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A Multi-Strategy Approach to Active-Learning: University Cultural Change and Sustainability

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As a direct result of the AAU STEM Initiative, we have substantial evidence of institutional change occurring at Washington University. This includes the funding of a new initiative to continue increasing adoption of evidence-based pedagogies in STEM, as well as expansion and adoption of programs begun by the AAU Initiative.

The success of the AAU STEM Education Initiative in generating conversation and collaboration about teaching laid the groundwork for the new Transformational Initiative for Education in STEM (TIES). The TIES model is adapted from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative, which has been successful at two large research universities. At the heart of this model is the collaboration between “embedded experts” (i.e. TIES Education Specialists) and faculty members. The TIES Education Specialists work closely with faculty members to redesign courses toward utilizing evidence-based teaching strategies and course design principles. Our TIES model will initially focus on two science departments, the department of Biology and department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, for the three-year pilot phase. After the pilot phase, additional STEM departments will become involved in the project. TIES is supported by the Office of the Provost.

The funding of the TIES program demonstrates the commitment of Washington University in St. Louis to promoting and adopting evidence-based teaching strategies in STEM. In addition to this major initiative, several programs that began as a part of our AAU STEM Initiative program have become institutionalized and supported by institutional funds. In particular, all of the professional development programs for faculty that were developed initially as a part of the AAU project have become permanent parts of our Teaching Center’s programming. This includes OPAL observations and MOST consultations, STEM FIT and IDEA FIT, the MiST program, the Teaching with Clickers community of practice, and the Innovations in Undergraduate Education Speaker Series. Several of these programs have expanded to disciplines outside of STEM as well. Additionally, our iClicker program, which is a collaboration with WU Libraries to provide iClickers for student check-out, has continued to expand. This program was initially funded by the AAU Initiative, and we recently received support from the Office of the Provost to purchase additional iClickers to add to the existing pool and continue the program.

Last, Washington University is continuing its long history of investing in the improvement of teaching and learning in STEM through the continued funding of The Teaching Center and the creation of the Center for Integrative Research on Cognition, Learning, and Education (CIRCLE).