Sustain Change and Scale Up
Initiating a change effort is full of energy and excitement. Maintaining that momentum and institutionalizing the changes to continue after the initiating project has run its course is often a challenge, but this difficulty can be eased somewhat with early planning.
Making change happen whether at the course, program, or institutional level is a process. Based on the project's assessment and evaluation plan, it is important to have processes that support regular reflection on data monitoring progress and project health and to then implement changes in the project to improve the project and its programs, policies, and practices.
The project performed an NGSS Gap Analysis and used the results to inform recommendations for needed improvements to STEM teacher preparation programs in the state of Washington.
The initial model envisioned for training students about hazards and mitigation included a two week bulk infusion into courses in the curriculum. Based on feedback from project faculty, this was changed to 8 hours of training on "Awareness and education for community natural disaster mitigation and preparedness" broken out over two weekends per semester taught by two faculty from the InTeGrate team rotating every semester.
As change occurs, unexpected outcomes and emergent behaviors will lead to new opportunities and challenges. Having a plan and process in place to quickly respond to these opportunities and challenges is key to continuous program improvement and leveraging success.
The administration at Wittenberg saw the early successes of the team and wanted to expand on the efforts. The team was able to capitalize on this opportunity to engage more of campus in their efforts.
The success of Savannah's team has led their School of Teacher Education (SoTE) to collaborate with PI Ebanks to build a partnership that also includes the Oglethorpe Charter School administration and science teachers to tackle in-service training for middle-grade teachers who are often required to teach geoscience but whose formal preparation is in life sciences.
Over the course of our project, we learned about two parallel efforts in teacher preparation in Computer Science and Education for Sustainability. While our specific goals differ somewhat, our overarching goals are the same: improve teacher preparation programs to better prepare future teachers for the classroom of today and tomorrow. We expanded our work to include these two groups, aligning our vision to support collective impact.
As they communicated with their students about career opportunities and pathways in the geosciences, it became clear to the UIC team that many struggled finding information about geoscience careers. They took this opportunity to develop resources inside their course management system that the students access more regularly.
Celebrate progress when it happens. It takes many small successes to create significant change. Acknowledgement of these successes by Deans, Chairs, and colleagues will help to generate support for change and encourage others to participate in the change process
The collaborative, interdisciplinary work the Chico team has done on the Sustainability Pathway is being celebrated by the university administration and is being seen as model that others can emulate.
Faculty leaders and collaborators received Wittenberg's highest honors for Distinguished Teaching, Faculty Excellence, Community Service, and Sustainability. Students who assisted with community projects also received accolades for their work on local sustainability challenges.
Sustain Efforts Over Time
Capacity Building is key to sustaining change over time to ensure the human resources needed to continue work. This includes building leadership capacity among existing faculty and administrators to support project development, implementation and assessment. It also involves engaging new faculty and administrators in the change process. Redundancy in leadership capacity is essential to sustaining programming. Leaders will go on sabbatical, retire, leave, get tapped to administration.... So, just having one enthusiastic leader, even in a small project, probably isn't enough. Diversity in the leadership team can also provide stability by mitigating the impact of changes in workload or challenges arising in a specific department.
The work of the Savannah State team inspired the implementation of InTeGrate materials in additional courses beyond those that were initially planned.
Sustaining change can benefit from an infusion of new resources, but also requires the harnessing or leveraging of existing resources, programs, and data to enable institutionalization of the desired changes (e.g. using existing faculty professional development programs to support incorporating sustainability concepts into courses across the curriculum, changing faculty reward systems to support co-teaching).
The successes of the Stanford work with Bay Area two-year colleges has led to the program becoming institutionalized so that it may continue over the long term.
Scale Up Change for Wider Impacts
From developing an initial prototype model to creating change at scale, it is important to raise awareness about the model and its impact on student learning and success aligned with departmental, college, and institutional goals. Collaborating with colleagues to improve the model and gaining support from administrators, and other key stakeholders is vital to this effort.
The collaborative, interdisciplinary work the Chico team has done on the Sustainability Pathway is being held up by the university administration and is being seen as model that others can emulate.
Change at scale will likely require resources (e.g. faculty release time, and/or professional development) and collaboration at multiple levels including high level university administrators (e.g.President, provosts, deans), Chairs (from multiple disciplinary departments), faculty within and outside your department, and students. New organizational structures may be needed to manage the increased activity and ensure information flow. Scaling up will also require an expansion in the project leadership. This provides an opportunity to engage leaders from new areas as part of the scale up strategy.
While a goal of the Washington program was explicitly to bring together stakeholders from many different institutions and organizations, they necessarily had to start with people who were already known to the leaders. As word of the effort spread, new leaders emerged to tackle new parts of the work.