January 10, 2003

Building strong learning environments...
...requires attention of the entire campus community, not just of a few passionate, but isolated, individuals or groups of individuals. One central PKAL activity directed toward catalyzing institution-wide action is the consulting services supported by a grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation.

These Keck/PKAL Consultancies have had a significant role in the work of reform on over 100 colleges and universities over the past few years, providing guidance in undertaking an agenda for action crafted at one or more of the NSF-sponsored PKAL workshops.

Institutions desiring a consultancy must analyze their current circumstances and progress toward reform, and identify specific issues that they desire expert advice in addressing. From this institutional self-analysis and the campus visit to meet with stakeholders, consultants make recommendations based on their experience with and knowledge about what works on other campuses wrestling with similar challenges.

From reviewing the PKAL archives of these consultant reports, one finds a few common barriers to exploring and implementing new approaches to reform at the institutional level, including the lack of:

  • open, respectful and frequent discussions among faculty, and between faculty and administrators, about issues that matter, with suspicion of or no interest in, ideas of others

  • visible leadership in regard to: creating space and time for dialog; encouraging risk-taking; and/or providing the tangible resources (including time) needed to move ahead

  • attention to the future, to the changing context for undergraduate programs generally and for their campus community specifically.

When such barriers are not present or are removed, these can be seen as descriptions of institutions that work. The role of the consultants is to further efforts toward that end.

For further materials from recent reports, go here.


Evaluating and Improving Undergraduate Teaching in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
National Research Council

Events & News

February 3, 2003
Disciplinary Society-Educational Association (DSEA) Alliance
National Academy of Sciences
Washington, DC

March 21 - 23, 2003
A PKAL Roundtable: Facilities of the Future
Cranbrook, Michigan

April 10 - 12, 2003
Planning Facilities for Science
Drury University
Springfield, Missouri

June 7 - 11, 2003
Faculty for the 21st Century Leadership Institute
The Baca Campus of The Colorado College
Crestone, Colorado