Portland State University. Department of Biology
Erin E. Shortlidge
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology
CUREs, faculty perspectives, professional development, science education, TCSR, undergraduate education
1 online resource (vii, 176 pages)
An ongoing crisis of student drop-off from undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education has led to a sustained call over the last 15+ years for the increased implementation of updated practices in undergraduate STEM education. Though over the past few decades many researchers have developed and analyzed the efficacy of various evidence-based teaching practices (EBTPs) designed to improve the state of undergraduate STEM education throughout the country, the rate at which these EBTPs are implemented in undergraduate STEM classrooms remains low.
In order to better understand the specific factors that affect individual instructors' efforts to implement EBTPs, we carried out a longitudinal study on a cohort of 16 instructors at a single urban-serving doctoral/research university (intensive). We used an established change theory called the Teacher-Centered Systemic Reform (TCSR) model to frame our inquiry into the differences in individual instructors' personal and professional contexts, teacher thinking, and teaching practices that were relevant to those instructors' attempts to develop and implement a novel EBTP into their teaching repertoire. Specifically, we selectively recruited and trained a cohort of 16 instructors in the theory behind and development of one type of EBTP, Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs), via a 4-day paid professional development (PD) workshop. We invited participants of the PD to attend a series of community of practice meetings designed to promote their accountability to and collaboration in the use of CURE teaching practices. We collected survey data once before and two times after instructors' attendance at the PD to monitor the beliefs, contexts, and practices of instructors before and after the PD. We conducted semi-structured follow-up interviews roughly six months after instructor participation in the PD, and iteratively coded our interview data to explore a priori and inductive themes that arose in the interviews.
We found that instructors who participated in the study fell broadly into four categories that we refer to as "instructor archetypes": Mavericks, Low-Resistors, Jump-Starters, and Distance Swimmers. These archetypes arranged themselves along two axes critical to understanding the individual instructors that they described: an axis of perceived support in one's institutional environment, and an axis of desire for collaboration in one’s instructional reform efforts. The four archetypes we herein describe may help us understand overarching differences in instructors' personal and professional contexts, instructional practices, and beliefs about teaching; the archetypes may also help us understand why and how particular instructor archetypes differently engage with the process of developing and instructing CURE courses.
We believe that by describing trends in the ways in which different instructors shape their instructional beliefs and actions with respect to EBTPs such as CUREs, we can develop a better sense of what individual instructors may need to adopt EBTPs, and how administrators and peers might be able to better support them. We provide a discussion on possible courses of action that could help support instructors belonging to each archetype in adopting EBTPs. Ultimately, we aim for the outcomes of this work to inform how barriers that individual instructors face in their efforts to implement EBTPs may be minimized.
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Berl, Justin, "Instructors at a Crossroad: Perceptions of Collaboration and Support Intersect with Intentions to Implement a CURE" (2023). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6538.