A Certification Program for Vision & Change Recommendations

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Title of Abstract: A Certification Program for Vision & Change Recommendations

Name of Author: Sandra Romano
Author Company or Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Author Title: A certification program for life science departments implementing V&C recommendations
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: All Biological Sciences Courses
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development
Approaches: Assessment, Changes in Classroom Approach (flipped classroom, clickers, POGIL, etc.)
Keywords: Certification, transformed department, rubrics

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): S. Romano, University of the Virgin Islands K. Aguirre, Coastal Carolina University T. Balser, University of Florida T. Jack, Dartmouth University K. Marley, Doane College K. Miller, Washington University in St. Louis M. Osgood, University of New Mexico P. Pape-Lindstrom, Everett Community College

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: The 2011 report, “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action” recognized that a 21st century education requires changes to how the life sciences are taught, how academic departments support faculty, and how curricular decisions are made. The Partnership for Undergraduate Life Science Education (PULSE) was formed as a collaborative effort funded by NSF, NIH, and HHMI to foster department level changes recommended in the report. The PULSE project seeks systemic change at the departmental level and above, at all types of post-secondary educational institutions. PULSE Leadership Fellows were selected to develop initiatives that will catalyze this change. This group includes deans and chairs or former chairs of life science departments from research institutions, regional comprehensive universities, liberal arts colleges and two-year community colleges. One of the efforts of the PULSE fellows is a certification program for departments that aspire to meet the Vision & Change goals of a transformed undergraduate experience in the life sciences. The certification program being developed will provide incentives and rewards for departments to adopt Vision & Change recommendations. The goal of this project is to help departments/institutions use existing and additional new assessment evidence to evaluate progress in departmental/institutional efforts to implement Vision and Change recommendations. This certification program will serve as both a self-assessment tool for departments to evaluate which V&C recommendations they are succeeding in implementing and which recommendations need further development.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: Characteristics of departments transformed through adoption of V&C recommendations were collected from current literature, discussions in PULSE activities and on the PULSE website. These characteristics were used to develop a set of five rubrics to serve as the basis for the certification program. The Curriculum Rubric explicitly assesses the degree to which the V&C core concepts and competencies are integrated throughout the curriculum; the Faculty Practice and Student Engagement Rubric evaluates the level of student-centered pedagogy, exposure to inquiry in labs, access to authentic research for students and opportunity & diversity of development activities for faculty; the Assessment Rubric measures the correlation between student learning outcomes and assessments, degree of usage of pre & post assessments, utilization of common assessment tools, and information on program level assessment; the Infrastructure Rubric determines access to flexible reconfigurable teaching spaces, level of IT infrastructure, and access to well-designed laboratory space; the Climate for Change Rubric gauges the specificity and clarity of institutional and administrative vision, attitudes, effectiveness of communication and support for the development, enactment and maintenance of changes in institutional policies and practice. Each rubric includes a series of criteria to use to rate the level of implementation of the Vision & Change recommendations. The rubrics have been reviewed by the entire group of PULSE fellows and are being reviewed by the entire PULSE community. Feedback from these groups is being used to refine the rubrics. In addition, a detailed instruction manual is being developed to accompany the rubrics. It will include worksheets to be used in determining at what level the rubric criteria have been met. In addition, an appropriate regime of levels and weighting of the scores will also be developed.

Describe the evaluation methods that you used (or intended to use) to determine whether the project or effort achieved the desired goals and outcomes: The certification program will be evaluated as part of larger PULSE efforts.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: It is anticipated that this certification program will facilitate broad national change in how undergraduate life sciences are taught. The fully developed certification program itself will provide clear standards for what a transformed department should be doing if it has fully implemented all V&C recommendations. The certification program will be nationally recognized, providing incentive for institutional support of transformation, similar to other certification programs such as those of the American Chemical Society, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: Development of the certification program has not included any unexpected challenges. The pilot program is designed to help identify challenges and the review process will be used to meet those challenges.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: All aspects of the certification program will continue to be disseminated through the PULSE website. In addition, information on the development of the rubrics itself will be submitted for publication in a peer reviewed journal this Fall. Subsequent work on the certification program will also be written up for submission to peer-reviewed publications.

Acknowledgements: We gratefully acknowledge the PULSE community for their contributions to this effort. This work has been supported by funding from AAAS, NSF, NIH, and HHMI. In addition, the home institution of each of the PULSE fellows has provided support for work on this project.