Within each focus area are projects that work to resolve the identified problems. Western Michigan University's Center for Research on Instructional Change in Postsecondary Education is constantly in the process of developing further projects, so please contact us if you are interested in developing a project.
Focus area 1: Facilitating change in undergraduate STEM
Project 1: Developing Instruments and Techniques to Measure Instructor Practices, Institutional Climate, and Social Networks related to Innovative Teaching
A core component of this project is to develop a valid and reliable survey instrument for STEM instructors, including part-time instructors and graduate student instructors, to measure:
- Teaching and learning approaches.
- Their perceptions of the teaching environment (i.e., climate) within their departments and the University.
- The networks of colleagues with whom they discuss issues related to teaching and learning.
Project 2: Sustainable Diffusion of Research-Based Instructional Strategies: A Rich Case Study of SCALE-UP
This project is designed to improve knowledge of the diffusion of research-based instructional strategies by conducting a rich case study of the spread of one particular research-based instructional strategy, Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs—better known as SCALE-UP. SCALE-UP was chosen because:
- It has been shown to be effective in a variety of contexts.
- It has been disseminated by the developer in multiple ways, including workshops, presentations, publications and individual consultations.
- It has spread informally from one adopter to another.
- It has crossed into multiple STEM departments at a variety of institutions.
This TUES Central Resource Project is being designed to help TUES PIs and others engaged in improving STEM education to increase the propagation of their work among undergraduate instructors in STEM and STEM departments. This goal is being pursued through the creation of more deliberate strategies by TUES applicants designed to facilitate wider adoption and adaptation of new learning materials and teaching strategies.
Project 4: The Nature and Role of Student Perceptions of (and Often Resistance to) Active Learning Instructional Strategies
While there is a lot of advice about how an instructor can minimize negative student reactions, there has been very little prior research in this area. This project will:
- Test the hypothesis that expectancy violations—differences between what students expect to experience in a class and what they actually experience—are an important cause of negative student reactions.
- Develop tools to measure student expectations in a variety of different teaching styles.
- Identify instructor practices that can shift student expectations.