How Department Context and Institutional Factors Shape Undergraduate STEM Education Reform

Friday 12:00 pm – 12:25 pm PT / 1:00 pm – 1:25 pm MT / 2:00 pm – 2:25 pm CT / 3:00 pm – 3:25 pm ET Online
Concurrent Session

Emily Miller, Association of American Universities
Tara King, Association of American Universities
Mary Deane Sorcinelli, UMass Amherst

In this presentation, we will report on emergent findings from Leveraging the AAU STEM Education Initiative, a study aimed at examining the institutional landscape in which innovations to undergraduate STEM education take place. This research project builds on the work of the AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative. It grew out of an awareness that multiple efforts to improve undergraduate STEM education are underway on AAU campuses. What was less understood was the institutional context that influences these approaches.

Our study examined the specific approaches that individual campuses are putting in place to advance and coordinate multiple undergraduate STEM education reforms. We wanted to better understand the benefits and limitations of these approaches, and what factors influenced the implementation, institutionalization, and coordination of multiple reform efforts within a single campus to achieve sustainable change in undergraduate STEM teaching and learning.

Over a two-year period, we conducted multiple site visits at eight AAU universities, interviewing 395 individuals. We will share our emergent findings on (1) the contextual elements that shape success (or lack thereof) in achieving long-lasting improvements in STEM undergraduate education, (2) what enables or impedes the advancement and coordination of multiple undergraduate STEM education reforms on a campus, and (3) why the interactions between the department context and institutional factors are so critical to the future of successful educational reform.

This project joins the AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative's earlier research and applications to practice that identified a Framework for Systemic Change in STEM Undergraduate Teaching and Learning, Essential Questions and Data Sources for Continuous Improvement of Undergraduate STEM Teaching and Learning, and AAU's five-year status report, Progress Toward Achieving Systemic Change. These resources provide a conceptual framework, key questions, and cross-cutting strategies that institutions are engaging with and implementing to achieve systemic improvements in undergraduate STEM education.