institutions that may have research faculty with high interest, but low teaching responsibilities.
Support in the form of student time can be very valuable. At Santa Rosa Junior College, students were paid to help faculty with pilot testing methods, developing protocols, developing marketing materials, etc.
The Sustainable Interdisciplinary Research to Inspire Success program has provided support for faculty (language, data, letters of support) to leverage the SIRIUS project and their involvement in their own funding efforts. For example, A National Institutes of Health Instrumentation grant was garnered for equipment that is used by both faculty labs and CUREs. Additionally, PIs of the SIRIUS Project write letters of support for participating faculty for their retention, tenure, and promotion, nominate faculty for awards (e.g., Institutional Exceptional Teaching Award), and support faculty in using their SIRIUS participation as leverage for pursuing other funding and grants.

Share successes

CUREs that have been sustained over time have developed robust marketing and communications strategies that help to create an environment supportive for faculty teaching CUREs. These strategies should support faculty by helping them frame their CURE work to meet expectations for promotion and tenure. Nominating them for teaching awards or highlighting their CURE instruction in letters can help highlight the pedagogical importance of their work. Additionally, for faculty with scholarly expectations for promotion and tenure, the CUREs can help them make progress in their research and outstanding students from the CUREs can sometimes be recruited as research interns in their labs. It can also help to show faculty how CUREs offer the opportunity to broaden participation in their research and improve their chances of funding success (e.g., from the National Science Foundation or Howard Hughes Medical Institute).

Successful marketing and communications take into account when, where, and how to market to different stakeholders. Communications and marketing should be tailored to the diverse stakeholders of CURE instruction. CURE stakeholders include students, faculty, administrators, funders, corporate partners, and private donors. Each cares about different results and different stories or narratives related to CURE success. For instance, students may want to know that they are developing employable or otherwise marketable skills. Faculty may want to know that developing a CURE will be worth their time and effort and is actually feasible. They want to know how it will help them teach well, accomplish research, or otherwise meet expectations for merit review, promotion, tenure, and employability. They may not believe that students can do publishable work, so sharing stories of student contributions to research can help convince them. Administrators may want to know that CUREs will increase student retention and success and is aligned with establish curricula and department and institutional mission. Funders, corporate partners, and private donors want to know that the work fits their mission, goals, and review criteria. Sometimes this requires preliminary results. Sometimes this requires building off and contributing to a relevant body of knowledge.

It is important to think about marketing early and often. Continue to beat the drum - one communication is not enough. Finally, make sure stories of success are tied to requests for resources and support.

VIP has had success leveraging growth in number of teams at an institution to secure course buyout for a site director.
The Cell Biology Education Consortium has written articles for the local and university newspaper about their CURE projects and has been featured in campus and local news stories. Currently, they are trying to incorporate what they do into social media.
BASIL did a poster presentation at the 2014 ASBMB meeting, as well as additional presentations at national meetings, and publications. Individual faculty have spearheaded a publicity campaign for the BASIL project on their institutional websites and alumni magazines.