STEARNS CENTER FEATURED SESSION [for deans, chairs, curriculum coordinators] : From COVID to Change: Rethinking Supporting Teaching in Your Unit (90 mins)
NOTE: This session is designed to be both an informative panel and a planning workshop for deans, chairs, and anyone leading a group of faculty/adjunct/GTAs, common course or curriculum effort in their unit.
Mason is actively engaged in changing the culture of teaching toward more active- and inquiry-based learning forms. These forms are viewed as superior mechanisms for improving student engagement, performance, and retention, especially in STEM-based classrooms (Kogan & Laursen, 2014; Freeman et al., 2014; Laursen, Hassi, Logan, & Weston, 2014; Nelson, 2010). Through Mason’s strategic plan and its building of new active learning classrooms, the opportunities to leverage this pedagogical form are ripe. Despite this commitment, teaching change is often difficult to engender in higher education organizations. Some of this difficulty lies in the challenge of changing faculty habits and norms related to their own teaching practices (Austin, 2011). However, even if individual faculty are committed to pedagogical change, that change is also highly dependent upon departmental and institutional norms and barriers, which can act to promote or constrain change (Austin, 2011; D’Avanzo, 2013; Brownell & Tanner, 2012; Henderson et al., 2012; Sunal et al., 2001; Fairweather, 2008). There are levers that go beyond the individual and their classroom to improve the likelihood of successful pedagogical change. Among these are the use of data-driven decision making and the fostering of data cultures (Bouwma-Gearheart & Hora, 2014; Hora & Bouwma-Gearhart, 2014, 2017) and the building and leveraging of collaborations across organizational units (Kezar & Lester, 2009; Klein, 2017; Leisyte & Dee, 2012) to help leverage the information, relationships, and resources needed to enact change.
The purpose of this workshop is to use the context and learning from current work being done to enact pedagogical change to help attendees frame, consider, and plan for how relationships, resources, and data within and beyond their departments can be used in their own contexts to enact similar change.
The presenters, members of a cross-disciplinary research team, are working alongside members of course-based communities of transformation (CCTs) in Mathematics and Physics at Mason, with CCTs in Biology and Computer Science to follow. These researchers will share empirical evidence, lessons learned, and practical implications related to their National Science Foundation funded project to create department and institution-level change that supports the adoption of active learning pedagogy at Mason. As a part of this work, CCT members have had to consider and act beyond the boundaries of their individual classrooms and departments to leverage organizational data and partnerships. This project is designed to develop a university culture that values the incorporation of active learning practices in undergraduate STEM courses and programs. Attendees will develop a better sense of how to find and use data in decision making and conversations with those within and beyond their departments, including understanding and identifying course taking and retention patterns, resource needs and opportunities, and student learning and preparedness. Attendees will identify key partnership and collaborations they can continue or begin to cultivate as they work to create change in their departments and learn how to improve cross-unit collaboration. Attendees will be given time to consider the needs, strategies, and resources necessary for change in their communities and craft plans for starting that change.