An Inexpensive, Faculty-led School-Wide Undergraduate Course Transformation

Wednesday 3:30pm Weeks Geo: AB20
Oral Presentation


Barbara Bruno, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Sarah Bean Sherman, University of British Columbia
Sara Harris, University of British Columbia
Efforts to fundamentally transform undergraduate geoscience instruction at a school-wide level are generally institutionally driven and supported. For example, the Carl Weiman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI), which transformed science education at University of Colorado and University of British Colombia, employs numerous Ph.D.-level Science Teaching and Learning Fellows to work one-on-one with faculty to improve pedagogy. The SEI model involves redesigning courses based on learner-centered approaches that have been shown to produce significant learning gains. The program has been highly successful, but the cost is prohibitive for most universities to adopt.

Here, we describe a nascent faculty-led effort to invoke many aspects of the CWSEI model at a much lower cost at the University of Hawaii (UH). Thirty faculty across the ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences have signed up to date. Rather than employing Science Teaching and Learning Fellows to support faculty, we place a larger responsibility on faculty to support each other through cooperative learning communities. A modest grant from the NSF Improving Undergraduate Science Education (IUSE) Geopaths program will be used to bring in CWSEI coaches from UBC. Their role is to share a range of proven instructional and assessment strategies, and to train faculty in their use. A key premise is that it is the geoscience faculty who are responsible for designing, implementing and evaluating an educational research experiment of their own choosing. The instructors are the experimenters, not the subjects of an SEI-led experiment.

This project is not only evidence-based, but evidence-generating. At UH, we have a rare opportunity to generate a solid picture of the state of teaching and student learning before any transformation takes place, which will contribute to the body of literature on the efficacy of course transformation. Results from specific course transformations will contribute to the literature on effective learning within sub-disciplines, such as geology and oceanography.

Presentation Media

PPT slides for Bruno et al talk (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 5MB Jul18 16)