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When Professors Become Students

During the week of June 10, 2019, TCNJ’s School of Science hosted a mobile version of the National Academy of Science’s “Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching.”  The Institute was one component of the School’s ongoing inclusive excellence work.  The week-long Summer Institute focused on active, student-centered techniques that help improve student learning and success for all students.

Over 50 faculty and staff members from all five School of Science departments participated and learned together as a community. In addition, staff members from TCNJ’s Center for Institutional Effectiveness and Office of Instructional Design participated in the Institute. The Summer Institute is a foundational step as the School of Science embarks on making coordinated modifications to our 1st-year and 2nd-year courses across the School.

The goal of the national Summer Institute program is to better address institutional challenges to STEM education by traveling to colleges and universities and training a critical mass of educators in evidence-based teaching strategies. The original founders distilled the most effective teaching strategies from education research into a framework called Scientific Teaching. 

TCNJ’s intensive Summer Institute focused on instructional methods that engage students to learn – as scientists do – through problem solving and discussion.  Through interactive workshops, group work, and presentations, participants learned about innovations and research in undergraduate STEM education.  Two Summer Institute coordinators, along with six TCNJ faculty facilitators, worked with groups to help participants implement these strategies while creating novel teaching materials.  By the end of the Summer Institute, the eight groups each developed and peer-reviewed teaching materials; learned how to more comprehensively implement scientific teaching in classroom and laboratory settings; and practiced new tools and approaches to mentor faculty peers to develop into better, reflective practitioners.

The Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching was financially supported by a Strategic Initiative grant from TCNJ and an Inclusive Excellence grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The School of Science gratefully acknowledges these sources of support.

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