Creating institution-level change in instructional practices through faculty communities of practice

Project No.
1347722
PI Name
Jose Mestre
Institution
University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign



Abstract 1

Creating institution-level change in instructional practices through faculty communities of practice

Presentation Type
Poster
Team
Jose Mestre, Jonathan Tomkin, Matthew West, & Geoffrey Herman University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Need

Improving the quality of STEM education requires that we not only understand what teaching methods are effective but also why faculty choose to adopt and continue to use those teaching methods. Prior studies have shown that faculty are generally aware of Research-Based Instructional Strategies (RBIS), but either fail to incorporate them into their teaching or stop using them after adopting them briefly. We need additional research and program development to understand how to change faculty teaching cultures that can create and sustain the adoption of RBIS. The outcomes of this project can inform how administrators and faculty/staff change agents can support culture change that create sustainable instructional change.

Goals

The project has 3-stages of goals. Our first goal is to organize faculty into collaborative teaching communities that will share joint ownership of course instruction and reforms. The second goal is for these communities to engage in innovate-evaluate development cycles, collecting data from their courses and using that data to inform future reforms. The third goal is for the emergent and sustained adoption of RBIS that are brokered by the cultural change created by the first two goals.

Approach

The design of the faculty communities are directed by andragogical and situative learning theories such as Transformational Learning Theory and Communities of Practice. Faculty communities meet on a weekly basis, and project PIs attend these meetings to provide mentorship and support, pointing communities toward RBIS that address felt needs. Data collection for iterative development is run by the communities and supported by both project PIs and research assistants. The PIs serve as liaisons between the projects, helping successful reforms spread across communities. The PIs also engage senior faculty and administration to broker institutionalization of the faculty communities. For example, one faculty community now has the departmental autonomy to assign faculty to the courses they are reforming.

Outcomes

The community-centric has led to the rapid adoption and spread of a number of RBIS. For example, our efforts have catalyzed the use of context-rich collaborative problem solving into 14 project-affiliated courses in five departments with 27 faculty instructors using these methods. Similarly, classroom response systems (i.e., clickers) and peer instruction have spread to 16 affiliated courses. Our project has also revealed that departmental structures dramatically impact the way that communities can form, necessitating more detailed analysis into the dimensions of departmental structures and their impact on community formation. Future work will focus on social network analyses and a taxonomy of departmental governance structures.

Broader Impacts

The broader impacts of this project has been the creation of a central, visible CoP that is supporting faculty adoption of RBIS in courses that impact over 17,000 students per year. By creating these communities across multiple departments, we are generating foundational knowledge about how departmental teaching cultures and how those cultures inhibit or facilitate change. The diversity of departments provides a rich research and evaluation testbed to refine strategies for deploying theories of change and generalize those strategies for other disciplines and institutions. We have published about these findings in STEM education conferences and journals.

Unexpected Challenges

The overarching goal of our project is to create faculty communities of practice that will create and sustain reform of instruction in large-enrollment, gateway STEM courses. The primary unexpected challenge to this effort has been the variance in departmental teaching structures and how those structures hinder or promote change. For example, in many of our engineering departments, tenure-track faculty are primarily in charge of instructing our targeted courses, but in the math and physical sciences, tenure-track faculty are not engaged with the instruction of these courses, necessitating lecturer-centric communities. These lecturer-centric communities are more vulnerable but more nimble. We are interfacing more heavily with administrators and senior faculty to become advocates for these communities.

Citations

Docktor, J. L. and Mestre, J. P. (2014). Synthesis of discipline-based education research in physics. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 10(2), 020119.

Fakcharoenphol, W. and Stelzer, T. (2014). Physics exam preparation: A comparison of three methods. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 10(1), 010108.

Gladding, G., Gutmann, B., Schroeder, N., and Stelzer, T. (2015). Narrated animated solution videos in a mastery setting. Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 11(1), 010103.

Ross, B. H., Mestre, J. P., and Docktor, J. L. (2014). Understanding how to teach physics understanding. In M. A. McDaniel, R. F. Frey, S. M. Fitzpatrick, and H. L. Roediger III (Eds.) Integrating cognitive science with innovative teaching in STEM disciplines. (pp. 223ヨ274). St. Louis: Washington University in St. Louis Libraries.

West, M. and Herman, G. L. (2014). Sustainable reform of Introductory Dynamics driven by a community of practice. In Proceedings of the 2014 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, (paper #10519). Indianapolis, IN. June 15ヨ18.

Fagen, W. A., Herman, G. L., and West, M. (2015). Reengineering an Introduction to Computing course within a College-Wide Community of Practice. In Proceedings of the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, (pp. 26.1303.1 - 26.1303.9). Seattle, WA. June 14ヨ17.

Heeren, C. and Fagan, W. A. (2015). Quantitative Correlation between Student Use of Office Hours and Course Performance. In Proceedings of the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, (pp. 26.1296.1 - 26.1296.9). Seattle, WA. June 14ヨ17.

West, M. and Herman, G. L. (2015). Mapping the Spread of Collaborative Learning Methods in Gateway STEM Courses via Communities of Practice. In Proceedings of the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, (pp. 26.1132.1 - 26.1132.11). Seattle, WA. June 14ヨ17.

West, M., Silva Sohn, M., and Herman, G. L. (2015). Randomized Exams for Large STEM Courses Spread via Communities of Practice. In Proceedings of the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, (pp. 26.1302.1 - 26.1302.15). Seattle, WA. June 14ヨ17.

West, M. and Herman, G. L. (2015). PrairieLearn: Mastery-based Online Problem Solving with Adaptive Scoring and Recommendations Driven by Machine Learning. In Proceedings of the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, (pp. 26.1238.1 - 26.1238.14). Seattle, WA. June 14ヨ17.

Herman, G. L., Mena, I. B., Greene, J., West, M., Tomkin, J. and Mestre, J. (2015). Creating Instution-Level Change in Instructional Practices through Faculty Communities of Practice. In Proceedings of the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, (pp. 26.419.1 - 26.419.13). Seattle, WA. June 14ヨ17.
C. Zilles, R. T. Deloatch, J. Bailey, B. B. Khattar, W. Fagen, C. Heeren, D. Mussulman, and M. West (2015). Computerized Testing: A Vision and Initial Experiences. In Proceedings of the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, (pp. 26.387.1 - 26.387.13). Seattle, WA. June 14ヨ17.
West, M., Herman, G., and Silva Sohn, M. (2015). Sustainable Reform of an Introductory Mechanics Course Sequence Driven by a Community of Practice. In Proceedings of the 2015 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, (to appear). Houston TX. November 13-19.
Herman, G., West, M., and Hahn, L. (2015). Coordinating College-Wide Instructional Change Through Faculty Communities. In Proceedings of the 2015 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, (to appear). Houston TX. November 13-19.
Herman, G. L. and Mena, I. (2015). Work In progress: Tracking the spread of research-based instructional strategies. In Proceedings of the Forty-fifth ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, (pp. 1179-1183). El Paso, TX, Oct. 21-24.
Roesler, J., Littleton, P., Schmidt, A., Schideman, L., Johnston, M., Mestre, J., Herman, G. L., Mena, I., Gates, E., Liu, L. (2015). Campus integrated project-based learning course in Civil and Environmental Engineering. In Proceedings of the Forty-fifth ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, (pp. 2202-2208). El Paso, TX, Oct. 21-24.