How a Scientific Society Promotes and Supports Change

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Title of Abstract: How a Scientific Society Promotes and Supports Change

Name of Author: Sarah Wyatt
Author Company or Institution: Ohio University
PULSE Fellow: No
Applicable Courses: General Biology, Plant Biology & Botany
Course Levels: Across the Curriculum, Faculty Development
Approaches: Building faculty capacity, Defining core concepts and competencies, Mixed Approach
Keywords: Core concepts Plant Biology Professional society Faculty development

Name, Title, and Institution of Author(s): Katie Engen, American Society of Plant Biologists Erin Dolan, University of Georgia

Goals and intended outcomes of the project or effort, in the context of the Vision and Change report and recommendations: This project comprised three core activities. First, a workshop was held at the Plant Biology 2011 meeting to gather feedback from ASPB members on how to put the recommendations of the Vision & Change (V&C) report into practice. Based on the results of this workshop, a plan of action was generated to guide the development of activities and resources that ASPB could offer its members as they put V&C recommendations into practice with diverse students in a wide range of institutional contexts. Second, a small working group to generate a set of core concepts that: - outlined what undergraduate biology majors should learn about plants; were consistent with themes from V&C and the new K-12 science education framework; - were the enduring, big ideas that explained what makes plants distinct from other lineages of organisms and described the essential attributes and life strategies of plants; and - were broad and foundational in nature, and could be divided further into multiple subconcepts or units of knowledge (e.g., learning objectives) that were measurable. The final set of core concepts served as a framework for developing sample learning objectives. The final activity was to initiate the ASPB Master Educator Program in order to support selected individuals in participating in evidence-based professional development with the aim of adapting or developing educational materials.

Describe the methods and strategies that you are using: ASPB is promoting a culture that values evidence-based teaching in higher education by: - Ensuring education has ‘equal billing’ at the annual meeting. An education mini-symposium is scheduled alongside scientific mini symposia. Efforts are made to select speakers based on education data that will be presented or the published evidence base (i.e., is the work consistent with what is known about how people learn?). An education workshop engages conferees in learning actively about evidence-based instruction. An education and outreach booth is given a place of priority and high visibility in the exhibit hall, and is populated with innovative instructional resources and a ‘science education research’ library. - Promoting and supporting faculty in changing their teaching. ASPB established and funded a Master Educator Program with the aim of developing instructional materials that align with V&C recommendations. - Supporting and rewarding excellence in undergraduate science education. The ASPB runs a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. ASPB sponsors the Education Foundation Grants Program and the Education Booth Competition for Innovative Instruction, which encourage and support ASPB members in creating, evaluating, and disseminating innovative, evidence-based education resources. ASPB selects an annual recipient of the Excellence in Education Award, which is presented alongside science achievement awards at the annual meeting. - Facilitating communication and discussion about change in higher education. ASPB posts weekly updates about the Partnership for Undergraduate Life Science Education (PULSE). PULSE Leadership Fellows will present at two education events during Plant Biology 2013. Three members are PULSE fellows and two members are advisors to the fellows. ASPB also hosts a higher education interest group on its website and provides instructional materials to align with the core concepts and learning objectives.

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 executive committees of ASPB and the Botanical Society of America (BSA) as well as the entire membership of both societies were engaged in the review of the draft of the core concepts through online surveys and presentations at annual meetings in summer 2012. This helped ensure that the concepts were thoroughly vetted and that the ASPB and BSA communities were broadly invested in the effort. Plans are being developed to document the extent to which the core concepts and learning objectives are being used and the extent to which the Master Educator program addresses concerns about the lack of instructional materials in plant biology that align with V&C recommendations.

Impacts of project or effort on students, fellow faculty, department or institution. If no time to have an impact, anticipated impacts: The Society is interested in documenting the impacts of its efforts at the student, faculty, and college / university level, and would welcome feedback about how to accomplish this given limited resources. In addition, ASPB would welcome opportunities to collaborate to measure the impact of a professional society on teaching and learning.

Describe any unexpected challenges you encountered and your methods for dealing with them: The main challenges from our perspective are (1) defining realistic expectations about the impacts a scientific society can have on undergraduate education, and (2) determining how to measure outcomes and impacts from the society perspective.

Describe your completed dissemination activities and your plans for continuing dissemination: Results of this work have been disseminated in the following venues: - Annual meetings - Invited presentations at other meetings (e.g., meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities) - Society website and higher education interest group discussion board ( - Society newsletter and electronic communications - Press releases ASPB will continue to use these strategies and venues for dissemination. Feedback would be welcomed regarding how a scientific society can disseminate materials and programming in ways that are most likely to promote and encourage instruction that is aligned with V&C.

Acknowledgements: This project was supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant # 1125988) and the ASPB Education Foundation and Education Committee.