Communities to support faculty implementing research-based instructional strategies

Edward Price, Ph.D.
Professor of Physics & Director of the Center for Research and Engagement in STEM Education
California State University San Marcos

Need: The adoption and use of research-based instructional strategies (RBIS) is far from universal. It is important to attend to how faculty learn about, take up, and implement these approaches in order to achieve hoped-for improvements in student outcomes. Moreover, there is a need for more and better models for supporting faculty’s pedagogical growth and development. Guiding Question: How can we support faculty so that they persist with RBIS, gain confidence, learn new techniques, and engage in reflective practice? Outcomes: Faculty online learning communities (FOLCs) are a way to do this. For the past five years, fifty adopters of the Next Generation Physical Science and Everyday Thinking (Next Gen PET) curriculum have participated in a FOLC. Faculty meet regularly by videoconference in small groups to discuss practical issues, facilitation strategies, and student learning. FOLC meetings allow rich, complex discussions centered on the research-based curriculum. During meetings, faculty have a sounding board for ideas, a space to share experiences and challenges, a source of affective support, and a venue for troubleshooting. Participating faculty report more confidence in using the curriculum; greater familiarity with the curriculum structure and content; increased knowledge and use of pedagogical techniques aligned with the curriculum’s core principles; and becoming more reflective about their teaching practice. This poster describes how the Next Gen PET FOLC has supported faculty, shares outcomes demonstrating the positive impact of participation, and provides links to an Implementation Guide developed through this work. Broader Impacts: The FOLC model should be of interest to faculty, curriculum developers, administrators, or other higher education stakeholders interested in promoting faculty development or the implementation of RBIS.