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Michigan State Reform Efforts

Reform Efforts

Creating a Coherent Gateway for Teaching and Learning at Michigan State University


As the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST, 2012) noted, “The first two years of college are the most critical to the retention and recruitment of STEM majors”.

The MSU project focuses on this call from PCAST, as an opportunity to change the department and disciplinary culture by working to transform the large gateway courses in biology, chemistry, and physics.

We are bringing together faculty from these disciplines to identify the core ideas in the disciplines, crosscutting concepts that span disciplines, and the scientific practices that allow students to use their knowledge. Engaging faculty in this process opens up both departmental and interdisciplinary conversations about the goals and emphases of the gateway STEM courses. We have also established a competitive fellowship for faculty who teach these courses and are interested in investigating student learning, which will further develop the community involved in transformation efforts.

We are assessing the outcomes of these transformations in multiple ways, including

            How faculty develop and use:

                    - Core Ideas,

                    - Crosscutting Concepts,

                    - and Scientific Practices in their instruction

            And how the three dimensions are integrated in their course assessments.

To characterize the assessment and instruction, we are developing two new research instruments.

The Three-Dimensional Learning Assessment Protocol (3D-LAP) can be used to characterize assessments in terms of how well they align with the idea of three-dimensional learning. Additionally, the 3D-LAP can be used as a guide for authoring assessment items to align with three-dimensional learning.

The Three-Dimensional Learning Observation Protocol is an instrument that can be used to characterize both 'how' a class is taught, as well as 'what' is being taught in that class. The 'what' portion of the 3D-LOP characterizes how well the instruction aligns with three-dimensional learning.

For more information about MSU's undergraduate STEM education reform efforts visit the Create For STEM website.