Award Number1914880
Funding AgencyNational Science Foundation
Effective Date2020-01-01
Expiration Date2022-12-31
Funding Amount$363,112


With support from the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education Program: Education and Human Resources (IUSE: EHR), this project aims to serve the national interest by developing guidance about how to build successful teams for improving undergraduate STEM courses. Texas State University at San Marcos, in collaboration with Western Michigan University, proposes to capture the key elements of how successful instructional change teams develop and function. A significant body of research is available about how to teach STEM courses well. However, many past efforts to promote the use of research-based teaching have focused on individual instructors, limiting the impact of these efforts. Focusing instead on instructional change teams could generate widespread, sustained improvements in STEM courses. Although it is well established that teams can harness the power and expertise of many people working towards a common goal, not all teams are successful. In addition, few research studies have examined teams that are working toward instructional change. The investigators in this project will model how elements of team setup and process can affect achievement of sustained improvements to undergraduate STEM courses. The project intends to provide recommendations that could guide administrators and change leaders in the design and implementation of team-based instructional change initiatives.

The model that serves as a starting point for this research was developed in a prior qualitative study and combines research from multiple disciplines with evidence from interviews with project leaders and team members. Building off that prior work, the project will evaluate the effectiveness of instructional change teams based on: 1) the sustainability of instructional changes; and 2) the quality of changes at the instructional, collaboration, and individual change level. These measures will be examined as a function of the team inputs, including the nature of the task, who participates, process constraints, external engagement, and access to resources. The two-phased, mixed-methods study will diagnose what factors lead to desirable team outcomes. Phase 1 will develop a reliable survey instrument that quantifies key elements of the team inputs, the nature of the team's collaboration, and the team outcomes. Phase 2 will involve analyzing survey data from many teams across different institutions to test the impact of variations across teams. These results will be used to generate research-based recommendations about how to strengthen team-based instructional change work. The NSF IUSE: EHR Program supports research and development projects to improve the effectiveness of STEM education for all students. Through the Institutional and Community Transformation track, the program will support efforts to transform and improve STEM education across institutions of higher education and disciplinary communities.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.