ASCN Working Groups

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Much of the work of the network is structured around a set of topical working groups and each working group is focusing their efforts on one aspect of institutional change. To learn more about the working groups, read their mission statements below.


Working Group 1: Guiding Theories. How might we better support people's use of theories, models, and scholarship in their planned systemic change efforts?

People involved in STEM Education change often don't consider change theories and models or forget to consider the larger system in which they seek to make a change. This working group seeks to help people engaged in change efforts to understand change theories and models that could profitably inform systemic change work. One long-term goal of this work is to build a common framework and language, with the ultimate goal of building and sharing a strong knowledge base for change in STEM Education. More Information about this group »


Working Groups 2 & 4: Costs, Benefits, and Demonstrating Impact. What are the costs and benefits of change? How can measurement and communication be used to promote change?

Costs and Benefits of Change: This working group will explore the financial and social costs and benefits of implementing, scaling and sustaining instructional changes in undergraduate STEM education. In particular, techniques and expertise from economics and related social sciences will be applied to STEM higher education to evaluate and promote change initiatives aimed at improving student success.

Demonstrating Impact: This group's mission is to identify, explain and disseminate information on metrics that hold the potential to document, foster, accelerate, and communicate systemic change. Documenting, by creating empirical evidence for the effectiveness of various approaches for changes in undergraduate STEM education. Fostering, by enabling stakeholders to reflect upon and assess current conditions. Accelerating, by using existing measures more broadly and effectively and by identifying important elements of change that are not being adequately assessed. Communicating, by establishing a common language and set of expectations for studying change. Identification involves both cataloging what is available and suggesting what might be usefully developed, including the potential for a set of common change metrics. Explanation includes a discussion of the implications of each metric, illustrated by cases that describe how metrics have been used successfully to foster change. Dissemination comprises making this work readily available in an accessible format via a community-curated website.

More Information about these groups »


Working Group 3: Change Leaders. Who leads change and how?

Change agents have many different job titles and come from many different levels of an organization. They may be in administrative positions with clear responsibility for undergraduate STEM education, but often they are not. Change agents need to have skills in leading initiatives without positional power, building consensus among peers, active listening, and "managing up" to others in administrative positions. Little is known about the best ways to develop these skills given the many demands on change agents' time. This working group will identify important roles and activities in the change process and articulate how people in different organizational levels and positions accomplish change. They will pay particular attention to who must be engaged in change efforts, what skills they need, and how these skills can be developed. More Information about this group »


Working Group 5: Equity and Inclusion.

Attention to the full dimensions of inclusion must pervade all the work of ASCN. Across the Steering Committee and all the working groups this is partially addressed by the effort to assure participation by diverse membership, with stakeholders from all sectors of higher education. That said, ASCN's working group structure offers the opportunity to bring together communities whose work focuses on inclusion, and those that work on other aspects of systemic change (such as teaching methods that improve student conceptual understanding), for focused knowledge synthesis. These communities share many goals for supporting faculty and student access and success but may have developed and operated independently of one another. This working group will explore the intersection of our understanding of inclusion with concepts of systemic change arising from other perspectives, identify common ground, and promote opportunities for collaboration. It will interact closely with the other ASCN working groups, as well as pursuing its own synthesis of knowledge. More Information about this group »


Working Group 6: Aligning Faculty Work with Systemic Change.

The purpose of this working group is to promote development of institutional cultures where continuous improvement of teaching is expected, valued, assessed, and rewarded at various stages of a faculty member's career. The working group will achieve its purpose by illuminating the policies and practices employed in the current higher education landscape that effectively evaluate and reward the three aspects of faculty work: teaching, scholarship, and service. Working group 6 will 1) map the landscape of practices, 2) create a taxonomy to identify and classify the varied approaches, 3) examine current evidence that addresses the potential or realized effectiveness of these practices, and 4) assess and share the evidence and practices to promote accountability. More information about this group »


Working Group 7: Learning Spaces

Learning spaces in higher education include formal and informal spaces, such as buildings, open spaces on and off campus, online spaces, and other spaces in which teaching, learning, and engagement happens. This working group will explore planning, creation, and use of learning spaces in higher education. In particular, the group will focus on equitable and inclusive access to learning spaces including physical and pedagogical access. More information about this group »