Understand Context

To set the stage for workshop discussions, participants are asked to be clear about the context in which their anticipated breforms will evolve. They are asked to consider the institutional context as they:

  • develop a poster that presents one or more current departmental/programmatic strengths
  • meet with other members of their department/community to compile ideas and concerns of colleagues
  • review departmental, divisional, and institutional goals, and begin to link particular reforms to larger goals
  • confirm institutional commitment to reform, working with a senior administrator.

What preparations did your team make for the workshop?

  • Developed a 'status-quo' report on who our students are
  • Surveyed the different kinds of pedagogical expertise already in department
  • Compared our individual efforts to revitalize intro courses
  • Held a departmental retreat to get all issues on the table.

Gaining a contextual understanding also requires awareness of what is happening within (and between) the disciplines, as well as in new pedagogical approaches for introductory and upper-level courses. Thus, to prepare for the workshop, teams are invited to:

  • review PKAL Volume I: What Works and other resources recommended by workshop leaders
  • investigate the PKAL Web Site for materials from previous PKAL workshops, including excerpts from agendas for action developed by other teams, reports from the Keck/PKAL consultancies, and summaries of presentations by workshop leaders

These PKAL materials, and those from other organizations working to transform undergraduate SME&T education, also suggest how to address the politics of reform.