Contextual factors that impact early-career faculty teaching pratices


Diane Ebert-May, Jessica M. Maher, Nathan Emery

A pressing need in STEM undergraduate education is well-trained faculty who are versed in evidence-based practices and effective teaching techniques. One step towards filling this gap is implementing professional development programs for early-career academics and future faculty. The Faculty Institutes for Reforming Science Teaching IV (FIRST IV) program focused on developing research-based teaching approaches in biology postdocs from 2009-2012. Since engaging in the program, many alumni have continued on to instructional positions at a variety of institution types. Our unique research design examines some of the outcomes for former FIRST IV participants, within the context of their departments and institutions. Using data collected from both FIRST IV alumni and paired faculty in their departments, we are investigating the relative influences of experience, training and external factors on biology teaching practice. Preliminary results suggest that while the faculty pairs are relatively similar in backgrounds and experience, FIRST IV participants report teaching more student-focused courses. This study provides a model for assessing long-term impacts of faculty professional development programs, and over the coming years will provide insight into how departmental context influences outcomes for faculty teaching and student learning.



Submitted by Nate Emery on