ASCN Blog

How Does Your Professional Organization Lead Positive Change?


Posted: Jan 5 2018 by
Pamela Brown
CUNY New York City College of Technology
Pamela Brown, CUNY New York City College of Technology
Institutional Change: Change Leaders, Assessment
Target Audience: Tenured/Tenure-track Faculty, Institution Administration, Non-tenure Track Faculty, College/University Staff
Program Components: Outreach:Policy Change

We are creating resources for the ASCN Working Group 4: Demonstrating Impact and others, interested in higher education systemic change efforts, by soliciting responses to important questions.

This month's question is related to professional organizations. We are interested to learn about activities different professional organizations in STEM disciplines are using to accelerate change.

Professional organizations/societies may have the authority, relationships and access to data to implement positive changes in specific disciplines. One example of an organization actively engaged with this mission is the Research Advisory Group of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences.

The report "The Role of Scientific Societies in STEM Faculty Workshops" recommended by Charles Henderson in his contribution is a great resource that provides insights into faculty professional development workshops across STEM disciplines.

The December/January question:

How does your professional organization try to lead positive change? What changes have your professional organization led or you would like to see them lead? More

How Do We Convince Administrators that Program Assessment is Worth the Effort?


Posted: Dec 5 2017 by
Archie Holmes
University of Virginia-Main Campus
Archie Holmes, University of Virginia
Institutional Change: Assessment
Target Audience: Institution Administration, College/University Staff
Program Components: Institutional Systems:Strategic Planning, Degree Program Development

In November ASCN Working Group 4: Demonstrating Impact leaders selected a question submitted by the registrants for the ASCN Webinar titled "Launching and Leading Change in STEM Education" - Effective program assessment is hard. How do we convince administrators that it is worth the effort? We thought this question would be of interest to the larger higher education community and asked members of working group 4 to respond to this question.

Share below in the comment section how you are addressing this question at your institution, or to engage in a discussion. In addition, if there are any questions you would like us to address in the coming months, please share them here or email them to Inese, the ASCN Project Manager.

Effective program assessment is hard. How do we convince administrators that it is worth the effort? More

Academic Advising: Leverage Point for Systemic Change Initiatives?


Posted: Nov 29 2017 by
Sean Bridgen
Pennsylvania State Univ-Penn State New Kensington
Sean Bridgen, Pennsylvania State University-New Kensington
Institutional Change: Policy
Target Audience: Tenured/Tenure-track Faculty, Institution Administration, Non-tenure Track Faculty, College/University Staff
Program Components: Professional Development:Advising and Mentoring, Supporting Students:Academic Support, Professional Preparation

I am beginning my sixteenth year as an academic adviser; I have worked at large research universities, a small state college, and a small private college. My experiences and scholarly work have taught me that the day-to-day decisions academic advisers make can have a significant impact on how the university functions. Academic advising is structurally designed to include one on one conversations with students regarding the direction of their education, what their current challenges are, what they have learned, and what they want to learn in the future. As a result of this structure, advisers are uniquely positioned to have in-depth conversations about the university's mission, and why the curriculum is structured the way it is; this unique position can also allow advisers to function as a leverage point for change initiatives. More

Communicating and Collaborating Across Disciplines


Posted: Nov 27 2017 by
Judith Ramaley
Portland State University
Judith Ramaley, Portland State University
Target Audience: Institution Administration, Tenured/Tenure-track Faculty, College/University Staff, Non-tenure Track Faculty
Program Components: Professional Development:Curriculum Development

Those of us who are working on ways to attract students to the study of STEM fields must design a curriculum that prepares our students to understand and manage complex problems where scientific knowledge interacts with other ways of looking at the world. This means finding ways to work across disciplinary boundaries so that these problems can be studied in their broader social, political and environmental context. Boyd (2016, p. B4) argues that "if we really want to matter, we need to think critically about the questions we ask—and the questions we don't ask—and what influences that distinction." The questions we ask have powerful effects on how we design the curriculum, what we expect of ourselves and our students and how we work together with colleagues in our own department as well as other fields to prepare our graduates to live and work in a changing and uncertain world. More

Beyond the Diversity Status Quo


Posted: Nov 2 2017 by
Stephen Secules
University of Georgia
Stephen Secules, University of Georgia
Institutional Change: Change Leaders, Equity and Inclusion
Target Audience: Institution Administration, College/University Staff, Non-tenure Track Faculty, Tenured/Tenure-track Faculty
Program Components: Professional Development:Diversity/Inclusion

The arc of history is long but it bends towards freedom. - Martin Luther King Jr.

Most of us who work in equity and inclusion have an orientation towards wanting to make progress towards systemic change. There is a shared acknowledgement of past injustice, present struggle, and persistent hope. Consistent with the ASCN, those who work in equity and inclusion in higher education are often seeking long term, sustainable transformations of their institutions.

And yet, higher education institutions also prize stability and can be remarkably slow to change. Equity and inclusion concerns get framed as issues for committees and task forces, which eventually become standing entities rather than forces empowered to make radical change. Diversity work feels at risk to budget cuts and to voicing unpopular truths. Overworked and underfunded, the point people for equity and inclusion in an institution can take up somewhat conservative goals: retaining individuals who are underrepresented in a discipline can turn into a standing effort to at least not lose the little bit of diversity left in the department. Although its proponents are often oriented towards transformation, it can seem like higher educational diversity work is far removed from the work of systemic change.

In my dissertation I made calls for going "Beyond Diversity as Usual" in undergraduate engineering work, using new research approaches and new ways of conceptualizing institutional practice (Secules, 2017a). Here are a few directions from my work and others' that may help move towards systemic change in the institutional diversity landscape: More

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