Characteristics of Collaborating Communities

From analyses of the work of many colleges and universities within and beyond PKAL, we suggest that collaborating communities have identifiable characteristics:

  • A mission and vision: clearly articulated, shared and agreed-upon, woven into policies, practices, formal and informal conversations

  • Leadership within the administration and faculty: with a commitment to a vision that is translated into tangible support for colleagues taking responsibility for engineering collective efforts toward reform

  • Acknowledgment of need/opportunity: a clearly articulated, shared and agreed-upon analysis of why new approaches are needed

  • Awareness of what works: research on learning, promising practices emerging locally and nationally incorporated into planning

  • Open communication: about vision, about needs and about what works within and beyond the STEM faculty on a single campus and with colleagues and peers in other settings

  • Collegiality: interdisciplinarity both a process and attitude, respect for diverse ways of thinking about current circumstances and future opportunities

  • Institutional support: informal and formal recognition of effort toward reform and success thereof

  • Assessment: processes in place to measure impact on the quality of student learning, faculty productivity and institutional culture

  • Risk-taking spirit: persistently scouting at the frontier, considering how new societal challenges and the changing context within scientific and technological worlds afford new opportunities for their community

  • A sense of service: intent on serving larger societal goals, recognizing their responsibility to prepare students for leadership in a world increasingly dominated by science and technology.

Such collaborating communities are emerging across the country, on individual campuses and within groups linked by a commitment to a specific discipline, style of pedagogy, and/or interdisciplinary approach. Each also sees itself as part of a larger national community; they recognize the ideas generated within their own environment are tempered, strengthened and channeled more productively when examined through the prism of the experience of colleagues and peers.