ASCN Working Groups

Join the Network »

Much of the work of the network is structured around a set of topical working groups and each working group is focusing their efforts on one aspect of institutional change. To learn more about the working groups, read their mission statements below.

Working Group 1: Guiding Theories. How might we better support people's use of theories, models, and scholarship in their planned systemic change efforts?

People involved in STEM Education change often don't consider change theories and models or forget to consider the larger system in which they seek to make a change. This working group seeks to help people engaged in change efforts to understand change theories and models that could profitably inform systemic change work. One long-term goal of this work is to build a common framework and language, with the ultimate goal of building and sharing a strong knowledge base for change in STEM Education. More Information about this group »

Working Group 2: Costs and Benefits. What are the costs and benefits of change?

Change initiatives related to pedagogical innovation are typically analyzed in terms of financial costs to the institution and initial time investments by the faculty, while the benefits are framed in terms of improved student outcomes (generally at the course level). What is generally missing from these analyses is the potential financial benefit to the institution of improved student performance, e.g. improved retention, persistence in a major, and graduation rates, among other possible measures. Typical analyses of pedagogical change initiatives also fall short in capturing the ongoing cost of faculty time investment to use improved teaching methods beyond the initial learning curve. This working group will explore the financial and human costs and benefits of scaling and sustaining instructional changes in undergraduate STEM. In particular, techniques and expertise from economics and related social sciences will be applied to STEM higher education in ways that resonate with network members. More Information about this group »

Working Group 3: Change Leaders. Who leads change and how?

Change agents have many different job titles and come from many different levels of an organization. They may be in administrative positions with clear responsibility for undergraduate STEM education, but often they are not. 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. Little is known about the best ways to develop these skills given the many demands on change agents' time. This working group will identify important roles and activities in the change process and articulate how people in different organizational levels and positions accomplish change. They will pay particular attention to who must be engaged in change efforts, what skills they need, and how these skills can be developed. More Information about this group »

Working Group 4: Measurement and Communication. How can measurement and communication be used to promote change?

Using data for a change: This group's mission is to identify, explain and disseminate information on metrics that hold the potential to document, foster, accelerate, and communicate systemic change. Documenting, by creating empirical evidence for the effectiveness of various approaches for changes in undergraduate STEM education. Fostering, by enabling stakeholders to reflect upon and assess current conditions. Accelerating, by using existing measures more broadly and effectively and by identifying important elements of change that are not being adequately assessed. Communicating, by establishing a common language and set of expectations for studying change. Identification involves both cataloging what is available and suggesting what might be usefully developed, including the potential for a set of common change metrics. Explanation includes a discussion of the implications of each metric, illustrated by cases that describe how metrics have been used successfully to foster change. Dissemination comprises making this work readily available in an accessible format via a community-curated website. More Information about this group »

Working Group 5: Equity and Inclusion.

Attention to the full dimensions of inclusion must pervade all the work of ASCN. Across the Steering Committee and all the working groups this is partially addressed by the effort to assure participation by diverse membership, with stakeholders from all sectors of higher education. That said, 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. These communities share many goals for supporting faculty and student access and success but may have developed and operated independently of one another. This working group will explore the intersection of our understanding of inclusion with concepts of systemic change arising from other perspectives, identify common ground, and promote opportunities for collaboration. It will interact closely with the other ASCN working groups, as well as pursuing its own synthesis of knowledge. More Information about this group »

Working Group 6: Aligning Incentives with Systemic Change.

Many change efforts have identified faculty reward systems and specifically the limited value typically placed on teaching as a major barrier to instructional change, but few have directly addressed overcoming this barrier. This working group will examine the current state of evaluation of teaching and the standing it has in the overall picture of instructor performance incentives, with a focus on practice as opposed to institutional rhetoric about valuing teaching. It will also track current experiments in bringing about change that aligns rewards with evidence-based teaching, and use ASCN resources to promulgate effective approaches. This Group will work closely with Group 4 (Measurement and Communication) during its data gathering phase, but its focus will be more narrowly addressed to assessment and reward of teaching practice.