Creating Inclusive and Engaging Science Classrooms: Faculty Development is Key

Thursday 1:45pm Northrop Hall: 340


Shane Spivey, Red Rocks Community College
Barbra Sobhani, University of Colorado at Boulder
Community college science departments have a unique opportunity to approach faculty development in an interdisciplinary manner. A challenge to moving the department forward as whole is the number of foundational courses that are taught by adjunct faculty. Professional development is critical for supporting continuous faculty growth, but it is often not well supported in the community college environment. With grant support and SERC materials, we have introduced a series of workshops for all of the science faculty around the focus of creating inclusive and innovative classrooms in order to increase retention across the STEM disciplines. Elements of the workshops include active learning, cultural competency, research-based classroom strategies for engagement, and improving communication between faculty and students. Faculty are also encouraged to participate in the InTeGrate webinar series, and to implement the InTeGrate modules across the science department. In addition to these strategies, our department has developed a program to foster peer learning and an exchange of ideas among the faculty, and to encourage classroom innovation. Called the STEM Collective, the long-term goal of this project is to establish an ongoing dialogue where everyone can contribute ideas and experiences, test new teaching strategies, and solicit feedback from the group. As part of the program, adjunct faculty are encouraged to observe full-time faculty who are using active teaching methods in the classroom. Each instructor then develops an action plan to introduce an innovation into their own classroom, and to assess its overall effectiveness. As a whole, the goal of these professional development efforts is to improve teaching and learning and the overall student experience in science. More inclusive and engaging classrooms increase retention and promote expanding diversity in STEM.