PKAL Volume IV: What Works, What Matters, What Lasts

Building Community

April 26, 2007

Building community is both process and product of efforts toward institutional transformation, particularly when the focus is on the quality of student learning in mathematics and the various fields of science and engineering (STEM).

Building community is both a process and product of efforts toward institutional transformation, particularly when the focus is on the quality of student learning in mathematics and the various fields of science and engineering (STEM).

Over the years, PKAL leaders have explored the essential characteristics of a community that ‘works,’ recognizing that whatever challenges or opportunities facing campus leaders– to nurture faculty, shape or reshape programs, policies, spaces and/or budgets– the nature of the learning community must have highest priority. Understanding how students think about learning is one critical step in building robust 21st century undergraduate STEM learning communities. This can be done in many ways, by: reviewing responses of your students on NSSE surveys; interviewing students in classes in which 21st pedagogies are being adapted; and having conversations with pedagogical pioneers on your campus about their experiences with students.

We present here examples of such approaches, which will be explored further during the 2007 PKAL Summer Institute and during the Facilities Planning Seminar that follows the Institute.