Initial Publication Date: October 9, 2017

InTeGrate QUBES Faculty Mentoring Network

InTeGrate materials were introduced to the biological sciences with the support of the QUBES Faculty Mentoring Network (FMN). We began the mentoring process online, met in person during the National Association for Biology Teachers (NABT) conference in November 2015, and then continued follow-up with online support throughout the academic year. Faculty selected units that best fit their courses.

Key Aspects of the Program and Project Timeline

Year 1: 2015-2016 FMN

From Summer 2015-November 2015, the project held FMN organizational meetings with QUBES (Sam Donovan, Alison Hale) and FMN leaders (Hannah Scherer and Jennifer Hanselman). A call for applicants was facilitated through advertising through QUBES and a posting on the Pioneer Valley STEM email list. Recruitment of participants and review of applicants took place from August-September 2015. Applicants were chosen based on fit of the project goals and ability to complete requirements; we declined individuals who did not fit the project or could not complete the requirements (were not biology instructors, could not attend NABT, etc). We finalized our participant list by October 12, 2015 (6 participants) and finalized our preparation for NABT (see more details in our Planning notes). From October - November 2015, pre-NABT assignments were made, and on November 11, 2015, the National Association of Biology Teachers meeting was held in Providence, RI. An in-person kickoff was held at this NABT meeting.

Following the in person Kick-off meeting, we supported participants in their implementation of InTeGrate materials into their classes through Google Hangout meetings twice a month from January 6, 2015- May 31, 2016 (Google Hangout meeting notes). These meeting had associated assignments that helped participants in their planning and served as a basis for conversation during the meetings. Some of these assignments resulted in public QUBES blog posts in which participants shared their plans and reflections on the implementation process. In addition to discussing the assignment topic, a significant amount of time in each meeting was devoted to allowing participants to share and get feedback on their progress. QUBES has developed a powerful structure for Faculty Mentoring Networks that was followed in this project. We implemented two surveys to evaluate project outcomes and impacts:

  • InTeGrate QUBES FMN Survey 1 (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 6kB Jul28 16) - materials adaptation and implementation (also used as the starting point for Instructor Stories)
  • InTeGrate QUBES FMN Survey 2 (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 23kB Jul28 16) - participant outcomes and perceptions of the FMN

Year 2: Spring 2017 FMN

During Spring 2017, Jennifer Hanselman worked with Tara Jo Holmberg to serve as a mentors in the next round of the InTeGrate-QUBES FMN. In contrast to the Spring 2016 FMN, the 2017 program was entirely virtual. Twelve applicants were accepted for the Spring 2017 FMN. The program started with a two-hour virtual kickoff meeting, held on January 18, 2017. The meeting included an introduction to InTeGrate (e.g. goals, how materials were developed) and QUBES (e.g. goals, website). The participants were divided into two working groups who met with a faculty mentor on a biweekly basis. The faculty mentor facilitated the first two sessions and the following sessions were facilitated (with support) by the faculty participants. Topics included: assessment, systems-thinking, implementation, writing.

As in the original implementation, faculty chose modules that best suited their courses, which ranged from art and ecology to introductory biology, to environmental science. A list of available InTeGrate modules and courses was made available to faculty, and faculty were encouraged to select units, rather than full modules. In some cases, multiple modules were used in a single course.

Outcomes and Impact

An overview of the InTeGrate QUBES Faculty Mentoring Network structure and key findings from evaluation efforts was presented at annual Earth Educators' Rendezvous in Madison, WI in 2016 and Lawrence, KS in 2018. These presentations are available here:

The 2017 InTeGrate-QUBES FMN was also a success. We had not only a group of actively engaged participants, we also sparked interest from others outside of our community. The FMN not only encourages the use of InTeGrate materials, it also supports faculty efforts to find resources, adapt for their courses, and identify outcomes.

Materials Implementation

The InTeGrate QUBES Faculty Mentoring Network resulted in five participants implementing InTeGrate materials into their introductory level biology and environmental science courses. The scope of implementation ranged from using one unit to teaching an entire module. Instructors adapted the InTeGrate materials for their own instructional context, often building connections to the biology concepts in their courses. Specific ways that FMN participants adapted and implemented InTeGrate materials, along with information about the courses they taught, are described in the Instructor Stories linked below.

  • Kerry Byrne, Using Introducing the Wicked Problem of Global Food Security in Sustainable Human Ecology course at Oregon Institute of Technology
  • Alison Hale, Using Climate of Change in Foundations of Biology 2 at University of Pittsburgh-Main Campus.
  • Michelle A. Fisher, Using Interactions between Water, Earth's Surface, and Human Activity in Biology for Majors at Three Rivers College
  • Tara Jo Holmberg, Using A Growing Concern in Introduction to Environmental Science at Northwestern Connecticut Community College
  • Stefanie Kring Using Climate of Change in Introduction to Environmental Sustainability at Clarkson University
  • Robert Loeb, Using A Growing Concern in Introductory Soil Science at Pennsylvania State University-Penn State DuBois
  • Rachel Pigg, Using InTeGrate Materials in Survey of Life at Presbyterian College
  • Molly Redmond, Using InTeGrate Materials in Biology 3144 (Ecology) at UNC Charlotte
  • Sylvia Secchi, Using Map your Hazards in Geography, People and the Environment at Southern Illinois University Carbondale

In addition to the Instructor Stories, there is a QUBES FMN website that serves as a public portal to the group and houses meeting notes, schedules for meeting topics, and assignments that participants were asked to complete.

Evaluation survey results

Results from Survey 1 were used by participants to develop their individual Instructor Stories. In addition, open-ended responses from Survey 1 were coded along with those from Survey 2 to develop emergent themes about the InTeGrate QUBES FMN experience. Results from this qualitative analysis are presented in the pdf linked here: Qualitative Results Summary (Acrobat (PDF) 59kB Jul28 16)

Survey 2 also collected quantitative information from participants. These results are presented in the pdf linked here: Survey 2 Quantitative Results Summary (Acrobat (PDF) 173kB Jul28 16)

Advice for Future Projects

Things that worked well that we would do again

  • Diverse groups of faculty (different career stages, different types of classes) was helpful - faculty learned from each other
  • Assignments and standard meeting times kept people on track and the group "virtually" connected
  • Common goal of using InTeGrate materials - similar module structure and overarching InTeGrate goals kept the group cohesive - we could talk about these aspects in general because it related to the whole group

Strategies for overcoming challenges

  • Time commitment - be up front about expectations from the beginning
  • Flexibility - it's ok if participants miss a meeting, acknowledge busy schedules while fostering sense of commitment to the project
  • Communication and QUBES Hub - QUBES post doc was essential for keeping our site up to date and being the point person for announcements, assignment instructions, and meeting reminders.

Things to think about before you start this type of project

Before starting the project, the first set of communications should include specific commitments but also include the language that does suggest there will be a flexibility in completing assignments. The list of requirements is lengthy and could "scare" someone off, when in fact it is not that burdensome.

Project Team

  • Jennifer Hanselman, Biology Department, Westfield State University (SERC Profile)
  • Hannah Scherer, Dept. of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (SERC profile)
  • Sam Donovan, Biology Department, University of Pittsburgh (QUBES profile } SERC Profile)
  • Alison Hale, Biology Department, University of Pittsburgh (QUBES profile)
  • Gaby Hamerlinck, QUBES/BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium (QUBES profile)


We would like to thank the participants of the FMN for their hard work and willing participation.

This material is based upon work supported by QUBES and InTeGrate.

QUBES is partially supported by the National Science Foundation under DBI 1346584, DUE 1446269, DUE 1446258, and DUE 1446284. InTeGrate is supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) collaboration between the Directorates for Education and Human Resources (EHR) and Geociences (GEO) under grant DUE 1125331. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.