STEM course transformation project

June 7, 2016

Computer science faculty at Indiana University Bloomington will participate in a five-year study funded by the National Science Foundation and designed to improve science, technology, engineering and math education at research universities.

The IU Bloomington Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, in collaboration with seven other institutions, will take the lead on a $2.2 million NSF grant to support teaching initiatives that foster engaged, active learning for undergraduate students enrolled in large STEM courses.

The Transforming Education, Stimulating Teaching and Learning Excellence — or TRESTLE — project will be led by the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Program at the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning on the Bloomington campus.

“The TRESTLE project focuses on increasing the number of students graduating within the STEM disciplines,” said George Rehrey, director of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Program. “By embracing a learner-centered approach to their teaching, faculty fellows who collaborate on this project will contribute to research that supports better learning outcomes for students both in STEM and other large introductory courses as well.”

Each year for three years, a separate cohort composed of four faculty members from the School of Informatics and Computing will participate in two of the center’s most enduring and successful initiatives, the Course Development Institute and a Decoding the Disciplines seminar. It is anticipated that by the end of three years, up to eight computer science courses will have undergone transformation.

“This project will promote high-impact practices that engage undergraduate students, which lead to increased understanding, confidence and student success,” said Dennis Groth, vice provost for undergraduate education and IU Bloomington project lead. “These practices are key to fulfilling the campus strategic plan objectives, but the study could have a larger impact on higher education across our nation.”

Computer science faculty fellows participating in the 2016 cohort are Mehmet Dalkilic, Bryce Himebaugh and Jeremy Siek. The co-founders of the Decoding the Disciplines model, David Pace and Joan Middendorf, will facilitate the seminar. Eric Metzler from the Kelley School of Business, along with Lisa Kurz and George Rehrey from the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, will conduct the Course Development Institute each of the years.

The project is one of several collaborations among university partners in the Bay View Alliance, a network of nine universities in the United States and Canada working to improve teaching and learning in higher education. Other TRESTLE partners include the University of Kansas, Queens University of Ontario, the University of British Columbia, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of California-Davis and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Mary Huber and Pat Hutchings, assessment specialists from the Bay View Alliance, will author a case study of the project, visiting IU Bloomington before and after the program to evaluate its success. Faculty surveys, classroom observations and focus groups will provide the bulk of the data for their final case study.