Preparing Future Faculty to Improve STEM Education: Broadening the National Impact of CIRTL

Adam Fontecchio
Drexel University

Need: Describe why this project is important and what needs it fulfills.

The Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) seeks to enhance excellence in STEM undergraduate education through development of a national STEM faculty committed to implementing and advancing evidence-based teaching practices for diverse learners. CIRTL’s strategy to achieve increased numbers of STEM future faculty prepared for their teaching roles has been to increase the number of universities in the CIRTL Network, now 42 universities. Here we broaden our growth strategy to include increasing the numbers of participating future faculty at each CIRTL Network university and nationally.

Guiding Question: Describe the research questions and/or practical inquiries guiding this work.

This work seeks to evaluate two overarching strategies for increasing the impact of future faculty development in teaching and learning:

  • Increase the number of future faculty participating at each CIRTL Network university
  • CIRTL Disciplinary Learning Communities
  • CIRTL Teaching Assistant Learning Communities
  • CIRTL Postdoctoral Learning Communities
  • Study of CIRTL at the Institution Level: Evaluation and Impact

Extend CIRTL opportunities to future faculty beyond the CIRTL Network:

  • Preparing NSF Graduate Research Fellows in Teaching
  • Connections with Disciplinary Societies
  • The CIRTL Alumni Network
  • Resources to Advance Future Faculty Preparation

Outcomes: Describe outcomes and any key findings or deliverables anticipated or achieved.
Disciplinary Learning Communities: Needs assessment instrument designed to guide departments in designing DLCs for their local programs, and to provide university leaders with data to guide professional development programs for future faculty.

Postdoctoral Learning Communities: Evaluated bootcamps and workshops have been integrated into the Postdoc Academy that creates professional development for postdocs nationwide.

Teaching Assistant Learning Communities: The modular Exploring Practices in the Classroom (EPIC; program has been evaluated, disseminated and published, including targeted versions on specific topics such as inclusive teaching.

Study of CIRTL at the Institution Level: Evaluation and Impact: CIRTL Network partners leverage program “maps” to identify the key areas of their programs, develop rigorous evaluation plans, and share evaluation and measurement planning across the Network. This work yields effective and sustainable measurement of the impact of CIRTL programs.

Preparing NSF Graduate Research Fellows in Teaching: Launched the online GRF Learning Community, including Modules, GRF Discussion Board, Faculty Office Hours and curated resources.

Connections with Disciplinary Societies: Database of what professional societies offer for professional development associated with teaching and development of the CIRTL STEM Professional Society Facilitation Manual.

The CIRTL Alumni Network: Current membership of 373 alumni and 24 CIRTL faculty and staff. The network is led by internally elected leaders. CIRTL Alumni are provided a venue to share their early-career experience with other alums, future faculty and the broader CIRTL audience.
Resources to Advance Future Faculty Preparation: Major developed products include a collection of program evaluation guides, the CIRTL Cross-

Network Programming Archive, and the new Ethical Dilemmas in the College Classroom: A Casebook for Inclusive Teaching (

Broader Impacts: Describe the broader impacts and implications of the results.

The future STEM faculty (graduate students and post-docs) prepared by CIRTL will become faculty across the entire landscape of U.S. higher education. Through their implementation of evidence-based teaching practices from two-year colleges through research intensive universities, they will increase the STEM learning and retention of an ever increasingly diverse undergraduate population.


Robert Mathieu, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Principal Investigator, Madison, WI; Ann Austin, Michigan State University, Co-Principal Investigator, East Lansing, MI; Katherine Barnicle, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Co-Principal Investigator, Madison, WI; Bennett Goldberg, Northwestern University, Co-Principal Investigator, Evanston, IL; Michael Reese, Johns Hopkins University, Co-Principal Investigator, Baltimore, MD Henry Rique Campa, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI; Rosette Cirillo, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Madison, WI; Ulrike Genschel, Iowa State University, Ames, IA; Mark Graham, Yale University, New Haven, CT; Sarah Hokanson, Boston University, Boston, MA; Jean Hertzberg, University of Colorado, Boulder, Boulder, CO; Julia Johnson, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO; Sandra Laursen, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO; Robert Linsenmeier, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL; Lucas Hill, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Madison, WI; Jess Maher, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Madison, WI; Jo Anne Powell-Coffman, Iowa State University, Ames, IA; Julia Savoy, University of Wisconsin – Madison, Madison, WI; Sarah Silverman, University of Michigan, Dearborn, Dearborn, MI; Jennifer Stanford, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA