A Networked Approach to Transforming STEM Teaching and Learning: Lessons from the TRESTLE Initiative

Andrea Follmer Greenhoot
Director and Professor
University of Kansas

This poster describes results and lessons learned from the TRESTLE (Transforming Education, Stimulating Teaching & Learning Excellence) initiative, a multi-institutional intervention across seven universities to promote faculty adoption of evidence-based and inclusive teaching practices in undergraduate education. The project is one of several collaborations of the Bay View Alliance (BVA), a consortium of 10 research universities exploring strategies for cultural change around teaching and learning, with particular focus on the department as a key unit for change. The BVA seeds and supports institutional change through a Networked Improvement Community approach (NIC; Bryk, Gomez, & Grunow, 2011), in which clusters of universities select interventions for improvement, simultaneously test them, and share results and lessons learned to discover new insights and spur further innovation. The TRESTLE intervention expanded on a successful initiative at two of the partner universities (the Science Education Initiative, or SEI; Wieman, 2017), in which discipline-based educational specialists (DBESs) were embedded in departments as catalysts of change, collaborating with faculty colleagues on student-centered course transformation. TRESTLE tested a model designed to be more financially feasible and generalizable to a broad range of institutions, while building on the substantial insights from the SEI. Specifically, we explored whether we could achieve meaningful change with a smaller investment in embedded expertise (fewer experts per department) by emphasizing two additional components: 1) building intellectual communities to amplify the effects of the embedded experts, and 2) making evident the impact of course transformations visible within the communities, to influence social norms and propel further change. Each university implemented a variation on this intervention model adapted to their institutional context and we have used a combination of quantitative and case study evaluation methods to determine success of the overall model and localized adaptations. The poster describes core features of TRESTLE’s change model, variations across partner campuses, and our model for cross-institutional networking and collaboration, along with data on impact of the intervention and its institution-specific adaptations. We also share broader lessons learned about how multi-institutional networks can support widespread change, revealing how change processes are sensitive to local context.


Caroline Bennett, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS; Mark Mort, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS; JoAnn Browning, University of Texas San Antonio, San Antonio, TX; Tim Yuen, University of Texas San Antonio, San Antonio, TX ; Stephanie Chasteen, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO.