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SIMPLE Design Framework for Teaching Development Across STEM

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session I

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NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Jill K Nelson George Mason University

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Jill Nelson is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at George Mason University. She earned a BS in Electrical Engineering and a BA in Economics from Rice University in 1998. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for graduate study, earning an MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering in 2001 and 2005, respectively. Dr. Nelson's research focus is in statistical signal processing, specifically detection and estimation for applications in target tracking and physical layer communications. Her work on target detection and tracking is funded by the Office of Naval Research. Dr. Nelson is a 2010 recipient of the NSF CAREER Award. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu, and the IEEE Signal Processing, Communications, and Education Societies.

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Margret Hjalmarson George Mason University

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Margret Hjalmarson is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at George Mason University and currently a Program Officer in the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings at the National Science Foundation. Her research interests include engineering education, mathematics education, faculty development and mathematics teacher leadership.

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Lori C. Bland George Mason University Orcid 16x16

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Lori C. Bland, Ph.D., is an associate professor at George Mason University. She teaches courses in educational assessment, program evaluation, and data-driven decision-making. Bland received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Virginia. Her current research focuses on identifying, examining, and assessing learning and professional outcomes in formal and informal learning environments in K-12, higher education, and the workforce; how data is used from assessments to inform decision-making; and the application of assessment or evaluation methods to solve educational problems.

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Anastasia P Samaras George Mason University, VA USA

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ANASTASIA P. SAMARAS is Professor of Education in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University, USA. She is an educational researcher and pedagogical scholar with signature work in self-study research methodology including co-editor of Polyvocal Professional Learning through Self-Study Research (2015) and author of Self-Study Teacher Research (2011) and lead editor of Learning Communities In Practice (2008). She is recipient of the Dissertation Research Award, University of Virginia, the Outstanding Scholar Award, University of Maryland, a Fulbright Scholar, and a Visiting Self-study Scholar. She served as chair of S-STEP from 2013-2015 and is a current Co-PI of two National Science Foundation (NSF) funded grants: Designing Teaching: Scaling up the SIMPLE Design Framework for Interactive Teaching Development and a research initiation grant: Student-directed differentiated learning in college-level engineering education. Her research centers on facilitating and studying her role in faculty development self-study collaboratives.

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The SIMPLE Design framework for ongoing faculty development includes six research-based principles that have emerged from our work with engineering faculty and are now extended to other STEM disciplines. In this paper, we explain how the principles guide the organization of teaching development groups and describe the research behind their development. We will describe and discuss how the SIMPLE principles operate across diverse teaching development groups.

The six principles are as follows: 1.Sustainable, ongoing, small groups – The support is provided in discipline-driven groups of 4-6 faculty who meet regularly 2.Incremental change – Participants agree to make at least a small change or innovation in their teaching, a change that fits their course and comfort with trying new practices. 3. Mentoring - The small group structure provides a comfortable environment for sharing ideas, learning others, giving and receiving support for trying new teaching practices 4. People-driven - The groups are organized around the needs and interests of STEM faculty. They are designed to meet their needs for teaching in interactive learning environments in order to improve the quality of student learning and engagement in STEM 5.Learning Environment- Work is focused on the design and integration of more interactive learning environments for students moving beyond transmission pedagogies or direct instruction models toward 6.Design– Participants agree to document their process of creating interactive teaching practices by creating a design memo that explains the innovation, the constraints and affordances of its use and examples of its application in the classroom. This creates a sharable, external product and focuses their work on the design of teaching.

Teaching development groups have been created in six STEM departments including engineering. Groups varied in participant roles (tenure-track faculty, teaching faculty, graduate students), size (4 to 10), and frequency of meeting. Perhaps most interesting, the groups varied significantly in the structure and content of their meetings. Driven by the interests of participants, some groups adopted a journal-club style format, while others used books on teaching to scaffold discussion, and others invited speakers with expertise in learning technologies. The paper will describe how the participants defined the structure of the groups and how a diverse representation of the principles emerged.

The data comes from two separate NSF-funded projects in faculty teaching development. In the first project, we worked exclusively with electrical engineering faculty to study how ongoing teaching development groups can broaden the use of evidence-based teaching practices. An initial version of the design principles emerged from this project. In the second project, we have expanded the faculty development groups to other STEM fields and used the SIMPLE principles to guide the groups. To understand how the principles have been used in practice and are operationalized by the diverse teaching development groups, we have collected survey and interview data from group leaders and group participants. Monthly meetings of the group leaders have also been recorded for analysis. Summaries of data analysis will be included in the full paper.

Nelson, J. K., & Hjalmarson, M., & Bland, L. C., & Samaras, A. P. (2016, June), SIMPLE Design Framework for Teaching Development Across STEM Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26187

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