Using Data-Driven Faculty Professional Development To Promote Change In Undergraduate Education

Thursday 10:30am - 11:00am Brighton 1/2
Oral Presentation

Gili Marbach-Ad, University of Maryland-College Park
Carly Hunt, University of Maryland-College Park
Patrick Sheehan, University of Maryland-College Park
Kaci Thompson, University of Maryland-College Park
Employers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields report that recent graduates are deficient in important workplace skills (e.g., collaboration, professional writing). This has motivated widespread reform of STEM education to emphasize evidence-based, student-centered teaching approaches over teacher-centered approaches. This in turn has necessitated the development of new faculty programs for professional development in teaching and methods to accurately measure the impact of changing teaching practices. This study investigates the use of locally-derived student data to catalyze faculty member professional development. We developed and validated the Survey of Teaching Beliefs and Practices for Undergraduates (STEP-U) and used it to assess the extent to which students value specific workplace-related skills (e.g., scientific writing), as well as their experiences with teaching practices (e.g. writing assignments) thought to reinforce such skills. We collected data from undergraduate seniors (2012-2016; N=2405) in 10 STEM departments at a large research university. We also conducted 25 semi-structured interviews with students from the 5 largest majors. Our analyses showed that, while students in different STEM disciplines were in agreement on the value of some cross-disciplinary skills, for other skills there were significant disciplinary differences in values. Within some disciplines, differences in values were also associated with differences in demographic characteristics, student classroom experiences, and undergraduate research experience. Next, since departments play a pivotal role in change efforts, we attended departmental faculty meetings to survey faculty members regarding the extent to which they valued these same skills. At this time we also shared our findings from student surveys and discussed the implications of those findings for undergraduate instruction. This process has catalyzed collaborations among faculty members and Teaching and Learning Center staff, and has spawned a multi-institutional collaboration to study how locally derived data on student values and experiences can be used to inform faculty professional development.