CSIE: Chemical Sciences at the Interface of Education

Future Faculty Development meets the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

University of Michigan, Department of Chemistry

In our chemistry department, we have discovered that improving undergraduate education comes from better enabling faculty to carry out their instructional development work. Our analogy is how research is done in scientific research groups. Faculty have learned to team with student collaborators - from undergraduate to post-doctoral - as their intellectual partners, getting impressive and advanced work done by training students through the work they do. In particular, undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students who are thinking of becoming professors team up with multiple mentors in order to develop their ability to design, implement, assess and document instruction (ie, practices aligned with the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) at the same time they develop their ability to design, implement, assess and document research. Faculty members, whose responsibilities include course instruction and curriculum design, are able to assemble teams of trained and motivated students to work with on such projects. We think that system will ultimately produce an entirely different generation of mainstream faculty members for whom the integration of teaching and research is a natural consequence of their education.

Instructional Development via Intergenerational Team

Most students taking general chemistry courses do not intend to pursue careers in chemistry; in fact, they are more likely to end up in positions where they fund, write, or vote for chemical research and policies. Professor Mark M. Banaszak-Holl, who was interested in addressing how to transform a section of General Chemistry in order to address this type of learning, asked: how we might teach students scientific reasoning skills and chemical understanding in general chemistry that they are able to take beyond the classroom into their everyday lives? To develop an answer to this question, Mark used the CSIE framework to create, in his own scholarly program, a group of students interested in future faculty careers to work on this project with him. The resulting project is called "Studio Chemistry."

Studio Chemistry

Graduate Student Engagament in CSIE

  • During the middle of the first year of graduate school, students interested in future faculty work can apply for one of the year-long CSIE Fellowships
  • A program of external speakers and internal brown-bag sessions is offered through-out the year
  • In the second semester of the first year (while on Fellowship) students take a cognate course (eg, "designing Science Learning Environments") in the School of Education, Chem 720 A graduate seminar by CSIE project Director Professor Brian P. Coppola), both of which result in students' proposing a modestly scaled instructional development project, usually in collaboration with a faculty member; the four pillars of CSIE work are instructional design, implementation, assessment, and documentation
  • In the first semester of the second year, these students rejoin the teaching program, ideally to begin to implement their proposed ideas; continued engagement depends on the student, the research advisor, the teaching project, etc.
  • CSIE was implemented at the undergraduate level in 1994, at the graduate level in 1998, and at the post-doctoral level in 2002 in response to growing interest and experience in finding new ways to create and sustain instructional development opportunities in the department - as well as to address a strong student interest for adding explicit professional development opportunities relasted to future faculty work
  • CSIE Home Page
    This link opens the CSIE Home Page: filled with information about the program and constantly out of date.

    Writing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy
    Our paper on writing a statement of teaching philosophy has been quite widely cited (Coppola, B. P. "Writing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy" Journal of College Science Teaching 2002, 31, 448-453.). This link is to its placement at the Project Kaleidescope site, along with two thoughtful response pieces.

    The Technology Transfer Dilemma
    Another topic that has gotten a great deal of discussion going is the question of integrating academic entrepreneurial activity into the work professoriate. How do we preserve "educative" decision-making, in the best interests of students, when "exploitive" decision-making favors the best interest of a faculty business enterprise? See: Coppola, B. P. €œThe Technology Transfer Dilemma: Preserving morally responsible education in a utilitarian entrepreneurial academic culture.€ HYLE: International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry 2001, 7, 155-167.

    Scholarly Development in Teaching and Learning

    If the mantras of a "Scholarship of Teaching and Learning" and the unique strength of the U.S. educational system's practice of integrating research and teaching are to be taken seriously, then the same level of preparation for one's responsibilities as a professional educator should accompany one's preparation to be a researcher. This infrastruture, which begins with the design of undergraduate courses that reveal one's potential aptitude for research, is as complex as it is robust, and extends through the post-doctoral level. CSIE posits that a parallel structure can be created to promote educatiional readiness and it can be integrated with the existing program that does such a fantastic job at creating research readiness.

    Assessing the Effectiveness of the CSIE Program

    How does one characterize systemic change wtihin a department? We offer a combination of characteristics, stories from the field, in addition to collaborative educational research.

    Since the CSIE program began:

  • CSIE undergraduate students have created, implemented, assessed, presented and published their work in education
  • CSIE undergraduates have been recognized by the most prestigious graduate programs as people who have integrated research and teaching, and have been given opportunities to do instructional development work
  • CSIE graduate students have teamed with about one third of the department's faculty members on projects, and collaborated with a number of out-of-department colleagues on education research
  • CSIE graduate students have included their instructional development and research in their PhD theses
  • CSIE post-docs have maintained dual mentorship positions in teaching and research
  • The department is actively seeking to add at least one additional faculty member whose specialization is discipline-centered teaching and learning.
  • Based on the notable and visible success of the chemistry program, the College is now exploring ways to expand this activity into other departments.
  • We commissioned an external (research) evaluation at the end of the fifth year of the program, which was carried out by Professor Janet Lawrence and her collaborators at the UM Center for the Study of Higher and Post-Secondary Education (CSHPE). Using preliminary results of best practices gleaned from the large-scale 10-year evaluation of the national Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program to guide a reading of the results, we can say the following:

    There are a variety of factors that can impact and that are impacted by a future faculty development program. The results from the national PFF survey resulted in a series of conclusions about best practices in effective programs. The review of the national program was strongly critical of the lack of impact seen in the departments in which PFF activities were associated. The UM Program, by comparison, not only showed that its design was aligned with best practices, but even more significantly that there was a demonstrated and strong impact on the department, it faculty, and particularly on the undergraduate teaching program.

    Comparison summary of conclusions from the national PFF 10-year sunset review ("PFF") and the 5-year review of the future faculty development program in the University of Michigan Department of Chemistry ("UM Program")

    Conclusion: Future faculty development programs

  • should have general institutional support
  • PFF: yes; UM Program: yes

  • benefit from being centralized in departments
  • PFF: yes; UM Program: yes

  • are less effective when only institutionally centralized
  • PFF: yes; UM Program: yes

  • are difficult to integrate with professional societies
  • PFF: yes; UM Program: yes

  • do not impact time-to-degree
  • PFF: yes; UM Program: yes

  • impact PhD student learning
  • PFF: moderate UM Program: high

  • are cost effective
  • PFF: yes; UM Program: yes

  • impact faculty in doctoral departments
  • PFF: no UM Program: yes

  • impact departmental structures
  • PFF: no UM Program: yes

  • impact the undergraduate teaching programs
  • PFF: yes; UM Program: yes

  • impact partnering undergraduate institutions
  • PFF: slightly UM Program: slightly

    Reflection from Professor William R. Roush, Chair (05/2004)

    Here is the question for the day:

    If forming teams of faculty and students to do research absolutely influences what can be accomplished in certain disciplines, is teaching and learning also an area that benefits from the team approach as opposed to the isolated approach?

    Until recently, no one knew the answer to that question. Now we know₦ and the news is as good as it is exciting.

    This is a remarkably simple idea: we have learned how to use the team model as a way to move undergraduate education to a whole new level.

    And, bona fide chemistry students from all levels--undergraduates, graduates and post-doctorals--who are all interested in potentially becoming faculty members themselves one day, will participate in this work for exactly the same reason as they join our research groups: these future faculty members, get a better education about teaching in the discipline as they learn about the discipline.

    At the same time, our other students, the Michigan undergraduates in our courses, get more innovative and exciting instruction. And by finding ways to support faculty and student positions within a program focused on future faculty development, we have created three significant outcomes:

    (1) we are educating chemistry students at all levels in a dramatically different way when they express an interest in higher education careers;

    (2) UM undergraduatge students are the primary and direct recipients of an education that would simply not be possible without this structure; and

    (3) as a department, we have discovered a new source of energy for helping us do the job we want to do as faculty members at the University of Michigan.

    We know this works in a department; and we know what it takes.

    Reflection from Pascale Leroueil (05/2004)

    I am completing my first year as a chemistry graduate student. I am also a part of the future faculty training program because I am interested in exploring the option of an academic career.

    As a new graduate student, I was expecting the learning curve to be pretty steep when it came to laboratory work. I have to say that I am equally impressed by the chance that I have had to think really hard about teaching and learning during my first year, too.

    I have had all of the usual things that a first year graduate student might have if she was working in a new area. We have an education-related seminar program; we take a couple of courses that focus on educational design and other issues; and I received a fellowship that allowed me to be able to add this additional work to my first year of graduate school.

    My first teaching assignment was in a course called Studio Chemistry. It turns out that this is an exciting experimental course that is happening as a direct result of the future faculty development program because it has allowed a group of people, led by Professor Mark Banaszak Holl, to implement some new - and complex - ideas about teaching first year students.

    On top of getting my research started, I have also been able to get an incredible experience working with faculty and colleagues on helping to make some of these new teaching ideas a reality.

    Reflection from Professor Joe Krajcik

    UM School of Education

    On the national scene, there have been many efforts to reform teaching and learning at the undergraduate level but few have been successful.

    The chemistry program has approached undergraduate curriculum reform as a truly interdisciplinary activity. For example, my colleagues and I have adapted our graduate education courses, such as my course on Designing Science Education Learning Environments, to enable chemistry and science education graduate students to wrestle with important ideas.

    This is the only program, as far as I know, that has taken seriously the principles of good teaching, as well as how students learn. This effort has allowed us to create course materials and provide professional development for future (and current) faculty to help undergraduates understand the discipline better. In short, we have discovered a way to take the best ideas we have about teaching and learning and translate them into actual curriculum for Michigan undergraduates.

    A final perspective that is personally exciting to me is that these new undergraduate courses are exactly the kind of learning environments that I would like to see our future K-12 teachers experience so that they see models of good science teaching practices.

    Reflection from Ian Stewart (04/2004)

    UM BS 2002

    PhD candidate at UC Berkeley

    My combined experience in chemistry and chemistry education has given me lots of advantages in graduate school.

    The time I spent at Michigan as an instructor prepared me in three ways: First, I had a better understanding of fundamental chemistry concepts after I spent 3 years helping my own students learn them.

    Second, I arrived with lots of teaching experience - including designing my own teaching materials. Because of this, I was given freedom to adapt some of the work you've seen this morning to Berkeley's chemistry program. Finally, developing leadership skills was also an important outcome from my Michigan experience, and I am currently the student chair of Berkeley's Graduate Life Committee, which has responsibility for improving conditions for students in our department.

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