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Coordinating a Teaching Excellence Network: Preliminary findings from piloting Semester Support Groups that serve as bridges to span the research-to-practice divide
A substantial body of research demonstrates the benefits that reformed pedagogies have on student learning, equity, and diversity in STEM. However, implementation of reformed pedagogies remains sluggish in STEM higher education. This disconnect is in part the result of structural and cultural barriers that inhibit faculty agency when it comes to teaching and learning. Many teaching professional development programs for STEM faculty focus on developing and disseminating specific instructional ideas and practices to individual faculty through relatively brief workshops or seminars which treat faculty as receptacles of reform rather than engaging them as meaningful partners who bring unique skills and assets to the reform process. This deficit model ignores the constraints placed on faculty by the institution and fails to represent the influence of institutional structures on faculty agency. As part of an NSF-funded project to coordinate a Teaching Excellence Network at our institution, we are developing several programmatic activities to support faculty change; all activities are designed using an assets-based approach that targets faculty agency to catalyze lasting institutional and cultural change around teaching. We piloted one type of programmatic activity, Semester Support Groups (SSGs), during the Spring 2021 semester. These groups are designed to provide sustained support to a small group of faculty members using a structure that meets the intention and goals of the group (e.g., Faculty Learning Community, SIMPLE Design Group, Departmental Action Team). In this presentation, we will provide a brief overview of the grant activities, situated within the theory of change that guides our project, and discuss preliminary findings from two pilot SSGs: one on Values Affirmation Intervention and the other on Social Network Analysis.