Join an ASCN working group!

Kate White
Western Michigan University
Kate White (Western Michigan University), ASCN Research Director
published Feb 19, 2020 3:29pm

Have you been considering joining one of our working groups, but aren't sure where to start? Here you'll find updates on what each of our groups is working on and more information on how to get involved in 2020. You can join any of our working groups by filling out this short form. Keep reading to learn more about how we're exploring theories of change; the costs, benefits, and impact of change; change leadership; equity and inclusion in systemic change; aligning faculty work with change; and learning spaces.

Are you interested in change theory/theories of change?

Working Group 1: Guiding Theories

This group is working towards the goals of building a common language around change theory and building community among change researchers. Co-leaders Tessa Andrews and Dan Reinholz brought together early career researchers at the Breaking Down Silos meeting in 2019 and continued the discussion at the 2019 Transforming Institutions Conference. These discussions led to their recent publication on the distinction between change theory and theory of change (included below in the publications section).

Current Projects
The group is currently developing 1-page summaries of change theories and how they are applied in the context of undergraduate STEM education reform, with the goal of making these summaries available and searchable on the ASCN site. Some examples of theories already summarized include: Teacher-Centered Systemic Reform, Theory of Planned Behavior, Diffusion of Innovations, and the Four Frames. Are you interested in learning more or getting involved? Click here to let us know and join the group and the next meeting.

Are you interested in the costs, benefits, and impacts of change?

Working Group 2/4: Costs, Benefits, and Demonstrating Impact

In 2019 the leaders of the former groups 2 and 4 realized they were working towards common goals and decided to merge the two groups. The combined focus of the group is 1. to explore the costs and benefits of implementing and scaling instructional changes at an institution; and 2. to identify, explain, and disseminate information on metrics that can foster systemic change. The leaders of the group are Pamela Brown, David Bressoud, Archie Holmes, and Lorne Whitehead.

Current Projects
The group is currently gathering more information and resources about how decision makers consider costs and benefits of instructional changes at an institution when making decisions about instructional change initiatives. The information and resources are being gathered in a document here and through a letter to colleagues, with these questions:

  • In the process of evaluating projects, have you found financial benefits that you did not anticipate in advance?
  • In what ways are these financial costs/benefits framed in terms of longer-term social consequences of instructional change?
  • Does anyone at your university have a method they use when making a decision about funding new projects or assessing existing ones?

If you are interested in collaborating on this project or exploring these topics, please join us!

Are you interested in leading change or making change happen?

Working Group 3: Change Leaders

The focus of this group is supporting change agents and those who support change agents, who may have many different job titles and come from different organizational levels. Change agents need to have skills in leading initiatives without positional power, building consensus among peers, active listening, and "managing up" to others in administrative positions. This group aims to support change agents by providing opportunities for and information that furthers professional development and access to resources. For example, the group has produced a curated list of critical resources for change agents.

Current Projects
Co-leaders Stephanie Chasteen and Gita Bangera are engaged in a few projects that support change agents. These include their ongoing webinar series, the Change Cafe (see series details below), and a quarterly newsletter (next edition coming soon! ). Previous webinars are available to view on our site.In the fall Stephanie Chasteen led an informal discussion on external evaluation for NSF grants; see more here. Right now the group is planning to hold more informal discussions, with the goal of bringing together change agents for more interactive meetings. If you would like to get involved with this group, receive the newsletter, host a webinar, or lead (or suggest) an informal discussion, click here! You can join the group and/or provide more feedback in the text box at the bottom of the form.

Are you interested in systemic changes that advance equity and inclusion?

Working Group 5: Equity and Inclusion

In early 2020 we hope to call a meeting of current members of this working group and those who might be interested in joining to discuss possible projects this group can take on in the future. ASCN's working group structure offers the opportunity to bring together communities whose work focuses on inclusion, and those that work on other aspects of systemic change (such as teaching methods that improve student conceptual understanding), for focused knowledge synthesis. Are you interested in joining this upcoming meeting? Click here to join the group!

Are you interested in changing how we evaluate faculty work?

Working Group 6: Aligning Faculty Work with Systemic Change

The purpose of this working group is to promote development of institutional cultures where continuous improvement of teaching is expected, valued, assessed, and rewarded at various stages of a faculty member's career. The group aims to illuminate the policies and practices employed in the current higher education landscape that effectively evaluate and reward the three aspects of faculty work: teaching, scholarship, and service. In 2019 co-leaders Christine Broussard and Emily Miller collaborated with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Board on Science Education (BOSE) and other groups (AAU, TEval) to organize the meeting "Recognizing and Evaluating Science Teaching in Higher Education," which was held in conjunction with the fall meeting of the NAS Roundtable on Systemic Change in Undergraduate STEM Education. A report about this meeting is available here. They have also developed critical resources for those interested in this working group.

Current Projects
In 2020 those who met in fall 2019 will reconvene, with the hopes of gathering a large and diverse group of institutions. This working group is currently engaged in two projects in order to support that goal:

  • Project 1: As they work to bring together people working in this area at the NASEM BOSE fall convening, they want to include more contacts from institutions serving traditionally marginalized students. HSIs, HBCUs, and TCUs are examples, but other institutions without those designations that serve a large proportion of historically marginalized students are also of interest. For this project, we would like to form new contacts and gather more information about a wider range of institutions than are currently in the matrix.
  • Project 2: The ASCN/AAU matrix (of strategies and initiatives to incorporate evidence beyond course evaluations in summative faculty evaluation) in its current form could be more user-friendly. We would like to highlight aspects of each listing for the user (e.g., tools, expertise) by curating the list (i.e., with a series of tags, or something similar). We could also take this opportunity to identify gaps in the knowledge that users need, which could inspire future projects.

Are you interested in collaborating with the group on these projects? Do you want to learn more? Click here to join this group!

Are you interested in the spaces where education happens?

*New* Working Group 7: Learning Spaces

This new group was formed in 2019 and Jonathan Cox is leading the group. This working group will explore the planning, creation, and use of learning spaces in higher education. In particular, the group will focus on equitable and inclusive access to learning spaces including physical and pedagogical access.

Current Projects
After a survey of group members, they are currently focused on creating project profiles of existing learning spaces projects including planning, building, assessment, and use. Are you interested in this group and/or collaborating on this project? Click here to join!

Suggested Citation:

White, K. (2020, February 20). Join an ASCN Working Group. Retrieved from

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