(Minneapolis) – An Augsburg University faculty team was selected as one of 10 from a competitive, national pool of applicants to participate in a new program designed to prepare faculty members to adopt active learning methods proven to be successful in teaching science.
Associate Professor of Biology Jennifer Bankers-Fulbright was the lead applicant and, along with Biology Lecturer Teresa Krause and Physics Department Chair Benjamin Stottrup, learned to implement new methods based on the research findings of Stanford University professor of physics and Nobel laureate Carl E. Wieman. These methods are designed to improve teaching effectiveness and student learning in biology, chemistry, and physics courses.
The summer 2019 seminar was offered by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and supported by a $300,000 grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation.
“The ability to think like a scientist is critical for all students, not just those who will major in STEM or plan to pursue an advanced degree,” said Richard Ekman, the CIC president. “Systematic change is needed to create the science-literate population needed to understand research-based science policy, which affects all aspects of today’s society.”
Although small colleges have long been recognized for the high percentages of their science majors who complete undergraduate degrees, earn advanced degrees, and enter STEM careers, this seminar marks the first systematic attempt to promote this powerful pedagogy among faculty members at smaller independent colleges and universities. Wieman provided the inspiration for and has been the guiding force in developing the seminars, recommending the facilitators, providing the syllabus, and shaping the process.
Despite numerous studies that have demonstrated improved effectiveness if instruction were changed from traditional lectures to more effective, active learning methods—in the sciences as in other fields—research indicates that the lecture is still the default method for many faculty members.
Each institution supported a team of four faculty members from no more than two disciplines (biology, chemistry, or physics), including at least one department or division chair or dean. The team received intensive training to prepare them to implement and assess research-based active learning methods in introductory courses in their departments when they return to campus.
The first seminar took place July 15–19, 2019, at Holy Names University in Oakland, California. After the seminar, college faculty members will participate in webinars, as well as conference calls and a site visit for each institution.
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About Augsburg. Augsburg University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and 10 graduate degrees to 3,400 students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the Twin Cities and nearby Rochester, Minnesota, location. Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. An Augsburg education is defined by excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies, guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church, and shaped by its urban and global settings. Learn more at Augsburg.edu.
The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) is an association of 770 nonprofit independent colleges and universities, state-based councils of independent colleges, and other higher education affiliates, that works to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of independent higher education’s contributions to society. CIC is the major national organization that focuses on services to leaders of independent colleges and universities and state-based councils. CIC offers conferences, seminars, publications, and other programs and services that help institutions improve educational quality, administrative and financial performance, student outcomes, and institutional visibility. It conducts the largest annual conferences of college and university presidents and of chief academic officers. Founded in 1956, CIC is headquartered at One Dupont Circle in Washington, DC. For more information, visit www.cic.edu.