Undergraduate Education Program

Council of Independent Colleges

Katherine Whatley
Washington, DC
December 2017

The Council of Independent Colleges proposes to improve teaching effectiveness in STEM disciplines at smaller colleges by preparing faculty members to utilize methods developed by Nobel-laureate Carl Wieman.  These methods have been shown to be superior to traditional approaches.  Research in cognition and neuroscience shows how to significantly improve learning.  Students are challenged with increasingly complex problems, and, aided by extensive feedback, they emulate how scientists think and discover new knowledge.  Initiatives led by Wieman and other scientists transformed science instruction at the University of British Columbia and the University of Colorado at Boulder.  He and his colleagues at Stanford have used the method successfully for years.  In each of two workshops over a period of two years, expert teachers already versed in the method would work with teams of four faculty members each from nine CIC member institutions over a five-day period.  Participants would complete the program with an understanding of the background of cognitive science, as well as with feedback on actual classroom exercises that they would design during the workshop and implement at home.  CIC expects that faculty members also will serve as resources for colleagues in their departments.  A final report for all CIC members will document improvements in student learning outcomes at participating institutions for two years following the workshops.

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