Faculty Learning for OutComes and Knowledge (FLOCK) at Fresno State
Recent national reports in STEM education outline a series of research-based recommendations for improving student learning and success for all students in STEM disciplines. These reports (e.g., Vision and Change in Biology Education, AAAS, 2011) call for systemic and institutional transformation efforts in undergraduate STEM education. Specifically, improved models for faculty development and program reform are needed to ensure that evidence-based reform methodologies become widespread instructional practices as opposed to isolated practices. These reforms are needed to continue to improve student learning and success, particularly for underrepresented minority student populations for which evidence-based reforms have shown to have the largest impact.
This project will develop a comprehensive model for faculty-led teaching and learning reforms in foundational science and mathematics coursework. This effort will adapt a faculty learning community (FLC) structure as the basis for its model. Four FLCs called FLOCKs (Faculty Learning for OutComes and Knowledge) will be formed, one each in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics. Each FLOCK will develop expertise to plan, implement and assess reform of a year-long gateway course series (e.g., CHEM 1A & 1B), guided by the literature, professional development experiences and discipline-based education experts.
The FLOCK members will regularly engage colleagues in discussions of the literature, plans for reform and outcomes achieved to help spread the use of more effective pedagogies. Finally, FLOCKs will work with institutional leaders to develop a sustainable operating model, including addressing faculty workload and promotion and tenure policies that may be barriers for reforms. FLOCKs will be coordinated across the disciplines by a steering committee comprised of FLOCK leaders and representatives from campus support units and stakeholder departments. An advisory board of external experts will guide FLC development and program reform efforts. The effort will receive strong support from campus leaders as it promises to help meet targets for improving student retention and graduation rates.