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FIRST IV: Faculty Institutues for Reforming Science Teaching: Focus on Postdoctoral Scholars.

NSF CCLI – Phase III (DUE 0817224), 2009-2015. D. Ebert-May (PI), Terry Derting (co-PI).

FIRST IV is a national dissemination project designed to reform undergraduate science education through teaching development of postdocs (PDs) who designed an introductory biology course based on learner-centered, scientific teaching. Participants engaged in a 2-yr program of professional development. At the beginning of each year, the postdocs attended a 4-day workshop during the summer.

"The broad objectives of the first workshop (4 days) for each cohort were for participants to 1) gain knowledge about evidence-based methods that support learner-centered STEM teaching, 2) begin to develop a learner-centered course, in which objectives, assessments, and instruction are aligned, and 3) make useful and sustainable connections with other PDs and Regional Team Leaders (RTLs) for continuing project-related work after the workshop. The objectives for the second workshop (3 days) were for participants to 1) reflect on their teaching experience(s) from the prior year, 2) gain further practice with learner-centered, evidence-based teaching methods, 3) gain access to additional teaching and assessment tools and resources, 4) receive feedback about their teaching and job-seeking experiences, and 5) complete action plans for revision of their course and teaching in year two.

The activities of the PDs in the academic year between workshops focused on three elements. First, each PD continued to develop a learner-centered introductory biology course with a team of PDs that was established during their first workshop. The second element was interaction of the PDs with their assigned RTL mentor and PD team as a means of receiving feedback about teaching, development of courses and teaching materials, and job applications. RTL mentors and their PDs established a meeting schedule and other interactions as needed. Third, the PDs completed an authentic teaching experience. Ideally, the experience was teaching one or more entire course(s); for many PDs, however, opportunities were only available to teach one unit or a few lectures of a course."  (Ebert-May et al 2015 p.3)

The RTLs are team of scientists who are expert innovators, teachers, and professional developers who conducted the workshops at the field stations. During the academic year between the two workshops, postdocs taught an introductory biology course at their home institution using the course framework which they designed during the first workshop. The field station leaders mentored the postdocs via teleconferencing during the academic year."

Papers related to this project:

Ebert-May D, Derting TL, Henkel TP, Middlemis Maher J, Momsen JL, Arnold B, Passmore HA. 2015. Breaking the cycle: Future faculty begin teaching with learner-centered strategies after professional development. CBE Life Sci Educ. 14:1-12; doi: 10.1187/cbe.14-12-0222.

Ebert-May D, Derting T, Hodder J. 2014. Professional development of faculty: how do we know it is effective? In M. A. McDaniel, R. F. Frey, S. M. Fitzpatrick, & H. L. Roediger (Eds.), Integrating cognitive science with innovative teaching in STEM disciplines. St. Louis: Washington University in St. Louis Libraries. doi: 10.7936/K7G44N61.

Ebert-May D, Derting TL, Hodder J, Momsen JL, Long TM, Jardeleza SE. 2011. What we say is not what we do: effective evaluation of faculty professional development programs. Bioscience 61(7): 550-558.