By Kacy Redd, Ph.D.
As STEM Education Centers (SECs) grow in prominence on college campuses across the country, a new report released today details how universities can pair the work of these critical hubs aimed at improving teaching and student success in STEM fields with their Centers for Teaching and Learning (CTLs). The Collaborating at the Center report, written by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the POD Network in Higher Education, presents key recommendations on ways these two distinct types of campus-based centers can work more closely to further national STEM education improvement efforts.
The report is based on some of the key findings of 46 leaders from SECs and CTLs who gathered at a November 2015 workshop that APLU, the POD Network, and the Network of STEM Education Centers (NSEC) convened with support from the National Science Foundation. The workshop was designed to introduce these communities to each other, discuss areas of synergy, and explore ways that these communities could most effectively collaborate to improve student success on their campuses and nationally as networks.
Some of the key recommendations from the report include:
The Collaborating at the Centers report is primarily intended for SEC and CTL directors and staff, university administrators who are interested in maximally leveraging the different kinds of centers on their campus, for network leaders in POD and NSEC, and for policymakers and funders interested in understanding how institutional structures/organizations are leading improved student success in STEM.
CTLs are well-established entities on college campuses with a history of over 50 years, representing the growth of faculty development, or more broadly educational development, efforts in the United States. CTLs often work across disciplines, either institution-wide or within a school or college, supporting and advancing instructional practice, assessment, educational technology, professional development, and related areas for faculty, teaching assistants, and others.
STEM Education Centers are hubs of campus-based efforts leading transformation of undergraduate STEM education, development and support of STEM teacher preparation, and engagement in the community and broader impact at their institutions. STEM Education Centers have only recently begun to sprout up on campuses across the country. A group of such centers, known as the Network of STEM Education Centers, currently engages 149 SECs at 126 institutions. APLU has played a central role in helping to organize these STEM Centers. NSF has provided funding support.
As part of the workshop, participants also detailed and shared the expertise of SECs and CTLs, which include:
More information about APLU’s work with the Network of STEM Education Centers (NSEC) can be found here. APLU is also heavily involved in directly working with public universities to improve STEM teacher training through its Science and Mathematics Teaching Imperative (SMTI).
Kacy Redd is Director of Science & Mathematics Education Policy at APLU.