This project is leveraging the core ideas and ten years of experience of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) to address the preparation of future STEM faculty to use evidence-based teaching. Although the nation has invested in understanding undergraduate learning and developing evidence-based teaching and learning practices, research shows that most current STEM faculty do not incorporate these practices into their own teaching. This project is developing the use of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and associated on-line learning modes to engage large numbers of STEM future faculty and to prepare them to implement and advance evidence-based, high-impact teaching practices. The CIRTL Network, now composed of 23 research universities that produce 22% of the nation's STEM PhDs, is well-positioned for this work, which is addressing four process objectives: (1) development of two MOOCs that prepare future STEM faculty to implement and advance evidence-based, high-impact teaching practices; (2) development and implementation within the CIRTL Network of three modes of implementation of these MOOCs: (a) Open Individual Participation; (b) MOOC-Supported Learning Communities; and (c) Blended-Learning Courses; (3) evaluation of future faculty participation and their learning of evidence-based, high-impact teaching practices across the three implementation modes; and (4) offering the MOOCs to the nation on available platforms, and disseminating supporting materials for varied implementation modes throughout the CIRTL Network and the nation.

The intellectual merit of this work is based on the design of the proposed MOOCs, which are aligned with key findings of cognitive science and discipline-based education research about student learning, such as student engagement and inquiry, collaborative learning, and the value of diversity. The MOOCs are building upon the CIRTL teaching-as-research process which involves learning what is known (including ongoing knowledge-access skills), developing a plan for teaching a scientific concept, acquiring ongoing knowledge-access skills), developing a plan for teaching a scientific concept, acquiring data on student learning, and reflective iteration. MOOC topics include: learner-centered teaching and learning practices drawn from (discipline-based) education research; information-access skills allowing future faculty to stay abreast of advancing knowledge; skills for promoting active and collaborative learning activities, such as problem-based teaching and learning, peer instruction and use of learning communities; formative and summative classroom assessment strategies; and techniques for creating inclusive learning and learning-through-diversity. Additionally, the MOOC-Supported Learning Communities and Blended-Learning Courses offer new approaches to integrate an online learning environment with supportive local learning communities in order to deepen student learning. A variety of sources of data will be collected to understand the composition of student participants, student learning, student satisfaction, and student use and adaptation of learning materials. Data will be collected using a variety of pre- and post-course assessments, as well as platform-provided metrics.

The broader impacts of this work rest on the large number of future faculty who will be prepared to use evidence-based teaching strategies through the CIRTL MOOCs. It is estimated that 1100 students will complete the CIRTL MOOCs each year. Based on a recent needs assessment within the CIRTL Network, it is estimated that there will be 200 participants per year in MOOC-Supported Learning Communities (MSLCs) from the CIRTL Network alone (with very high completion rates). Lastly, the content of the proposed MOOCs is available to anyone across the nation to reuse, revise, or redistribute into Blended-Learning courses or other learning experiences. By introducing widespread learning about evidence-based teaching practices through MOOCs, MSLCs, and Blended-Learning Courses, many more STEM future faculty across the nation will be prepared as excellent teachers.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
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Ellen Carpenter
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Michigan State University
East Lansing
United States
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