Advancing Learning Through Evidence-Based STEM Teaching Course Introduction



[ Music ] >> Welcome to advancing learning
through evidence based STEM teaching, an open online course for
current and future STEM faculty. I'm Trina McMahon, I'm a professor at
the University of Wisconsin-Madison in civil and environmental engineering. I teach several courses at UW Madison. I teach an introduction to
engineering course for freshmen, an introduction to environmental
engineering for sophomore and juniors, which is a required course in my discipline. I also teach honors biology and of course an
environmental microbiology, as well as courses about teaching and learning on
my campus for future faculty. >> And I'm Derek Bruff, I'm the director of the
Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University and I'm also a senior lecturer in mathematics
where I teach courses in statistics, in linear algebra and a really fun course in
cryptography I get to teach from time to time. At the Center for Teaching, my colleagues and
I work with faculty and graduate students all over campus to help them develop
foundational teaching skills, but also explore new ideas
in teaching and learning. This course is a sequel of
sorts to another course that we've put together called an introduction
to evidence based undergraduates STEM teaching. That course was something of
a kind a STEM teaching 101. Looking specifically at evidence based
teaching practices, teaching practices that are supported by research in various ways. This course, like that other
one, will focus on STEM teaching. So that's science, technology, engineering
and mathematics in undergraduate teaching. Certainly some of the ideas and strategies that
we discuss in this course will have application to other types of teaching; K-12,
high school, graduate teaching, but we'll be thinking primarily
the undergraduate context. I should also add that although this is a sequel
to another course, you don't actually have to have finished the first course
to get something out of this course. >> In this course we'll be exploring
more evidence based teaching practices and we're going to help you learn how to
collect, analyze and act upon your own evidence. So this approach is actually, we have
a special term for it and this approach to one's teaching is called
'teaching as research" and I just call it TAR sometimes, the acronym. And the goal of this course is to prepare
you to conduct your own TAR project. >> So this notion of teaching as research is
something that I encountered several years ago. One of my first encounters was an article
by Randy Bass of Georgetown University. He wrote this really nice article called "What's
the Problem" and he said that in our research, having a problem is a good thing. Right, it means you've got something
to study, something to investigate, but in our teaching we often think
of the problem as a bad thing right. Something to be fixed or
resolved or gotten rid of, but if you change your flims [phonetic] a
little bit and think about teaching problems, I found for me this was really helpful. It gave me a way of thinking about my
teaching similar to how I'm trained as a mathematician looking for interesting
questions, interesting problems to investigate, in this case not mathematical questions or
problems, but questions about student learning. >> That's interesting that
you focus on the problem Derek because as an engineer, I'm
trained to solve problems. So I get excited about a challenging problem, but then I'm also excited
about finding that solution. And so a lot of what we're going to be talking
about is trying to help you design something like a TAR project in order to
solve the problem in your course. So you can move on to finding
more exciting ones. My own experience with the teaching as research
project came while I was a second year assistant professor at UW Madison. I actually took a course on teaching
and learning while I was there. And I went into that course convinced that
my students were having a specific problem with graphical representation of the solution to
the problems that they were working on in class. So for example graphing an
equation that describes the solution to a particular engineering problem
and I was convinced that it was to the graphical representation
that was the conceptual problem. But when I went into this course that
I was taking to analyze my own course, I gathered data from my students about what
problem, what challenges they were facing in trying to solve the problems
that I was giving them. And I found that they were actually stumbling at a very different point in
the problem solving process. So they were actually having a lot
of trouble unpacking a word problem. So if there's a paragraph description of
something that I want them to analyze, they couldn't turn that into
a system of equations, which then they would solve
and graph the results of. So I was, I had first witnessed
them unable to make the graph, but really the problem was being
able to tackle a word problem. And it was really eye opening for me
to realize this because I realized that I would have spent a lot of time
and probably wasted energy trying to address something that
wasn't really the problem. And it was the teaching as research
framework that illuminated that for me. And so that was really exciting for
me when I first learned about it. >> And I think that's one of the strength
of teaching as research as a framework, is that you don't have to think of your
students as these kind of black boxes where you don't really understand kind of
how they're thinking or what they're thinking or what they understand or what they don't. But you can actually collect and
analyze evidence of student learning that can shed light on their thought processes. And what they're struggling with
and what their challenges are. And then that can inform what you do
as a teacher to teach more effectively. In this course we're going to start with
an introduction to teaching as research, to try to help you understand a little more
thoroughly what this idea is and what it looks like and why you might be engaged in it. And we'll have a series of modules
exploring various teaching strategies and the evidence that support them. Teaching strategies like cooperative learning,
problem based learning, peer instruction. We'll spend a week looking at
learning through diversity. Then at the end of the course we're going to
return to the teaching as research framework to consider problems that you might investigate
in your own teaching, drawing on ideas and strategies from the rest of the course. Your final assignment in this course is
to design a teaching as research project. You don't have to implement it, but we do want
to help prepare you to design one of these and that will be a peer graded assessment. So you'll get some feedback from
your peers on your project design. >> So by now you're probably wondering
whose putting this course together? The team really is a group of staff and faculty
within the CIRTL Network and CIRTL stands for the Center for the Integration
of Research Teaching and Learning. And it's a distributed center, in the sense
that it's comprised of more than 20 institutions of higher learning in the United States. Each of those institutions has faculty and staff at them whose mission is
to prepare future faculty. So we're going to be drawing on the expertise
of the CIRTL Network along with expertise from outside the network, in order
to put this course together for you. So teaching as research is one of CIRTL's
core ideas and we're going to be exploring that in great detail in this course,
but CIRTL also has two other core ideas that inform its work, which we'll
be touching on as we go along. The first is learning communities. Now you're going to be forming a learning
community as participants in this course, but your students also form a
learning community in your class. And can support each other and
engage in peer to peer instruction. And other kinds of interactions that would
create a special learning community for them. So we're going to be talking
quite a bit about that as well. The other, the third core idea from
CIRTL, is learning through diversity and the concept here is that we draw upon the
experiences, backgrounds and skills brought by our students to our classrooms
in order to make that learning experience richer for everyone. And so we're going to see these two core
ideas, the learning communities and learning through diversity throughout the course along
with the teaching as research core idea. >> Speaking of learning communities,
certainly in this course you'll have plenty of opportunities to interact
with the course content. Right we've videos for you to watch with
imbedded questions to help you kind of pause and think about different
aspects of the content. We'll have weekly quizzes to
help you make sense of things, but we also want to see this
course as a learning community. And so we've got some structures to help
you learn from and with each other as well. So primarily that's the discussion
forums, the forums are a great place to share your personal experiences,
to ask questions about course content, to connect with other folks who are interested
in learning about teaching as research. Exploring ways this looks
different in different disciplines. It's a great opportunity for you to kind of
network with other learners and learn from them. We'll have some structured opportunities as well through the peer graded assignments,
like that final project. And so we encourage you to jump in and see
this course as an opportunity not only to kind of learn from us putting the course together,
but to learn from your peers as well. One way you can do that is to
form a local learning community. So we encourage you to seek out colleagues,
either at your campus or in your region, who you can meet with and interact with
as you work your way through this course. It's a great opportunity, if you
can do it face to face, even better. To kind of take what you're learning
in this course and go deeper with it. Help each other, kind of apply it to
your own teaching and potential teaching. And so we think it's a nice kind of compliment
to what you're doing online in this course and if you're interested in facilitating a
local learning community, please let us know. We've got some additional resources
that you can use to help make those face to face meetings a little richer. >> We're really looking forward to
getting to know you and participating in that learning community, so
jump right in and have a good time. [ Music ]

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