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