Bay View Alliance: Building Cultures of Teaching Improvement

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Title of Abstract: Bay View Alliance: Building Cultures of Teaching Improvement

Name of Author: Whitney Schlegel
Author Company or Institution: Indiana University Bloomington
Author Title: Associate Professor of Biology
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Introductory Course(s)
Approaches: Mixed Approach
Keywords: Networked Improvement Communities, Cultures of Teaching, Foundational Courses, Course Redesign

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Mary Huber, Bay View Alliance Pat Hutchings, Bay View Alliance Linda Slakey, AAC&U Whitney Schlegel, Indiana University Bloomington Lorne Whitehead, University of British Columbia

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The Bay View Alliance is an emerging network of seven research universities in the United States and Canada dedicated to accelerating the adaptation, exploration, and effective integration of methods of instruction that support improved student learning. Partner institutions currently include University of British Columbia, University of Texas Austin, University of Kansas, Indiana University Bloomington, Queens University, University of Saskatchewan, and University of California Davis. Launched in 2012, the BVA grew out of the widely recognized need to improve undergraduate STEM education, and aims to contribute to knowledge about leadership practices and activities that support a productive culture of teaching improvement in research universities. To do so, the BVA adapts key concepts and practices of improvement science consistent with those established by the Vision and Change Report (2011) and applies them to the leadership challenges entailed in seeking better undergraduate learning outcomes in the distinctive culture of the research university. The BVA is organized as a Networked Improvement Community – an approach that connects committed people from all levels of each of the partner universities in a process of building a shared understanding of the problems we are trying to address, the changes we might introduce, and how we will know those changes are improvements.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: The central method of the project is the use of clusters of institutions (Research Action Clusters – RACs) to develop hypotheses for interventions, test them at multiple sites, compare results, and in turn make new hypotheses in an improvement cycle yielding robust results that can have widespread applicability. Three RACs are currently planned. The first, (RAC1) led by the University of Kansas, will bring new resources to departments to improve conceptual learning in foundational courses; the second, (RAC2) led by Queens University will provide external help to departments to improve students’ development of 21st century skills; the third, (RAC3) led by the University of California at Davis will provide external help to departments to engage faculty in enhanced study of student outcome data. For each, the research hypothesis is that the expected improvements in student learning will be accompanied by important changes in faculty behavior, expectations and attitudes that will enhance the long term sustainability of these efforts. RAC 1, launching fall 2013, is investigating a change model derived from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI) at the University of British Columbia, which leaders there believe is leading to sustainable change in unit attitudes toward teaching and in actual teaching practices. In the BVA version, the six participating campuses will each implement programs that bring human and financial resources to the redesign of foundational courses to yield enhanced rates of success and deeper learning.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: Campuses participating in RAC1 will draw from a common set of measures that track teaching practice, teaching attitudes and culture, and student success. Using a combination of survey methodology and departmental case studies, this project will examine the following constructs over a three year period. 1. Campus teaching climate and culture 1a. Resources and time for teaching development 1b. Honor for teaching in the personnel system – hiring, merit, tenure & promotion 1c. Existing typical teaching practices, every day and awarded versions 1d. Campus values about the importance of teaching 2. Perceptions and attitudes 2a. Faculty perception of climate and culture around teaching 2b. Faculty attitudes toward responsibility for learning 2c. Faculty attitudes toward role of teaching in promotion & tenure 2d. Faculty reports of the use of evidence-based teaching practices 3. Institutional programs, including but not limited to the specific intervention that is the object of this study, and 4. Academic leaders who distribute resources and shape personnel priorities. Other indicators may include personnel policies, program reviews, data on student success, evidence from and about unit and campus level assessment practices and use, and selected examination of student learning. Evaluation will focus on determining what academic leadership steps were effective in launching the cluster, managing its interaction with the rest of the BVA network, and bringing about widespread implementation of effective teaching practices across the cluster members.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: Ultimately, both formative and summative evaluation of the work of RAC1 will focus on the most important results. Has there been a more widespread adoption of research-based pedagogy in selected units? Have there been changes in faculty behavior, attitudes and expectations that will favor the continuation of such improved pedagogy beyond the period of this study? Have there been measureable improvements in student outcomes in redesigned courses – conceptual growth, completion, enrollment in subsequent science courses? Is there a reason to think that the interventions conducted under the auspices of the BVA have contributed to that improvement? And, finally, has the networked structure of the BVA---both within and beyond this particular RAC – contributed to these results and created an infrastructure for long-term improvement? Working with a set of accomplished institutions bringing significant pedagogical pedigrees and assets to the table, our aim is to build a robust international network for the development and spread of powerful new practices in teaching and learning.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: We have not encountered any unexpected challenges to date.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: The BVA plans to broadly disseminate the results of its research through publications in scientific and academic journals, as well as presentations at academic conferences, in the media, and on its website. More powerfully, the BVA is itself a network of seven universities (with plans to grow to ten), that will catalyze adoption of its findings among its members, and other institutions that may choose to affiliate with its RACs. In addition to its partner universities, the BVA is connected to many of the key university associations in the US and Canada. For example, leaders from the Association of Public Land Grant Universities, the Reinvention Center, and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario are on the BVA Steering Committee, and the BVA is coordinating closely with the Association of American Universities’ STEM initiative. Together, these networked activities will amplify the reach of the BVA’s research outcomes and serve as helpful ongoing dissemination channels.

Acknowledgements: The BVA gratefully acknowledges funding support so far from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Teagle Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, and the Sloan Foundation. Leadership for the larger BVA effort is provided through a ‘Hub,’ which includes Lorne Whitehead (principal investigator); Dan Bernstein, Mary Taylor Huber, Pat Hutchings, and Linda Slakey (all senior advisors); Katrina Evans (development advisor); David Stewart (program advisor); and Rowena Veylan (program manager).