Organization-focused Networks as Levers for Change: A Research-Based Theoretical Framework to Conceptualize and Advance their Work

Wednesday, June 16

11 am - 1 pm PT | 12 pm - 2 pm MT | 1 pm - 3 pm CT | 2 pm - 4 pm ET

Ann E. Austin, Michigan State University
Susan R. Singer, Rollins College
Vicki Baker, Albion College
Adam Grim, Michigan State University
Levi Shanks, Michigan State University
Matt Devereaux, Michigan State University

Workshop Description:

Networks are a powerful lever for advancing improvements in STEM education by leveraging sustained collaboration focused on a common goal. This workshop will provide an opportunity for ASCN attendees to learn about and discuss results from a study of major networks focused on effecting change in STEM education and to apply those findings to networks to which they might belong. The workshop will draw on a National Science Foundation-funded multi-year study of six organization-focused networks (networks of organizations or focused on change within organizational units, such as departments). Informed by theory concerning collaboration and alliances, network improvement communities, and communities of transformation, the project uses robust qualitative methods (including interviews, document analysis, participant observation, and case studies). The study has examined the features defining these networks, the processes characterizing their functioning, and the outcomes and impacts of their efforts. Furthermore, the project has been particularly attentive to the complex environmental contexts in which these networks sit, which require their attention to the interests and goals of multiple stakeholders.

The six networks studied include Advanced Technological Education (ATE Network), BVA, CIRTL, NSEC, PULSE, and the Reinvention Collaborative. We have identified key life stages of Organization-focused Change Networks (including formation, development, maturity, and transition) and Critical Challenges such networks must address at each stage (Purpose and Problem, Leadership, Membership, Governance, Communication, and Viability/Sustainability).


Participants in the workshop will:

  • Learn about and provide feedback on our Network Life Cycle Framework (including the Critical Challenges) as a tool for understanding and examining Organization-focused Networks;
  • Use NSEC as a case for testing and applying the Network Life Cycle Framework;
  • Engage in discussion of how the Framework will be useful in their institutional and network efforts to advance systemic change.