Our featured #RacerScholars this week are Professors Terry L. Derting and Heather A. Passmore in the Biology Department at Murray State University. Drs. Derting and Passmore contributed to the article, “Breaking the Cycle: Future Faculty Begin Teaching with Learner-Centered Strategies after Professional Development.” The article appears in the June 2015 issue of CBE—Life Sciences Education.
The availability of reliable evidence for teaching practices after professional development is limited across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines, making the identification of professional development “best practices” and effective models for change difficult. We aimed to determine the extent to which postdoctoral fellows (i.e., future biology faculty) believed in and implemented evidence-based pedagogies after completion of a 2-yr professional development program, Faculty Institutes for Reforming Science Teaching (FIRST IV). Postdocs (PDs) attended a 2-yr training program during which they completed self-report assessments of their beliefs about teaching and gains in pedagogical knowledge and experience, and they provided copies of class assessments and video recordings of their teaching. The PDs reported greater use of learner-centered compared with teacher-centered strategies. These data were consistent with the results of expert reviews of teaching videos. The majority of PDs (86%) received video ratings that documented active engagement of students and implementation of learner-centered classrooms. Despite practice of higher-level cognition in class sessions, the items used by the PDs on their assessments of learning focused on lower-level cognitive skills. We attributed the high success of the FIRST IV program to our focus on inexperienced teachers, an iterative process of teaching practice and reflection, and development of and teaching a full course.
Breaking the Cycle: Future Faculty Begin Teaching with Learner-Centered Strategies after Professional Development
By: Diane Ebert-May, Terry L. Derting, Timothy P. Henkel, Jessica Middlemis Maher, Jennifer L. Momsen, Bryan Arnold and Heather A. Passmore
CBE—Life Sciences Education
June 1, 2015, vol. 14(2)