04 NSF Workshop

Workshop participants generating ideas relating to STEM faculty development.
Image Credit: Edith M. Dunlap

Clemson’s College of Education recently partnered with the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences to host STEM faculty from across the country in a National Science Foundation-funded workshop focusing on developing a research agenda for holistic STEM faculty development. Over 50 participants gathered in Clemson on Feb. 17 and 18 for the workshop.

The STEM Faculty Development Collaboratory led the workshop and is comprised of a strong partnership between Karen High and Cindy Lee, faculty in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences; and Sandra Linder and Faiza Jamil, faculty in the College of Education.

High is the grant’s principal investigator along with co-PIs Lee, Linder and Jamil. The engineering and science education department provided logistical support for the workshop. According to Linder, the workshop ended up being a fruitful collaboration between the many STEM faculty in attendance, and it revealed clear paths for the development of a national research agenda.

“This workshop was all about building a solid foundation, and I think we achieved that because of the diversity of viewpoints involved,” Linder said. “The conversations between STEM faculty and faculty from the colleges of education or colleges of humanities were enlightening.”

According to Linder, of the 54 participants in attendance, 42 were from outside of South Carolina and represented universities from across the country. In order to efficiently pursue their goal of developing a national research agenda, participants worked among three different session threads during the two days: inputs, mechanisms and outputs. Inputs describe what needs to happen to make faculty development successful, mechanisms involve the processes of conducting development and outputs determine faculty development goals.

Participants engaged in multiple sessions geared towards generating ideas related to these themes and then worked to analyze and combine these ideas to move us towards beginning stages of development for a research agenda. The many speakers featured at the workshop only added to that cultivation of ideas.

Clemson’s Lisa Benson spoke on the many “hats” that faculty wear, while Chitra Rajan from the University of Buffalo explored the role administration should play to enable success in faculty development. Gordon Uno, professor from the University of Oklahoma, described current research on faculty development and future trends, while Rachel Beane, a professor from Bowdoin College, explored topics that need to be addressed concerning faculty development.

“We were purposeful in recruiting representatives from two-year, four-year, teaching-intensive and research intensive universities,” Linder said, “but we also invited faculty with a range of experience and wanted representatives from all disciplines and backgrounds to diversify the discussion.”

Now that the STEM Faculty Development Collaboratory has heard from a healthy cross section of STEM faculty, there’s even more work to be done. A subgroup of participants will be called back between April and May for an additional analysis session and to determine next steps. Linder is optimistic that this development-focused work will have ripple effects for STEM faculty across the country.

“It’s exciting to be part of establishing a road map that will guide funding initiatives and research trajectories,” Linder said. “Doing our due diligence to make sure we are moving forward the discourse in this research area with a common vision is an important first step.”