Tapping the Resources of Lecturers in STEM Education
For many academic institutions in the United States, the faculty model is increasingly differentiated, with different faculty members having different responsibilities and time commitments. Ehrenberg reports that non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty increased between 1995 and 2007 from 24% to 35% at public doctoral institutions and from 18% to 46% at private non-profit doctoral institutions (Ehrenberg, J. Econ. Perspect., 2012, 193-206). In the STEM disciplines at Georgia State University, NTT faculty members in full-time, permanent positions now make up 31% of our faculty; 88% of freshman and sophomore STEM course sections with more than 100 students enrolled are taught by NTT faculty. In the larger context, supporting NTT STEM faculty is key to institutional success.
The goals of this project are to support the teaching missions and careers of NTT STEM faculty members. Faculty groups are focusing on: (1) peer-led team learning, (2) the hybrid classroom, (3) training and support of graduate teaching assistants, (4) course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs), and (5) integration of sustainability into the classroom. With the data from the studies of faculty knowledge and motivation, ready access to quantitative data on student progress, support of outside mentors, and the leadership of committed Faculty Learning Communities, we can significantly increase GSUﾒs institutional commitment to evidence-based teaching and learning in the STEM disciplines.
Faculty involved include the PI and co-PI of this project, as well as numerous faculty (largely NTT) from all of the STEM disciplines. The goals of the project are being achieved through efforts to create networks among the faculty via Faculty Learning Communities, encouraging those teaching to make course modifications via the possibility of mini-grants, and working with the faculty via a central office to reduce the administrative load, allowing more time for creativity and student interaction.
Key findings include evidence for the necessity of increased social and technical support for our NTT faculty; the importance of formal recognition of their contributions to STEM teaching, and the synergistic effects that grow from increased networking. Key deliverables are changes toward evidence-based teaching, new administrative support structures, and new opportunities for our students [e.g., NTT-led Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs)].
The increasing use of NTT faculty in STEM education leads to the necessity to create support mechanisms for these vital members of our community. Work at GSU has led to specific advances that can be broadly applicable around the country. Examples include NTT faculty leading efforts to use hybrid classrooms and peer-led team learning in STEM courses, NTT led CURE research for undergraduates, university procedural changes to reduce the administrative load on faculty, and increased faculty interaction through participation in mini-grant efforts. Dissemination has been via websites and presentations at conferences.
Faculty interest has been lower than we had hoped; we have just continued to offer opportunities and encourage people to come.
We needed to change our outside consultant on this project.
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