About this Handbook

For more than a decade, Project Kaleidoscope has focused on identifying, developing, and nurturing leaders to take responsibility for transforming undergraduate programs in mathematics, engineering, technology, and the various fields of science.

This leadership thrust is woven through the workshops, special events, and publications produced by PKAL since 1991– all designed to extend and enrich the work of leaders within departments and at the institutional and national level. These activities are orchestrated by PKAL leaders who take a kaleidoscopic perspective– looking at why, how, what, where, and who– in moving toward systemic reform of undergraduate STEM. Reports on such activities are distributed regularly to the broader community in both print and electronic form.

With PKAL Volume IV: Leading toward What Works; What Matters; What Lasts..., we present a new resource for faculty and administrative leaders intent on establishing, scaling-up, and institutionalizing best practices. This handbook builds upon and expands existing PKAL materials relating to leadership in institutional transformation; it is a companion to PKAL Volume III: Structures for Science– A Handbook for Planning Facilities for Undergraduate Natural Science Communities.

In examining efforts of institutions achieving demonstrable success in transforming the STEM learning environment for students, we have looked within and beyond the PKAL community for lessons learned that can inform work in other settings, seeking to discover:

  • why did they set out to shape an agenda for reform, what problems or opportunities were catalysts for their efforts?
  • what was their vision, what made them effective as leaders within their environment?
  • what were the leverage points for scaling-up and sustaining their work?
  • what is the evidence that their work is making a difference for students and will do so over the long-term?

The title signals the major themes to be addressed in this handbook:

  • what matters is attention to the quality and character of student learning
  • what works is attention to practices that attract and sustain student interest in, and deepen their understanding of, STEM fields
  • what lasts is attention to the human, intellectual and physical infrastructure that must be in place to support a self-renewing natural science community in the undergraduate setting.

We begin by publishing this handbook electronically, inviting colleagues to join us in shaping and expanding this work-in-progress.