Paper No. 89-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM
LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIPS WORK BEST: LESSONS FROM TRANSFORMING CLASSROOMS THROUGH THE PRINCETON SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING EDUCATION INITIATIVE
The Council on Science and Technology at Princeton University has collaborated with Princeton faculty since 2011 to transform science and engineering courses as part of the Science and Engineering Education Initiative, which aims to inspire and prepare all undergraduates, irrespective of their majors, to become scientifically and technologically literate citizens and decision-makers. Consistent with the literature on facilitating change in undergraduate STEM education, such as Henderson et al. (2011), we have found that it is ineffective to develop and test “best practices” teaching materials, and then subsequently make them available to faculty to use. Instead, we have found the greatest success through building long-term relationships between teaching specialists and faculty, and between faculty teaching courses that share similar structures. Those relationships depend on establishing mutual respect among all stakeholders. We have also found that while some “research-validated” teaching approaches may provide a hook to engage faculty in discussion of teaching, those approaches may also be viewed by faculty as quick-fix ways to improve their courses without assessing core aspects of their teaching philosophy. Finally, we have found that student course evaluations are an important set of data for whether and how to transform courses, but they can also inhibit faculty from taking risks in their teaching. We therefore encourage faculty to work with administrators to set up long-term support structures for faculty to discuss teaching, for example through communities of practice, to develop robust plans that assess the extent to which courses impact students’ cognition and affect beyond student course evaluations, and to develop a means for faculty to transform courses without concern that initially poor evaluations will hurt promotion and tenure applications.