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Insights into Systemically Transforming Teaching and Learning

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Works in Progress: Faculty Perspectives and Training

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Sam Spiegel Colorado School of Mines

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Dr. Spiegel is the Director of the Trefny Innovative Instruction Center at the Colorado School of Mines. He previously served as Chair of the Disciplinary Literacy in Science Team at the Institute for Learning (IFL) and Associate Director of Outreach and Development for the Swanson School of Engineering's Engineering Education Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh, he was a science educator at Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS). Dr. Spiegel also served as Director of Research & Development for a multimedia development company and as founding Director of the Center for Integrating Research & Learning (CIRL) at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Florida State University. Under Dr. Spiegel's leadership, the CIRL matured into a thriving Center recognized as one of the leading National Science Foundation Laboratories for activities to promote science, mathematics, and technology (STEM) education. While at Florida State University, Dr. Spiegel also directed an award winning teacher enhancement program for middle grades science teachers, entitled Science For Early Adolescence Teachers (Science FEAT).

His extensive background in science education includes experiences as both a middle school and high school science teacher, teaching science at elementary through graduate level, developing formative assessment instruments, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in science and science education, working with high-risk youth in alternative education centers, working in science museums, designing and facilitating online courses, multimedia curriculum development, and leading and researching professional learning for educators. The Association for the Education of Teachers of Science (AETS) honored Dr. Spiegel for his efforts in teacher education with the Innovation in Teaching Science Teachers award (1997).

Dr. Spiegel's current efforts focus on educational reform and in the innovation of teaching and learning resources and practices.

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Stephanie Ann Claussen Colorado School of Mines

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Stephanie Claussen’s experience spans both engineering and education research. She obtained her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005. Her Ph.D. work at Stanford University focused on optoelectronics, and she continues that work in her position at the Colorado School of Mines, primarily with the involvement of undergraduate researchers. In her role as an Associate Teaching Professor, she is primarily tasked with the education of undergraduate engineers. In her courses, she employs active learning techniques and project-based learning. Her previous education research, also at Stanford, focused on the role of cultural capital in science education. Her current interests include engineering students' development of social responsibility and the impact of students' backgrounds in their formation as engineers.

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Renee Falconer Colorado School of Mines


Allison G. Caster Colorado School of Mines

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After completing a B.S. in Chemistry at the University of South Dakota, I studied laser micro-spectroscopy and X-ray microscopy at the University of California-Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, earning my PhD in Physical Chemistry. I rounded that out with a post-doc in Bioengineering at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO, where I found that my true passion was in explaining problem-solving skills and the workings of nature to those with varied interests. I joined the Teaching Faculty at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO in 2012, where I teach and write new lecture and lab curriculum for General Chemistry, Physical Chemistry and Thermodynamics. There, I have been truly inspired by the bright and motivated students that fill our campus. Like many Coloradans, I enjoy as much hiking and camping in the beautiful Rocky Mountains as I can fit into my schedule, a little bit of skiing, as well as listening to and performing music.

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Insights into Systemically Transforming Teaching & Learning

Historically, innovations in university-level teaching have often occurred as heroic efforts by individuals who pioneer change, or as part of an externally funded research project. More recently, institutions have begun to create centers to support innovations systemically. This study looks at the early efforts of a new center established to systemically advance STEM teaching and learning at an engineering university.

This paper explores the impact of targeted approaches on teaching practices across two STEM disciplines (electrical engineering and chemistry) by working with faculty who were interested in increasing student engagement and improving student end-of-course success.

Within this study, we focus on innovations around three target areas: 1. Course design to create a conceptually coherent and rigorous instructional sequence (Wiggans & McTighe, 1998) 2. Creating shifts in classroom and school culture towards an efforts-based learner (Resnick & Hall, 2000) 3. Active learning approaches that engage students in cognitive wrestling around key concepts (Prince, 2004)

Research indicates that innovative practices in these areas lead to significant changes in student understanding, perception, and skills. For the purpose of this paper, we focus on documenting shifts in instructor practices. We begin by describing the theoretical framework that informs the center’s efforts in working with faculty to change beliefs, understandings, and practices. We also discuss the approaches that the center utilized to encourage and support the innovations. These approaches engage the faculty in reflective practices, structure paths to dig into course designs and content, analyze student learning, and consider different course design and instructional approaches to enhance the course.

We include a discussion of student-level data that is being gathered, but the data analysis will be reported in separate papers as the analysis is completed. Factors that influence professional learning and shifts in practices are discussed to consider conditions that propagate systemic advances to STEM teaching and learning.

Spiegel, S., & Claussen, S. A., & Falconer, R., & Caster, A. G. (2016, June), Insights into Systemically Transforming Teaching and Learning Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25730

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