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The CIRTL Network: Shaping, Connecting, and Supporting the Future National STEM Faculty
Graduate students at research universities will shape the future of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) undergraduate education in the US. These graduate students, 80% of whom are trained at only 125 research universities, flow into the STEM faculties of all undergraduate institutions, dispersing among more than 4,000 research universities, comprehensive universities, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges. Equally important, future faculties will be engaged in all forms of STEM education for diverse learners, including college classrooms and laboratories, distance learning, K–12 preservice preparation, and informal education. Thus, the graduate schools of research universities are a critical leverage point for the improvement of national STEM education.
The future prosperity of US society in an accelerating global economy depends upon a competitive, technically expert, college-educated workforce (e.g., Rising Above the Gathering Storm; Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, 2006). Yet presently there are serious concerns about STEM undergraduate education, including low enrollment and retention rates in introductory courses and inadequate student understanding (NSF, 1996; NRC, 1999, 2003; PKAL, 2006). In the mathematics and physical science disciplines, 90.2% of students who switched out of the major noted the poor teaching in their educational experiences (Seymour & Hewitt, 1994, 1997). Research also shows the pivotal impact of classroom experiences on equitable student achievement and persistence in STEM (Cabrera, Colbeck, & Terenzini, 2001; Tinto, 1997).
The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) is an NSF Center for Learning and Teaching in higher education. CIRTL uses graduate education as the leverage point to develop a national STEM faculty committed to implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse student audiences as part of successful professional careers. The goal of CIRTL is to improve the STEM learning of all students at every college and university, and thereby to increase the diversity in STEM fields and the STEM literacy of the nation.
The initial partner universities - the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW), Michigan State University (MSU), and the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) - developed, implemented, evaluated, and institutionalized a prototype CIRTL learning community at UW. In 3 years, more than 1,000 STEM graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty (hereinafter graduates-through-faculty) engaged in the learning community to improve their teaching abilities. This large number shows that the national need is felt at the grassroots of a research university. The prototype demon-strates that a research university will prepare STEM grad students and postdocs to be both forefront researchers and excellent teachers, and that STEM faculty will provide and support such preparation.
CIRTL achieved such engagement by integrating the improvement of teaching and learning within a STEM research model and embedding professional development within a learning community of and for graduates-through-faculty. The teaching-as-research idea integrates research, teaching, and learning by guiding STEM educators to engage in their teaching as they engage in their research—know prior work, hypothesize, implement, collect data, analyze, and improve. Development of graduates-through-faculty is fostered in an interdisciplinary learning community that engages and connects all participants in improving their teaching. The diversity of such learning communities promotes understanding that learning of all is enhanced through diversity.
We propose a strategy, again based on these three powerful ideas, to scale up this successful prototype CIRTL learning community to many research universities. Specifically, we propose a learning community of diverse research universities mutually engaged in teaching-as-research activities to prepare future faculty in teaching and learning for all students. To develop and evaluate this strategy, in 2006 CIRTL formed a prototype national network of seven diverse research universities—the University of Colorado at Boulder, Howard University, MSU, PSU, Texas A&M University, Vanderbilt University, and UW—called the CIRTL Network.
The activities of the CIRTL Network are the basis of this proposal. Building on the strengths of each institution, we will create CIRTL learning communities both local to each university and across the Network. We set a goal of preparing 1,200 future faculty annually for careers that enhance STEM learning by diverse student audiences. Success of this prototype network will be a major step toward all research universities developing a future national STEM faculty skilled in implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse student audiences.
The goals of this proposal are to:
- Establish interdisciplinary learning communities at every Network university, each founded on the CIRTL core ideas and each effectively preparing graduates-through-faculty to use and improve best practices in STEM teaching and learning with attention to diverse student audiences;
- Establish a cross-network learning community by which graduates-through-faculty across the Network are better prepared for teaching as a consequence of the diversity of the universities;
- Foster transitions from the Network learning communities into faculty positions that sustain the concepts, practices, and attitudes developed while graduate students or postdocs;
- Enhance graduate education in teaching and learning at universities beyond the CIRTL Network.
The long-range goal is to produce a national cohort of STEM graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who are launching new faculty careers at diverse institutions, demonstrably succeeding in promoting STEM learning for all, and actively engaging in improving teaching and learning practice.
CIRTL was established as an NSF Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT) in January 2003, with a 5-year strategic plan that has been achieved on schedule through December 2006 (Year 4). Below is an 8-year timeline that also includes the scope of work in this proposal. Broadly, during the first 3 years MSU, PSU and UW developed and evaluated a prototype learning community at UW (Section IV), building on knowledge, experience, programs, and new CIRTL-supported activities at all three universities. Based on lessons learned as the three universities worked together, the 4th year was dedicated to designing and forming the CIRTL Network of seven research universities (Section V). As of January 2007 (Year 5), CIRTL is embarked on a 4-year initiative to develop, implement, and evaluate learning communities that enhance preparation of the future STEM faculty at all seven universities, for which this proposal requests funding for the last 3 years (Sections VI–VIII).
IV. CIRTL Accomplishments (Results of Prior NSF Funding)
IV.a. Development of a Conceptual Framework: The Pillars of CIRTL
Three core ideas, or pillars, provide the conceptual framework for all CIRTL activities:
- Teaching-as-research is the deliberate, systematic, and reflective use of research methods by STEM instructors to develop and implement teaching practices that advance the learning experiences and outcomes of all students.
- Learning communities bring together groups of people for shared learning, discovery, and generation of knowledge. To achieve common learning goals, a learning community nurtures functional relationships among its members.
- Learning-through-diversity capitalizes on the rich array of experiences, backgrounds, and skills among STEM undergraduates and graduates-through-faculty to enhance the learning of all. It recognizes that excellence and diversity are necessarily intertwined.
These ideas operate powerfully at multiple levels. First, they lie at the heart of the learning objectives of CIRTL professional development activities. Each activity seeks to enable graduates-through-faculty—throughout their careers—to practice teaching-as-research, develop learning communities of their students, and enhance learning of all students. Second, the graduates-through-faculty themselves form a campus learning community that enables all members to investigate the effects of teaching practice, capitalize on their diverse perspectives, and thereby enhance the learning of all their students. Finally, the CIRTL Network seeks to create a learning community that integrates participants in teaching-as-research activities across a network of seven diverse research universities.
IV.b. The Successful Prototype: The Delta Program in Research, Teaching, and Learning
CIRTL’s first major goal was to develop, implement, evaluate, and institutionalize an effective STEM graduate-through-faculty learning community, centered on preparing future faculty in teaching and learning and founded on the CIRTL pillars. The CIRTL partners used UW as their lab. The target date for launching the learning community was September 2003. This target was met on schedule, and so the evaluation results reported here cover somewhat more than 3 years of operation.
This prototype CIRTL learning community is called the Delta Program in Research, Teaching, and Learning (Appendix I; www.delta.wisc.edu). As of December 2006, 1,166 STEM graduates-through-faculty have participated in the Delta learning community. The participation rate is at current program capacity, and satisfaction results are very high. 95% report being satisfied or extremely satisfied (in courses, small-group programs, internships, fall 2005 semester; Pfund et al., 2006a). Among the participants, 57% have been graduate students, 14% postdocs, 15% faculty, and 14% academic staff. 44% of the graduate students engaged in 15 or more hours of Delta programs. The disciplinary affiliations of participants are 26% physical and mathematical sciences, 44% biological sciences, 20% engineering sciences, and 10% social, behavioral, and economic sciences (SBE). Except for SBE (only recently proactively targeted), these frequencies mimic the overall UW graduate populations in these disciplines. The gender distribution among graduate students is nearly equal, which is an overrepresentation of women relative to the broader graduate student population.
The programmatic component of Delta comprises graduate courses, small-group facilitated programs for graduates-through-faculty, and internships. The program design emphasizes semester-long intervals of engagement, building on research showing that such longer term engagement is more transformational (e.g., Garet et al., 1999). Every facet of Delta is designed around research models familiar to STEM graduates-through-faculty. The courses are project-based, requiring students to define a learning problem; understand the student audience; explore the literature for prior knowledge; hypothesize, design, and implement a solution; and acquire and analyze data to measure learning outcomes. The Delta internships are research assistantships in teaching, in which a graduate student or postdoc partners with a faculty member to address a learning problem. The Delta activities are designed to provide each graduate and postdoctoral participant with a portfolio, letters of recommendation, and presentations/publications in teaching and learning analogous to those in their disciplinary research curriculum vitae. And finally, every course is team-taught by research-active STEM and social science faculty and staff. These pairings provide powerful combinations of experience, theoretical foundation, and role modeling for the STEM future faculty.
Impact on future faculty. The Delta Program is measurably enhancing participants’ attitudes and understandings about teaching and learning, and their plans for teaching practice. An extensive evaluation is under way and will finish in 2007 (Year 5). A series of findings already show that graduate and postdoctoral participants learn how to effectively teach STEM courses, to improve student learning, and to think about the diversity of their students. A general outcome is their dynamic and inclusive conceptualization of teaching practice. When asked to describe steps that they would take in future teaching, 56% of single-dosage (one-semester) participants incorporate the ideas and actions of at least two CIRTL pillars, while 80% of multiple-dosage participants do so (Pfund et al., 2006a). Interviews of 70 participants in spring 2005 show that Delta graduates-through-faculty are able to use their disciplinary research skills in investigating their own students’ learning (Connolly et al., 2007). Future teaching practices as faculty may be foreshadowed by practices as graduate students after participation in Delta. Thirty-one Delta interns have designed, implemented, and analyzed projects to address student learning challenges at UW or nearby colleges. Each obtained data on prior student knowledge or attitudes, designed an intervention building on research-based strategies, collected and analyzed outcome data, and presented findings to the learning community, and in many cases in publications or disciplinary presentations. This set of early evaluation evidence triangulates toward a strong likelihood that the Delta learning community has increased participants’ awareness of effective teaching practices and their abilities to improve their student learning in an ongoing way.
The ultimate measure of CIRTL’s impact must be the future teaching practices of participants, and the learning of their students as established by teaching-as-research activities. To this end, aninterview-based longitudinal study, launched in 2005, is following 85 graduate students and post-doctoral researchers who participated at varying levels in Delta as they finish and move into first professional positions in diverse settings. The 2005 and 2006 interviews show that Delta participation results in (a) valued new knowledge and skills about teaching, (b) positive changes in attitudes toward teaching, and (c) expanded views of types of academic roles they might play and types of institutions of interest (Millar & Bouwma-Gearhart, 2005; Bouwma-Gearhart, Millar, Barger, & Connolly, 2007). Given the youth of Delta, only seven subjects have transitioned into first positions in new settings. Nonetheless, all seven report that their experiences in Delta helped them adjust effectively and creatively to the teaching-related demands of their new positions.
Impact on UW. The institutional impact of the Delta Program is measured in part by successful institutionalization. As of August 2007, Delta will be entirely supported by UW (see letter of support). Second- and third-generation faculty from the learning community are playing leadership and instruc-tional roles (without CIRTL funding; Appendix I). Thus, in addition to attracting more than 1,000 participants, Delta has achieved institutional support and impact at administrative and faculty levels.
Importantly, the Delta Program also plays an ever-increasing role in supporting the research mission of the university. Delta provides a path for graduates-through-faculty to develop the skills for responding to the call of funding agencies for broader impact of research work. Delta staff proactively provide consultation and workshops for students applying for NSF fellowships, postdocs applying for NASA funding, new faculty applying for NSF CAREER awards , and senior faculty applying for NIH training grants and NSF research funding. Proposals often include budget lines funding students or postdocs to participate in Delta on behalf of broader impact activities, thereby supporting participation of future faculty in Delta and fostering their own readiness for future broader impact.
IV.c. CIRTL Diversity Institute and Resources
The challenge of enhancing diversity in STEM fields is of primary importance to CIRTL. The project made a major investment in the CIRTL Diversity Institute to synthesize research knowledge and practices that enhance STEM learning by diverse student audiences in higher education. The foundation was a literature review, now available as an annotated bibliography of over 100 research articles on effective teaching practices, retention of underrepresented students, and equitable classroom practices enhancing learning for all. The Diversity Resources (http://cirtl.net/diversityresources/) also include Reaching All Students: A Resource Book for Teaching in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; a Case Book providing real situations faced by graduates-through-faculty; Content Matters, a collection of undergraduate- and graduate-level syllabi that integrate STEM topics with gender, ethnic, and social diversity issues; a self-guided diversity workshop; and a guide to 25 selected Web sites. These products are used in CIRTL professional development programs and by STEM faculty nationwide. Through 2006, the resource book has been downloaded 1,486 times; the literature review, 1,342 times; and the case book, 737 times. The Content Matters syllabi, released in June 2006, already have received 675 download requests.
IV.d. CIRTL Impact on the National Landscape of Graduate Education
CIRTL has invested heavily in national dissemination. In addition to 86 presentations and 27 publications (http://www.cirtl.net/presentations, http://www.cirtl.net/bibliography/), we highlight three initiatives:
CIRTL Forums. These biannual national meetings serve ≈ 275 deans, faculty, staff, and graduate students from research universities and other higher education institutions across the nation. The 2003 CIRTL Forum explored the landscape of graduate education in teaching and learning, and the 2005 CIRTL Forum, at which the Diversity Resources were launched, focused on inclusive teaching.
CIRTL Guidebooks. Eight course and program guidebooks are available at www.cirtl.net. The guidebooks offer detailed plans that can be used to easily offer essentially identical versions of Delta courses or programs at other institutions, or that instructors can tailor to fit their own needs and goals. Course syllabi, recommended readings, and evaluation tools are just some of the guidebooks’ features. These have been downloaded over 1,000 times in the past year.
Institutional associations. We work closely with leading organizations in higher education. For example, the CIRTL Network is part of the Carnegie Institutional Leadership Program, and the CILP graduate education group took the name Graduate Education: The Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning. Another outcome of that association is recent funding of a National Academy for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning in Ireland, closely modeled after CIRTL.
IV.e. CIRTL Research
Research at all three partner universities has played a central role in the CIRTL success, first, by providing a foundation for designing initiatives and second, by studying and understanding the outcomes of those initiatives. In addition to studies of the CIRTL pillars (IV.a), CIRTL research work includes: needs assessments; a national scan of STEM graduate student professional development programs in teaching and learning; a database tracking the paths of all Delta participants; an ongoing study of all STEM graduates-through-faculty at UW to investigate change in teaching-related attitudes and behaviors; a study of organizational change to highlight strategies for institutionalizing CIRTL programs; a dissertation under way on the value of CIRTL-like experiences in the hiring process at 4-year colleges and universities; classification of research universities along dimensions of doctoral production and involvement in STEM professional development; and an implementation study of CIRTL Network formation and development to identify the keys to successful network building.
V. The CIRTL Network
The prototype CIRTL learning community demonstrated that a major research university can and will commit to the preparation of STEM graduate students to be both forefront researchers and excellent teachers. In addition, the Delta experiment established that there is a strong felt need for such preparation among STEM graduate students and postdocs, and a willingness of STEM faculty to provide and support that preparation. Finally, Delta demonstrated that a graduate-through-faculty learning community built on the CIRTL pillars is an effective approach at a research university both to improve preparation for teaching and to promote institutional change.
To prepare the future STEM faculty of the nation, CIRTL must similarly influence graduate-through-faculty preparation in teaching and learning at a significant number of research universities. Building again on the CIRTL pillars, we propose to achieve this goal through a learning community of diverse research universities mutually engaged in teaching-as-research activities to prepare future faculty in teaching and learning for all students. To test this strategy, we have created a prototype experiment: the CIRTL Network. Established in fall 2006, the CIRTL Network comprises the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), Howard University, Michigan State University, the Pennsylvania State University, Texas A&M University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Wisconsin - Madison. The diversity of these institutions—private/public; large/moderate size; majority-/minority-serving; geographic location—is by design.
Critically, the CIRTL Network is a learning community rather than a confederation. As such, the CIRTL Network is a path for mutual adaptation, participation, and collaboration. Every university provides a different context; indeed, the diversity of institutions, programs, and people is a primary motivation for the CIRTL Network. A key hypothesis is that the preparation in teaching and learning of a graduate student or postdoc at any CIRTL Network university will be substantially enhanced, directly and indirectly, as a result of the diversity across the Network.
We envision that the CIRTL Network will enhance the preparation in teaching and learning of STEM future faculty in at least three ways: (a) through the development and enhancement of local learning communities, building on successes throughout the Network; (b) through cross-network programs that expand the graduate-through-faculty learning community beyond the local university; and (c) through the development of a community that extends beyond graduate school into the faculty experience. The next three sections take up each of these themes in turn.
VI. The Development of CIRTL Learning Communities at Network Universities
Each member of the CIRTL Network seeks to establish a vibrant interdisciplinary learning community for STEM graduates-through-faculty, each centered on preparing future faculty in teaching and learning and founded on the CIRTL pillars. The diversity of the universities will lead to a diversity of approaches toward realizing professional development in teaching and learning. We describe these varied approaches next; here, we emphasize the richness of the collective outcomes, including enhancement of teaching and learning in the disciplines; an emphasis on effective teaching in STEM service courses; a predictive framework for professional development; an endowed institute for integrating research, teaching, and learning; integration of the learning sciences; development of skills for inquiry-based learning; and preparation of effective research mentors. The needs served by these diverse approaches are common to all research universities; the CIRTL Network allows the lessons learned at each university to be shared by all universities, within the Network and beyond.
IV.a. University of Colorado, Boulder: STEM Teaching and Learning Courses in Departments
CU is a flagship research university of the Rocky Mountain Region. It has long been a leader in preparing future faculty, as evidenced by its nationally recognized Graduate Teacher Program (GTP) that develops Lead Graduate Teachers (LGTs) in all STEM departments. CU proposes to integrate GTP and CIRTL so as to deepen impact in STEM departments. Specifically, CU will bring together LGTs with faculty mentors to develop discipline-specific courses in teaching and learning, a new direction for CIRTL. CU will first integrate the CIRTL pillars into its LGT training and into its workshop and portfolio certification requirements. Beginning in 2007, each LGT and faculty mentor will be encouraged to design a course in teaching and learning that is based on the CIRTL pillars and builds on evaluated CIRTL materials. They will then implement and evaluate their courses, likely with iterations involving subsequent LGTs and mentors. All of this work will be facilitated and supported by a growing interdisciplinary learning community of the LGTs and mentors. Ultimately, these courses will serve more than 400 teaching assistants and be available to more than 1,300 graduate students in 17 STEM departments. Finally, CU will extend CIRTL throughout the Colorado Preparing Future Faculty Network. Leaders: Patricia Rankin (Physics; Assoc. Dean, Natural Sciences) ; Laura Border (GTP); Melinda Piket-May (Electrical & Computer Engineering).
VI.b. Howard University: Preparing for STEM Undergraduate Service Courses
Howard University is a private comprehensive research university, with a distinguished record of producing African American PhDs. Howard was an inaugural member of the Pew Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program and continues to have its own vital PFF program (www.gs.howard.edu/pff/) upon which this initiative will build. Howard will focus its CIRTL activities on preparing future faculty to teach STEM undergraduate service courses. To this end, Howard proposes to develop, implement, and evaluate a new 3-credit Graduate Teaching Fellow (GTF) course that will develop teaching-as-research projects designed to improve high-impact undergraduate STEM courses at Howard, such as introductory biology; general chemistry and physics (and their labs); and college algebra, precalculus, and calculus. A critical component of the GTF course will be introducing graduate students and postdocs to new teaching practices developed through major NSF investments in these disciplines; CIRTL needs assessments show that these are rarely known by new faculty. Initial enrollment will be targeted to about 30 students from the departments of biology, chemistry, and mathematics, and class sessions will be adapted from prototype courses of the Delta Program, the CU GTP, the Howard PFF program, and the Howard Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Assessment. In three years, roughly 100 graduate students and 10 faculty will participate in the GTF course. In addition, each year supplementary stipends (e.g., from GAANN Fellowships) will be offered to 12 GTF students to teach service courses. Howard will build a CIRTL learning community from the GTF participants. The initial connection of learning community participants will be teaching-as-research to advance service courses, but Howard seeks for both the scope and membership of the learning community to broaden across campus. Leaders: Folahan Ayorinde (Chemistry); William Eckberg (Biology; Assoc. Dean, Graduate School); Abdul-Aziz Yakubu (Mathematics, Chair).
VI.c. Michigan State University: Changing the Culture of Graduate Education
CIRTL opportunities in teaching and learning at MSU are embedded within a broader graduate student professional development program called PREP (Planning, Resilience, Engagement, and Professionalism; http://grad.msu.edu/prep/). In fall 2006, MSU implemented the interdisciplinary FAST (Future Academic Scholars in Teaching) Fellowship Program, modeled after the highly successful Lilly Teaching Fellows Program for Faculty Development at MSU. FAST is a learning community of STEM graduate students preparing for academic positions. The FAST program provides opportunities for a diverse group of graduate students to have mentored teaching-as-research experiences. During this grant, MSU will evaluate and improve the outcomes of the FAST learning community with respect to student understanding of the three CIRTL pillars, and the ways in which these affect student preparation for current and future academic roles.
Another key goal at MSU is to integrate professional development into the culture of STEM graduate education. Thus, MSU will develop a Graduate Student Professional Development Predictive Framework that identifies key areas of professional development needed to compete for and be effective in academic careers. This framework will be distributed to new graduate students, graduate advisors, and college-level graduate committees to encourage a culture of planning in advance for the professional development activities that students need to integrate with their disciplinary research activities. The ultimate goals are to broaden faculty perspectives on helping graduate students meet their career goals, to better position students to compete for academic positions, and to prepare a future faculty able to meet the needs of STEM disciplines and diverse student populations. Leaders: Henry (Rique) Campa, III (Fisheries and Wildlife; Faculty-in-Residence, Graduate School); Karen Klomparens (Plant Biology; Dean, Graduate School); Natasha Speer (Math Education).
VI.d. The Pennsylvania State University: An Endowed Institute for CIRTL Initiatives
The CIRTL strategic plan charged several PSU faculty—Richard Cyr (Biology), Peter Jurs and later Mark Maroncelli (Chemistry), Akhlesh Lakhtakia (Engineering Science), assisted by Carol Colbeck (Education)—to develop CIRTL programs and learning communities in their departments, with the vision that these would later meld into a university initiative. These seed programs linked the Colleges of Engineering, Science, and Education and have served roughly 250 STEM graduate students. In 2005, these faculty began an initiative to connect and serve all 10 PSU graduate colleges. The Pennsylvania State Institute for Research on Learning (PIRL) will be an interdisciplinary graduate-through-faculty learning community that will serve as a central hub for the integration of research, teaching, and learning at PSU. The foundation of PIRL will be rotating chaired professors who will guide future and current faculty in the integration of their research and teaching. The PIRL teaching-as-research activities will involve teams of graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and chaired professors. Over the years, “emeritus” chaired professors will join with new chairs to grow a sustained learning community for teaching-as-research at PSU. PIRL is a designated priority of the current PSU development campaign, with the goal of achieving a multimillion dollar endowment. An essential component of this campaign is an array of cases demonstrating the integration of teaching and research based on the CIRTL pillars, which will be a primary initiative of this grant. Leaders: Cyr (Biology); Colbeck (Higher Education); Lakhtakia (Engineering); Maroncelli (Chemistry).
VI.e. Texas A&M University: Developing Skills in Inquiry-Based Learning
Texas A&M University has a longstanding interest in improving learning outcomes and graduation rates for a diverse undergraduate population in the STEM disciplines. A current university initiative is to bring inquiry-based learning into STEM undergraduate classrooms. However, a paucity of effective instructional materials remains an obstacle to widespread adoption of these methods, especially in lower division courses. Adapting and developing such materials for the university’s diverse student audience, and integrating them successfully into courses, will require a coordinated effort of graduates-through-faculty. This curriculum transformation is a rich opportunity for developing a CIRTL graduate-through-faculty learning community. Specifically, Texas A&M will build on (a) the Delta Instructional Materials Development course to develop the requisite skills and pilot inquiry-based materials and (b) the Delta Internship program to integrate and evaluate those materials. These programs will be designed around graduate-through-faculty teams. Importantly, this initiative will be integrated with the existing Graduate Teaching Academy, a student-created learning community. The work will be supported by the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) and programs in the College of Education and Human Development. By coordinating this work with existing undergraduate programs with expertise in teaching underrepresented student populations (e.g., an NSF STEP program in engineering), Texas A&M will advance the learning-through-diversity pillar among its graduate students and throughout the Network. Leaders: Robert Webb (Physics; Assoc. Dean, Undergraduate Research); Bruce Herbert (Geology and Geophysics); Jane Schielack (College of Science; Assoc. Dean, Assessment & PK–12 Education); Nancy Simpson (CTE, Director).
VI.f. Vanderbilt University: Connecting Learning Science to STEM Professional Development
Vanderbilt University is a private research university with over 1,000 STEM graduate students. Vanderbilt brings a wide array of research in STEM learning, including the Learning Sciences Institute (LSI), the NSF-funded VaNTH Engineering Research Center, the Center for Teaching, and the Center for Science Outreach in the Medical Center. The primary CIRTL initiative will be to create a learning community of these varied groups, with the functional purpose of using learning sciences to improve STEM learning at Vanderbilt and throughout the nation through future and current faculty. This interdisciplinary learning community will be the framework for professional development opportunities for STEM graduate students and postdocs. For example, blending learning sciences knowledge with the Delta Instructional Materials Development model, Vanderbilt will create an interdisciplinary working group of STEM undergrad lab instructors and senior graduate teaching assistants. These future and current faculty will collaborate on teaching-as-research projects to develop lab experiences that will move student learning toward critical thinking. These lab instructors guide the teaching experiences of the majority of STEM graduate students and provide coursework for virtually every undergraduate on campus. The learning community also will connect STEM graduate students and postdoctoral fellows (especially those in the Medical Center) to mentored teaching-as-research opportunities across campus, to LSI, and to workshops on topics such as VaNTH education research to improve teaching methods. Leaders: David Weintraub (Physics and Astronomy); Thomas Harris (Biomedical Engineering; VaNTH PI); Allison Pingree (Center for Teaching); Andrew Porter (Learning Sciences Institute, Director); Virginia Shepherd (Pathology; Center for Science Outreach).
VI.g. University of Wisconsin–Madison: Preparing Research Mentors and a Global Faculty
As a primary responsibility, UW will support adaptation of Delta programs throughout the Network. In addition, UW will expand the Delta learning community in three directions. First, a frontier in the preparation of STEM faculty is training to be research mentors; such training is ever more vital with the increasing emphasis on undergraduate research. Furthermore, enhancement of undergraduate and graduate research experiences will increase the recruitment and retention of diverse students in STEM. A mentor-training program in the biological sciences has been developed, implemented, and evaluated by the HHMI-funded Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching (http://scientificteaching.wisc.edu/ ; Pfund et al., 2006b). UW will adapt this mentor-training program to serve future and current faculty in all STEM disciplines and integrate it into Delta. Second, because of a varied knowledge base among Delta instructors, the integration of the learning-through-diversity pillar within Delta activities has also varied. With availability of the Diversity Resources, UW will initiate a coherent integration of these resources throughout the learning community. Finally, UW will address diversity in a new direction by creating and evaluating a course called International Students, International Faculty. In the spirit of learning-through-diversity, this course will be for both US and international students and will have as its objectives preparing US future faculty to teach international students, preparing international students to teach US students, and preparing all students to teach in the new globally connected world. Leaders: Steven Ackerman (Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences; Delta, co-Faculty Director), Steven Cramer (Civil Engineering; Assoc. Dean, Engineering), Don Gillian-Daniel (Delta, Assist. Director), Robert Mathieu (Astronomy; Delta, co-Faculty Director), Christine Pfund (Delta, Assoc. Director).
VII. Learning-through-Diversity: Connecting Future Faculty Across the Network
A core motivation for the CIRTL Network is that graduates-through-faculty at all of the diverse universities will be better prepared for their future teaching if they can interact meaningfully with each other, and thereby learn from the diversity of undergraduate students, graduate students, university cultures, etc. across the Network. Ultimately, we intend that graduates-through-faculty will see local and Network opportunities and participants as one seamless learning community for enhancing teaching and learning via the CIRTL pillars.
VII.a. Distance-Learning Courses
Distance learning creates opportunities for graduate students and postdocs around the network to learn together about teaching, and through their diversity enhance each other’s preparation for future faculty roles. In fall 2006, CIRTL ran a prototype distance-learning version of the Delta College Classroom course, led by Sandra Courter (Engineering, UW). Participants included 19 graduate students and several faculty members from across the Network. The learning experience consisted of weekly, hour-long classes in an interactive web-conference format, video micro-teaching experiences, and local facilitated discussions. In the evaluations, students consistently identified having participants from diverse institutions as a unique experience that was important in broadening their perspectives on teaching. Participants also valued exposure to the distance-learning pedagogy itself; undoubtedly, today’s future faculty will have career paths that include teaching beyond the classroom.
We propose to build on this successful prototype by expanding to a curriculum of five distance-learning courses whose “origins” are distributed around the Network. The primary goal is to provide a rich array of learning-through-diversity opportunities. Additionally, this approach will provide a wider range of courses for students at all campuses, with the efficiency that every campus need not staff every opportunity. Finally, these courses will be a powerful dissemination channel to inspire local adaptations. Leaders: Courter (UW); Ayorinde (Howard), Michael Klymkowsky (Biology, CU); Greg Moses (Engineering Physics, UW); Keivan Stassun (Astronomy and Physics, Vanderbilt).
VII.b. Online Community Center
CIRTL will build an online community center to promote the development and support the activities of the cross-network graduate-through-faculty learning community. This community center will engage participants in a “just in time, just for me” learning environment, and provide equitable access to professional development opportunities (Hewitt & Scardamalia, 1998; Schlager & Fusco, 2003). The center will foster four elements of a learning community: conversations, activities, resources, and archiving. We envision a Web portal that will enable network-wide conversations, collaborative teaching-as-research, joint creation and sharing of resources, and active participation in CIRTL events at a distance. The community center will promote formal and self-organized activities and permit synchronous and asynchronous interactions of graduates-through-faculty.
Technically, we will use existing tools available from Network institutions and open source tools from the broader Internet community. Among the tools will be a learning management system (www.moodle.org) to support distance courses, workshops, and seminars, as well as group discussion forums and individual conversations; a portfolio system (OSP Initiative, www.osportfolio.org/) to support participant reflection and aid academic careers; a collaborative workspace to support teaching-as-research teams and cross-network internships (as well as project management); and Web conferencing, video conferencing, and podcasting. These systems are customizable and scalable. They will support the community as it develops and allow the CIRTL Network to grow beyond seven institutions. Leaders: Herbert (Texas A&M), Katherine Barnicle (CIRTL), Campa (MSU).
VII.c. CIRTL Network Exchange Program
The opportunity to present or do disciplinary research at another university is often a formative experience in a graduate student career. We hypothesize that the same is true of teaching-as-research, and indeed that disciplinary and teaching-as-research activities will each enhance the other. Thus, we will establish an exchange program for graduates-through-faculty throughout the Network.
The most frequent exchanges will be travel for colloquia and collaborations on timescales of a few days to a week. Typically, these visits will include (a) a colloquium on teaching-as-research, (b) a colloquium on disciplinary research, and (c) research discussions in the disciplinary and teaching-as-research communities (a distinction we seek to soften). Our experience shows that providing a re-search presence both in the discipline and in teaching increases the credibility and respect of each. The next level of exchange will be collaborative visits of a week to a month within a CIRTL Distinguished Scholars program. Here, the goal will be to establish long-term teaching-as-research collaborations that extend beyond the visits. The success of this approach is well demonstrated for STEM research, and we have examples in teaching-as-research, such as a collaboration between astronomy graduate student Søren Meibom (UW) and Richard McCray (CU) (Meibom 2005; Meibom & McCray 2007).
We highlight two strategic goals. First, by integrating and funding both disciplinary and teaching-as-research connections, this program provides incentives for research advisors to support their graduate students and post-docs in this program, and in integrating their research and teaching professional development. Second, this program will be a major dissemination channel for adaptations throughout the Network. Leaders: Border (CU), Ackerman (UW), Lakhtakia (PSU).
VII.d. STEM Education Scholars Program
The STEM Education Scholars Program (STEMES) brings together early-career faculty, postdocs, and senior graduate students from across the Network for a week-long summer immersion experience to prepare them for current or upcoming teaching roles. STEMES builds on the NSF-funded Engineering Education Scholars Program (EESP; begun in 1995). Evaluation of 115 EESP participants from 43 universities showed that they gained a solid foundation in research-based teaching practices, incorporated more student-centered approaches into their teaching, and valued awareness and connection to teaching knowledge bases (Pfatteicher & Daffinrud, 1998). Scholars left the program with increased commitment to teaching, to their mission as instructors and mentors for students, and to their roles as agents for enhanced teaching at their institutions.
In 2004, CIRTL adapted the EESP program to be more interdisciplinary and to integrate the CIRTL pillars. Teaching-as-research provides participants with a stronger context for ongoing action in improving teaching, while learning-through-diversity takes an inclusive teaching component toward action that improves the learning of all. In 2006, the STEMES program included, in part, course and learning module design (Karl Smith, Purdue University), assessment strategies for teaching-as-research (Diane Ebert-May, MSU), diversity issues (Judith Burstyn, UW), and learning communities (Tor Kwembe, Jackson State). We intend to move the STEMES program location every 2 years—e.g., PSU (2004, 2005), Howard (2006, 2007), Vanderbilt (2008, 2009)—both to allow participants to experience the diversity of the Network and to provide high-profile CIRTL events on each campus. We also will facilitate ongoing connection of STEMES participants through the Online Community Center. Leaders: Weintraub (Vanderbilt); Ayorinde (Howard).
VII.e. CIRTL Network Seed Grant Program
A measure of a vital learning community is the generation of new ideas and initiatives, particularly by later-generation members. We propose a Seed Grant program for development, implementation, and evaluation of professional development ideas throughout the Network. These grants will provide $5K–$20K per project to support expenses ranging from materials to a graduate student assistant for 6 months. These grants also will leverage institutional matching funds. Allocations will be based on brief proposals, and be prioritized by a selection committee on originality, impact, sustainability, and potential benefit to the entire Network and beyond. Requirements will include integration of the CIRTL pillars and taking part in the CIRTL Network Exchange Program for dissemination.
We envision that Seed Grants will nurture the nascent learning communities on each campus and across the network by lowering barriers and positively reinforcing engagement of new STEM graduates-through-faculty with the Network. Leader: Mathieu (UW); Eckberg (Howard).
VII.f. Enhancement of Diversity in STEM
Learning-through-diversity is threaded throughout all facets of the Network. In addition, two Network initiatives focus specifically on addressing the diversity of STEM future faculty and enhancing the skills of STEM future faculty for teaching successfully to diverse student audiences.
First, we propose that the distance-learning courses will provide professional development for underrepresented minority students beyond the CIRTL Network. Minorities are nearly 50% more likely than their majority counterparts to earn a master’s degree, often at minority-serving master’s institutions, and then switch institutions for the PhD (Lange, 2006). This path can result in students’ having little teaching experience or development. The CIRTL Network distance-learning courses can help fill this gap. For example, Vanderbilt and Fisk University have developed, with NSF funding, the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge program (www.physics.vanderbilt.edu/bridge), and in fall 2006 Fisk students participated in the distance College Classroom course. Vanderbilt seeks to extend their bridge to other minority-serving institutions through distance-learning STEM courses. The Network courses are a natural complement by which minority students can gain preparation in teaching and learning. Equally important, all students in the Network will benefit from the enhanced diversity of these distance-learning experiences. Leader: Stassun (Vanderbilt).
Second, we wish to extend the CIRTL Diversity Resources through a Learning-through-Diversity in Action (LtDA) portal. After participating in Delta or interacting with the CIRTL Diversity Resources, graduates-through-faculty are aware of the diversity of their students but feel limited in how they can act. Building on the Online Community Center, the LtDA will be a hub for the Network community to collect, discuss, and disseminate learning-through-diversity practices from within and beyond the Network. The portal will capitalize on and provide connectivity to the NSF AGEP pro-grams at CU, Howard, MSU, and PSU/UW. Leader: Chris Carlson-Dakes (Delta, Assoc. Director).
VII.g. CIRTL Network Initiative: Preparing STEM Faculty to Prepare K–12 STEM Teachers
A network of universities with diverse knowledge, experiences, and programs has the capability of taking on large-scale initiatives not otherwise possible. The CIRTL Diversity Institute demonstrated such capabilities of a network (at the time, MSU, PSU, and UW). Here, we propose a second cross-network initiative focused on the role of STEM faculty in encouraging and preparing K–12 teachers.
Calls for improvement of STEM education (e.g., the American Competitiveness Initiative) place great responsibility on K–12 teachers and those who prepare them to teach. Many STEM faculty are involved, directly or indirectly, with K–12 teacher preparation. Directly, STEM faculty shape the content understanding of preservice teachers. Additionally, STEM courses provide preservice teachers with experiences that help shape their beliefs and attitudes about STEM teaching as a practice and a profession. Yet, few graduates-through-faculty learn about this important arena of their teaching.
This CIRTL Network Initiative will begin to address this need by developing and implementing materials and programs to increase STEM graduate-through-faculty preparation for their roles in K–12 teacher preparation. We propose to design opportunities so that graduates-through-faculty:
• become aware (or more aware) of the important roles they play in K–12 teacher preparation;
• learn of strategies for increasing the learning of STEM content by preservice teachers; and
• learn of strategies for enhancing attitudes toward and interests in K–12 teaching.
The research foundations for this project will be two. First, the project team will distill findings from a wide array of programs (most NSF funded) at Network institutions, such as the PhysTEC and Learning Assistant programs at CU, the PROM/SE Math and Science Partnership (MSP) and Teachers for a New Era at MSU, the Information Technology in Science CLT at Texas A&M, preservice Teacher Professional Continuum programs at Vanderbilt and UW, the SCALE MSP at UW, and GK –12 programs at almost every Network university. Second, the team will review broadly the research literature, Web sites, and project-generated materials, e.g. from the NSF CETP programs.
Next, the project team will synthesize and translate its findings into products readily accessible to STEM graduates-through-faculty. In analogy to previous work (CIRTL Diversity Resources; Field-tested Learning Assessment Guide, www.flaguide.org), products may include a primer on preservice teacher preparation; personal stories to help raise STEM faculty awareness of their roles; a compendium of positive classroom practices and case studies; and links to other resources. These materials and associated programs will be embedded in the CIRTL Network learning communities and disseminated nationwide. Leaders: Speer (MSU); Noah Finkelstein (Physics, CU); Shepherd (Vanderbilt); James Stewart (Curriculum & Instruction, UW).
VIII. The Transition from Future Faculty to Current Faculty
It remains an open question how CIRTL graduate and postdoctoral experiences will manifest themselves in future faculty positions. Will the employing college or university support innovative teaching practices and teaching-as-research? How will CIRTL Network graduates handle the challenges they encounter? Given a horizon of only 4 years after the start of Delta, answering these questions was not part of the initial CIRTL strategic plan, although our longitudinal study recognizes their critical importance. Beginning to address the issue of transition is in the purview of this proposal.
VIII.a. Interface with Project Kaleidoscope
STEM faculty development in teaching and learning has been the focus of nationwide initiatives for more than 2 decades. These initiatives, many funded by NSF, have been largely invisible to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at research universities. Our objective is to make them visible to grad students and postdocs in the CIRTL Network, and then to smoothly transition these future faculty into the national teaching and learning community of colleges and universities.
As a prototype for this idea, CIRTL will collaborate with Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL), a leading national initiative for building and sustaining strong undergraduate programs in STEM. We propose two points of activity at the interface between the CIRTL Network and PKAL. Leaders: Jeanne Narum (PKAL; see letter of support) and Mathieu (UW); Barnicle (CIRTL); Rankin (CU).
PKAL leadership institutes. PKAL summer leadership institutes (with support from NSF) presently provide for new faculty (a) overviews of national issues that shape the context for the work of STEM faculty, (b) discussions about faculty roles, including defining how STEM is taught and dealing with departmental and institutional processes, (c) experiential learning exercises in which participants begin to translate leadership theory into practice, and (d) personal mentoring by a senior national STEM leader. We propose to work with PKAL to adapt the leadership institutes to serve the needs of CIRTL Network senior graduate students and postdocs. CU also has focused on developing faculty leadership skills as part of their NSF-funded ADVANCE award (Rankin, PI) and will assist in this adaptation. Specifically, we will hold five leadership institutes, each for 20 future faculty. These institutes will serve several strategic purposes: (a) to prepare future faculty to succeed in and influence the higher education environment in which they land; (b) to establish a connection with PKAL before they become faculty, so they will have a community and resources to support their approaches to teaching as they arrive in their new positions; and (c) to build personal connections with other future faculty of like mind throughout the Network that will last into their faculty careers.
PKAL mentors. Members of the PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century (F21) network are identified early in their careers as demonstrating promise for STEM leadership on their campus and nationally. More than a decade after the network’s founding, over 1,100 F21 faculty teach in liberal arts colleges and comprehensive universities across the country, and nearly 300 F21 members serve in senior academic administrative positions. We propose to link the CIRTL Network with the F21 network. Specifically, CIRTL and PKAL will pair senior graduate students, postdocs, and new faculty graduated from the CIRTL Network with F21 mentors (often at the same campus or nearby) who can provide experienced guidance on seeking a faculty position, interviewing, shaping a new class with new pedagogies, setting up a research lab and grants, balancing life and work, achieving tenure, etc. PKAL also will create a task force of F21 faculty who will coordinate conversations within the Online Community Center about issues of general importance to new faculty. This goal will be supported by an existing F21 archive of reflective essays, lists of “how-to’s,” and other resources for new faculty. Finally, PKAL and CIRTL will integrate the new faculty into the array of PKAL faculty development activities. In return, the F21 community will realize an influx of members who have the mindset, passion, and expertise to make integrating research and teaching central to their scholarly agenda.
VIII.b. CIRTL Network Online Learning Community: After Graduation
An online learning community minimizes the importance of the location of a participant. Thus, a graduate student or postdoc who finishes at a Network university and moves elsewhere need not leave the Network learning community. The Online Community Center will allow new faculty to continue to draw support, assistance, and vitality from the CIRTL Network learning community. Also, the Online Community Center will provide ongoing connection during the break in teaching experience of many post-doctoral positions. Over time the numbers of new faculty in the online community will become substantial. We anticipate the development of both horizontal and vertical connections among generations, with collaborations among faculty and mentoring support of future faculty (perhaps in association with MentorNet (www.mentornet.net) in which many Network universities participate). The online community will become a national, intergenerational, interdisciplinary learning commun-ity for future and current faculty with common roots in the CIRTL pillars and the CIRTL Network.
Evaluation of initiatives at and among seven universities requires clear questions and an efficient process. Our plan uses the network to advantage by distributing involvement and responsibility across institutions, while keeping evaluation distinct from program implementation. Our strategy involves two elements: (a) an Evaluation Team (ET; Ann Austin, MSU, and Mark Connolly, UW) that plans, guides, and coordinates the collection of evaluation data, conducts meta-analyses across institutional and program data, and develops evaluation findings; and (b) the commitment of institutional leaders and leaders of cross-network programs to collect and report data to the ET. Thus, the plan provides for data gathering from every institution and initiative, and the distance, objectivity, and expertise of a designated ET. An outside evaluation consultant will serve as auditor, offering advice and assessing credibility of the ET findings. We will evaluate achievement of the four project goals as follows:
Goal 1: Establish graduate-through-faculty learning communities at Network universities.
Evaluation Question 1: To what extent and in what ways have learning communities that promote, support, and sustain the improvement of teaching and learning practice (and are founded on CIRTL pillars) been established at each Network institution? Sub-Questions: What is the extent of participation by graduate students and postdocs, and what is the impact on them? How does institutional context relate to the nature of the learning communities within each university? What impact does institutional participation in the CIRTL Network have within each university? Strategies: (a) Compile annual institution program portraits with synopses of CIRTL-related programs (descriptions of programs; the ways in which programs fit within broader institutional efforts for future faculty; impacts at the institution, college, and department levels; number of participants). Baseline institution portraits, epoch 2006, are completed. Portraits will be analyzed for change across the years of the grant. (b) Conduct annual telephone interviews with CIRTL institutional leaders and selected administrative leaders, faculty, and student participants. Interviews will focus on development of CIRTL institutional programs and the impact of Network participation on university efforts to prepare STEM future faculty for teaching. Interviews will contribute to institutional case narratives. (c) Administer a survey to participants across institutions who have participated in significant ways in CIRTL institutional programs to assess impact on participants’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding teaching and learning. The survey will adapt existing instruments used to assess the impact of Delta on UW participants, and will be conducted in 2010 (Year 8).
Goal 2: Establish a cross-network learning community.
Evaluation Question 2: To what extent and in what ways has a cross-network learning community been established and affected preparation of graduates-through-faculty for teaching? Sub-Questions: What cross-Network programs have been created? What did the Network enable that otherwise would not have happened (beyond local programs)? How many graduates-through-faculty were affected, and what was the impact on their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors? How did the diversity of the Network affect their development? Strategies: (a) Track number and type of Network programs created and number of participants in each program. (b) Interview CIRTL Network leaders and CIRTL institutional leaders to examine what the Network accomplishes beyond supporting programs at each institution. (c) Conduct meta-analysis of evaluation data collected by leaders of each cross-Network program (with ET guidance) to determine the impact on participants in cross-Network programs.
Goal 3: Foster transitions from CIRTL graduate programs into faculty positions.
Evaluation Question 3: To what extent are graduates of CIRTL Network universities able to sustain and implement their concepts, practices, and attitudes as they transition to faculty positions? Sub-Questions: In what ways does connection to national faculty development programs prepare for and facilitate being an early-career faculty member? In what ways does the CIRTL Network online learning community assist the transition to faculty positions? Strategies: (a) Interview a large sample of CIRTL Network graduates about their transition experience. (b) Analyze longitudinal study interview data from the perspective of career transition.
Goal 4: Enhance graduate education in teaching and learning at other universities.
Evaluation Question 4: How is the CIRTL Network affecting the national landscape (e.g., enhancing preparation in teaching and learning at universities beyond the network, encouraging national conversations about graduate education)? Strategies: Monitor (a) requests for information and requests to participate in or fully join the Network; (b) evidence that CIRTL ideas and products are recognized and used nationally; (c) use of Web-based information; and (d) requests for presentations and publications in major disciplinary venues.
This evaluation will have several impacts: (a) the ET will provide formative data to the Leadership Team that will help guide the project; (b) evaluation findings will enable internal and external stakeholders to determine how the project is meeting its four goals; and (c) evidence will be available for other institutions to determine the value of the CIRTL approach to preparing future faculty.
X. National Dissemination
The goal of our multifaceted dissemination plan is to enhance the preparation in teaching and learning of STEM future faculty through national use of our ideas, programs, and materials:
CIRTL Forums. The 2007 CIRTL Forum will focus on current graduate student paths toward becoming excellent teachers. We propose a 2010 Forum on implementing learning-through-diversity.
CIRTL Briefs. This new initiative will create four-page, easily accessible presentations of key CIRTL outcomes and research findings. The primary target audience is graduate deans and staff. The first CIRTL Brief, now drafted, will be on Designing Strategies to Prepare Future STEM Faculty. Other topics in queue include Creating a Graduate Learning Community, Needs Assessment in Graduate Professional Development, and Meeting the NSF Broader Impact Criterion.
Presentations. Our primary initiatives during this grant will be to increase emphasis on disciplinary dissemination and to expand the speaker base throughout the Network.
Publications. Our goal during this grant will be to expand the points of origin throughout the Network of papers based on project research, outcomes results, and teaching-as-research results.
CIRTL Web site. The CIRTL Web site (www.cirtl.net) provides access to CIRTL news and resources, such as the CIRTL course and program guidebooks.
Outreach products for prospective students and faculty advisors. Best practices for professional development of graduate students will be developed into outreach materials, such as brochures distributed to rising graduate students and made available on Web sites of Network universities.
Alumni. Soon PhDs from the CIRTL Network universities will be a primary dissemination channel. CIRTL graduates who become faculty at research universities will take an active role in establishing CIRTL-like opportunities for their students. Graduates who become faculty at undergraduate colleges will look for CIRTL-like skills in faculty applicants, and encourage their undergraduates to attend graduate school where CIRTL-like opportunities are available and valued.
CIRTL set the goal of creating a highly interactive, collegial management structure across a network of three universities, while maintaining clear lines of authority and responsibility necessary to ensure quality, accountability, direction, and leadership. The project achieved this goal, and CIRTL has achieved its objectives on schedule and on budget. We build on that management structure here.
The organizational structure of CIRTL comprises a director; project manager and central staff at the UW Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER); institutional leaders with responsibility for the local activities of each institution; initiative leaders for cross-network activities; and an independent Evaluation Team. Mathieu, the CIRTL director, has primary responsibility for the project, including management, budget, and accomplishment of the scope of work. He is advised by a Leadership Team of the co-PIs and Project Manager Barnicle. The Leadership Team provides oversight of CIRTL work; ensures coordination of activities with each other and with the project mission; identifies and implements improvements; and plans future strategic directions.
CIRTL Network operations and coordination are the responsibility of Barnicle and a central office. As Network Coordinator (50%), Barnicle is responsible for overseeing the Network communication infrastructure, coordinating campus activities around the Network, and supporting cross-network activities. As CIRTL Project Manager (50%), Barnicle is responsible for oversight of budgetary matters, subcontract management with Network universities, administrative relations with NSF, and personnel issues with WCER. She is supported by a central staff (1.5 FTE) and student hourlies.
Multiple layers of inter-institutional connectivity are essential to CIRTL’s success. Cross-network communication occurs at weekly Leadership Team teleconferences, Barnicle’s semi-monthly meetings with graduate assistants on each campus, and monthly CIRTL Network meetings of leaders and colleagues. These lines of communication have developed in response to expressed needs, continue under their own momentum, and are vital to coordinated progress throughout the project.
CIRTL has a National Advisory Board (NAB) of representatives from all types of institutions of higher education and national higher education centers (http://www.cirtl.net/leaders/nab). The NAB provides external perspective on the project at annual meetings and contributes at other times in substantive ways to the success of CIRTL. The beginning of Network operations is a natural time to refresh the membership of the NAB. In that process, we will (a) ensure that the NAB can advise CIRTL on the teaching needs and concerns of the array of institutions that hire STEM PhDs and (b) maintain STEM disciplinary connections by having research-active STEM faculty on the NAB.
Finally, during this grant we will create a Graduate Dean Advisory Board comprised of the graduate deans of each university. The goals of their annual meetings will include direct communication with the NAB, enhanced awareness at each campus of the activities on the others, and discussions of the future directions and institutionalization of the CIRTL Network.
XII. Impact and Future of the CIRTL Network
We set as a goal that, by 2010, 1200 graduates-through-faculty will newly participate each year in the Network learning communities. This goal is based on the established outcome that ≈ 300 graduates-through-faculty newly participate each year in the Delta Program in Research, Teaching, and Learning, a mature CIRTL learning community, and then scaling by graduate student populations to all Network universities.
Beyond 2010, institutionalization of the CIRTL Network will come from (1) member universities and (2) participant funding from research grants, training grants, and research centers. Institutional support already is evident in the letters of support and the institutional contributions they cite, in the collaborations with existing institutional programs, and in the number of faculty and campus leaders committing their time. The institutionalization of the Delta Program and the STEMES Program are cases in point. Participant-based funding will come from the federal demand for broader impact and for preparation of the academic workforce. For example, Network Exchange participants may be funded in part by CAREER grantees required to disseminate teaching-as-research outcomes. Finally, the evaluation work will further institutionalization by establishing the impact of the CIRTL Network (e.g., monitoring participation and demonstrating effectiveness).
The initial seven universities of the CIRTL Network produce 7% of the nation’s STEM PhDs (NSF, 2006). Beyond 2010, the CIRTL Network will grow to a larger number of universities and future faculty. We already have deferred university requests to join the Network until completion of the work proposed here. The CIRTL Network will also impact on individual universities that implement CIRTL ideas without an explicit connection to the CIRTL Network. Stanford University is a case in point, as described in the letter of support from Sheri Sheppard (Mechanical Engineering, Stanford). Finally, the success of the CIRTL Network will inspire other networks of similar design. Graduate students at research universities become the STEM faculty of the nation. Ultimately, the impact of the proposed work will be to provide to every undergraduate institution STEM faculty who enable all students to achieve STEM literacy, whose teaching enhances recruitment into STEM careers, and whose leadership ensures the continued advance of STEM education.
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