STEM Central

A Community of Practice for NSF STEM Projects

STEP 2013 Session III-01 NOTES: Continue the Conversation with Philip Uri Treisman

Session Title: Keynote – Continue the Conversation with Philip Uri Treisman Session ID : III-01 Scribe’s Name:Nancy Bliwise

I. Strengths

Large body of research that can provide a foundation for effective reform on a large scale.

Those involved in STEM/STEP are well-positioned to lead reform efforts because we have worked hard to determine and share effective practices. The emphasis of STEM/STEP is on retention and success which is consistent with current legislative and political agendas.

Innovations that better link K-12 and higher education are being developed and implemented.

Additional Notes:

II. Challenges

Some of the programs that do not work (e.g., Developmental education) are cost centers for universities and eliminating them will have a major impact on higher education funding.

Existing faculty reward systems do not promote innovation and change.

Placement industry works against effective reform and used instruments that are not reliable and valid.

III. Insights

Faculty play an essential role in protecting disciplinary integrity.

Large institutions like NSF can work to support design of programs/reforms on a large scale

Systemic change is slow and difficult and requires courageous leadership (I believe the word cojones was used…)

Additional Notes:

III. Areas for Improvement (Needs)

End the practice of learning resources/support being separate from teaching.

We need to modernize our basic courses in mathematics, biology, and chemistry. There is a lot of research on current issues in these disciplines and we need more modern courses.

Rethink placement exams toward strategies that include rather than exclude.

IV. Solutions (Publications or Products) to address Needs

Work on gateway courses that bring students into programs of study and provide resources designed to help students succeed. Have tutors and support resources available from the first week to provide intensive instruction to promote success. Give faculty leading the course the responsibility for student success and the additional, intensive resources to help students succeed.

Research shows that immersion in complex structures early in college predicts success. Perhaps students should take fewer courses but engage in them in more intensive ways (along with support services).

Reform needs to happen in public ways with all stakeholders involved.