Improving STEM education through Departmental Action Teams
Joel Corbo, Center for STEM Learning, University of Colorado Boulder
Despite decades of research into improved educational practices and the evidence of their effectiveness, educational transformation at the university level has yet to happen at scale. The problem here is not that there are a lack of good ideas for what changes to make, but rather that the strategies that are being used to create change are inappropriate or ineffective (e.g., because they ignore factors such as reward structures, departmental culture, sustainability, or shared visions). As part of a change effort to improve undergraduate STEM education, we have been facilitating and studying Departmental Action Teams (DATs). A DAT is an externally-facilitated working group of 4 to 8 faculty, staff, and/or students that is created by a department to achieve two goals: (1) create sustainable change around a broad-scale issue related to undergraduate education in the department and (2) help develop DAT participants' capacity for creating future change through developing facilitation and leadership skills. Rather than making "quick fixes" to try to address a "problem" in the short term, the DAT focuses on creating new structures and shifting departmental culture to address the issue in a sustained and ongoing fashion. DATs are supported by external facilitators who provide DAT participants with expertise in education and institutional change research, logistical support, campus connections, and a functional process for achieving their goals. In this presentation, we will share the DAT model, describe successful pilot DATs, and discuss the expansion of the DAT model to two universities.
PERL postdoc Rachel Henderson and collaborators publish an article in Physical Review Physics Education Research titled Partitioning the gender gap in physics conceptual inventories: Force Concept Inventory, Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation, and Conceptual Survey of Electricity and Magnetism.
PERL members John Aiken, Rachel Henderson, and Danny Caballero have published an article in Physical Review Physics Education Research title Modeling Student Pathways in a Physics Bachelor's Degree Program.
PERL members Angie Little, Bridget Humphrey, Abigail Green, Abhilash Nair, and Vashti Sawtelle published an article in Physical Review Physics Education Research titled Exploring mindset’s applicability to students’ experiences with challenge in transformed college physics courses.
PERL Undergrad Matt Ring helps create MSU Physics Education in Ghana Initiative
PERL co-director Vashti Sawtelle has won the Spirit of Ability Award.
PERL members Nick Young, Grant Allen, John Aiken, Rachel Henderson, and Danny Caballero have published an article in Physical Review Physics Education Research titled Identifying features predictive of faculty integrating computation into physics courses.
Postdoc Dena Izadi has won a grant from MSU's Broad Art Lab for her project "The Schrodinger’s Cat is in Town!"
PERL co-director Vashti Sawtelle, PERL alumni Abhilash Nair, and colleagues have published an article in Physical Review Physics Education Research titled Epistemological progress in physics and its impact on biology.
We're proud to announce that the PERL Team has contributed to 16 PERC Papers in 2018.
PERL co-director Danny Caballero and collaborator Laura Merner have published an article in Physical Review Physics Education Research titled Prevalence and nature of computational instruction in undergraduate physics programs across the United States.