CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT

STEMTEC's largest task is the development of college courses designed to accomplish the project's goals. These courses will be developed by science and math faculty from the eight participating colleges working in curriculum teams to develop or modify introductory and more advanced courses for their respective institutions. The goal is to develop programs that meet the needs and resources of the colleges, so that these courses-and the process of reform-will be continued after STEMTEC has ended. There will be curriculum teams of about 7 or 8 people in biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, physics, educational technology and interdisciplinary research. Each team will have faculty representatives from several colleges, two K12 teachers who are graduates of our teacher enhancement projects, and an education faculty member. One member of each team will serve as a chair.

Summer Institutes are a cornerstone of the curriculum development effort. They will allow for concentrated efforts by the teams and for the exploration of the new pedagogical approaches. A key goal is to modify faculty attitudes about teaching and learning in ways that result in significant changes in course structure and goals and ultimately in student performance. There will be two cycles of curriculum teams, one starting in 1997 and one in 1998. Each cycle will last three years and have 40 college faculty; there will be 12 from UMass and an average of 4 each from the other seven colleges.

In the first summer, participants will devote two weeks to a Summer Institute and a minimum of one additional week to the project. In addition to the Summer Institute support, the project will offer financial assistance for course development. This will average $11,000 per course for teaching assistants, released time, technical or programmer support, additional summer compensation, etc. Each team will design its academic year follow-up program including Internet exchanges, visiting each other's classes, and get-togethers. These important activities will allow faculty opportunities for reflection, help when problems arise, and mutual support. There will be one week Summer Institutes in each of the two following summers, and a midyear meeting of all the STEMTEC participants in addition to the meetings planned by the individual curriculum teams. Some new and modified courses will be offered in the academic year following the first Summer Institute, but the lead times associated with registration or the need for additional curriculum development will postpone other courses for a year.

The schedule for the two week Summer Institute is shown in the following table:

WEEK ONE
MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY
AM Cooperative Learning Investigation Technology Technology Team Planning
PM Review curriculum and local case studies Continue Review Explore course options Initial Planning Cross-team Meeting

WEEK TWO
MONDAY TUESDAY WEDNESDAY THURSDAY FRIDAY
AM Assessment Teaching opportunities Women and minorities Workshops as needed Team planning
PM Team planning Team planning Team planning Team planning Interim Team Reports

Mornings will be devoted to workshops for everyone on the teaching strategies; the workshops will be led by science faculty who have successfully implemented the reform of science and math courses. Afternoons will be devoted to work in the curriculum teams, in subgroups, or individually. The curriculum teams will consider how the various teaching strategies can be used effectively in their areas. They will also examine local course models that work well, curricula developed by professional societies or under the auspices of NSF (e.g., Physics by Inquiry, Powerful Ideas in the Physical Sciences, Chemistry for the Information Age, BioQUEST Curriculum), and the several studies from the National Center for Improving Science Education. The faculty will develop courses for their institutions which incorporate learning approaches appropriate for future teachers and will also serve other undergraduates better than the existing lecture oriented offerings. Changing courses to reflect our current understanding of how students learn and making that process more apparent will be valuable both in improving student learning and in motivating future teachers.

After the Summer Institute, participants will spend at least four days working individually or in small groups. They will all meet for one day at the end of the summer to share their progress and to finalize academic year team activities.

The one week summer workshops in the second and third years of the cycle will reunite the participants for exhibitions and informal exchange. They will give faculty the opportunity to reflect collectively on their efforts, learn from each other, be recharged by the group's enthusiasm, refine their courses, and plan local and national dissemination efforts. The local dissemination is critical in establishing a permanent process of educational reform. Participants will plan presentations for their professional colleagues showcasing their courses, the student responses, and the evaluation data.

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Created June 2000
Author: STEMTEC Webmaster