National Science Foundation awards $905,141 grant to WMU researchers

Contact: Diana Hearit

July 20, 2017

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Two Western Michigan University faculty members have been awarded a $905,141 grant from the National Science Foundation to support their work on institutional change in higher education.

Drs. Charles R. Henderson, director of WMU’s Mallinson Institute for Science Education, and Andrea L. Beach, professor of education leadership, research, and technology, received the award for their project, “Accelerating Systemic Change Network: Promoting Knowledge Development to Support Institutional Change in Higher Education.” They are working with Drs. Linda L. Slakey and Maura J. Borrego.


Dr. Charles Henderson is a professor of physics and Director of the Mallinson Institute for Science Education at WMU. He is the co-founder and co-director of the WMU Center for Research on Instructional Change in Postsecondary Education.

Henderson has been trained in and has experience in qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods educational research, including survey and instrument development. His research program focuses on understanding and promoting instructional change in higher education, with much activity aimed at improving the slow incorporation of research-based instructional reforms into college-level STEM courses.

Henderson’s work has been supported by more than $7 million in external grants resulting in many publications. In spring 2010, he was a Fulbright Scholar with the Finnish Institute for Educational Research at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. He is the senior editor for the journal Physical Review Special Topics—Physics Education Research and has served as a member of the National Research Council Committee on Undergraduate Physics Education Research and Implementation.


Dr. Andrea L. Beach is a professor of education leadership, research, and technology and co-director of the Center for Research on Instructional Change in Postsecondary Education.  She founded and was director of the WMU Office of Faculty Development from 2008 to 2015. Her research centers on organizational change in higher education, support of innovation in teaching and learning, faculty learning communities, and faculty development as a change lever. She has been PI and co-PI on several NSF-funded grants focused on instructional change strategies that have produced articles and book chapters, as well as instruments to self-report instruction and academic department climate for instructional improvement.  She is most recently director of a $3.2 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s First in the World program to undertake, document, and measure outcomes of institutional transformation aimed at improving the persistence and academic success of students from low-income backgrounds.