innovation, or convincing other faculty members to try the new instructional approach.

  • Recognize that curriculum reform involves political and cost-effectiveness concerns as well as evidence of impact.

Fairweather also identified some factors that influence the success of innovative strategies. First he noted that focusing on future versus current faculty seems to be an effective way to promote reform (see Chapter 7). It is also important, he said, to understand the implicit change model involved with any innovation. Specifically, it is important to recognize whether the change is expected to happen in a linear or nonlinear way; to identify structural impediments to reform; to understand the role of professional societies and accreditation; and to take into account the role of available institutional resources, including professional development. He concluded by emphasizing that “more effort needs to be expended on strategies to promote the adoption and implementation of STEM reforms rather than on assessing the outcomes of these reforms. Additional research can be useful, but the problem in STEM education lies less in not knowing what works and more in getting people to use proven techniques” (Fairweather, 2008, p. 28).


After the presentations, participants broke into small groups to reflect on the two workshops and identify future directions for promoting innovations in undergraduate STEM education. Committee members offered some final thoughts.

Reports from Small-Group Discussions

All of the small groups emphasized the importance of increasing collaboration among the various stakeholders in undergraduate STEM education. They cited the need to forge stronger connections among discipline-based instructors, discipline-based education researchers, education researchers, cognitive scientists, higher education policy researchers, and disciplinary societies. Strengthening these connections, they said, would further scholarship with respect to STEM education and provide opportunities for professional development targeted at implementing research-based practices. Some groups saw value in jointly identifying an umbrella set of challenges that faculty in the STEM disciplines could tackle as a united community.

All of the small groups mentioned the importance of research. Some favored drawing more heavily on existing research. Specifically, they mentioned the extensive literature from other disciplines on faculty develop-

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement