PKAL Phase VI— Empowering Faculty: Pedagogies of Engagement

With support from NSF, PKAL coordinated a series of activities that built from and extended the experience and expertise of formal and informal collaborating networks working to promote excellence in undergraduate STEM learning within their constituency. The broader impact of this project was to move the locus of transformational change to a focus on student learning goals at the broad institutional and consortial level, away from an individual faculty member. Further, it leveraged resident expertise within networks and within PKAL to accomplish larger goals relative to STEM learning than could be accomplished in isolation. The intellectual merit was its explicit connection between research-based learning strategies that strengthen undergraduate learning and “change” strategies that strengthen faculty interest and capacity in the realm of pedagogies of engagement.

The National Science Foundation awarded Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) a grant to pilot a National STEM Faculty Development project. This was a two-year effort to determine what works in collaborating with formal networks to strengthen expertise within and across networks committed to adapting, implementing, and assessing contemporary research-based approaches to strengthen student learning in STEM fields.

This project was one outcome of the recent strategic planning for PKAL's future that led to a re-articulation of PKAL's vision, goals, strategies and actions for the next decade. This project was part of PKAL's continuing effort to identify, nurture, and support leaders taking responsibility for shaping robust undergraduate STEM learning environments. The kaleidoscopic perspective drives our work: integrating research and education in shaping faculty careers; connecting the evolution and assessment of programs, pedagogies, and spaces to insights on how people learn; and building bridges that cross boundaries of discipline, institutional types, and spheres of responsibility.

A. What

The National Science Foundation awarded Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) a grant of $845,998 to pilot a National STEM Faculty Development project. This was initially an eighteen-month effort, then extended to twenty-seven months, to determine what works in collaborating with formal networks to strengthen expertise within and across networks committed to adapting, implementing, and assessing contemporary research-based approaches to strengthen student learning in STEM fields.

B. How

Project Kaleidoscope Phase VI: Encouraging Collaborations for Developing Undergraduate STEM Faculty was a leveraging project. We leveraged PKAL resources (people, ideas, and funds) with resources from existing and new national and regional networks through a coordinated sequence of activities.

C. Why

This project is one outcome of the recent strategic planning for PKAL's future that led to a re-articulation of PKAL's vision, goals, strategies and actions for the next decade. This project is part of PKAL's continuing effort to identify, nurture, and support leaders taking responsibility for shaping robust undergraduate STEM learning environments. The kaleidoscopic perspective drives our work: integrating research and education in shaping faculty careers; connecting the evolution and assessment of programs, pedagogies, and spaces to insights on how people learn; and building bridges that cross boundaries of discipline, institutional types, and spheres of responsibility.

D. Who

Working groups and Collaborating Partners were identified in the proposal submitted to NSF; these are the beginning of a larger PKAL network that will take leadership responsibility of various dimensions of this project.

E. Project Background

The goal of this pilot was to determine how to expand the awareness and informed use of contemporary pedagogies on campuses by using the resources of a formal network. There are a wide range of pedagogies that have documented success in enhancing student learning in STEM: ensuring both depth of knowledge in the field and increased skill in using tools of scientific engagement. On most campuses and within most networks there are faculty experimenting with and adapting new approaches in the classroom, be it Just-in-Time Teaching, Problem-based Learning, Personal Response Systems, etc., and there has been significant NSF investment in the development of these approaches. But such faculty often work in isolation, without the discussions, the sharing of stories, and/or the opportunity for seeing new approaches in action that reduce the need or impulse to reinvent.

F. Resources

The PKAL Pedagogic Collection: As part of the Pedagogies of Engagement initiative, PKAL has a new partnership with the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) incorporating the pedagogic services of SERC into the initiative. The initiative is leveraging SERC's existing collection of pedagogic modules and exemplary activities as well as taking advantage of SERC's model for documenting pedagogies and faculty activities online. PKAL and SERC are using these tools to engage the formal system/consortia/network of colleges and universities that are collaborating partners in the Pedagogies of Engagement initiative.