Skip to page content

Transforming STEM Education at a Research 1 University through Multi-Level Action Teams

This project aims to implement the University’s new core commitments to designing high-quality, more effective educational experiences for STEM students by:

  • Developing clear and measurable learning outcomes

  • Basing educational decisions on evidence

  • Collaborating on undergraduate education

  • Fostering continuous teaching improvement

  • Promoting inclusion and diversity

  • Sponsor
    National Science Foundation

  • Principal investigator
    Paula Lemmons
    Franklin College of Arts and Sciences

  • Co-principal investigators
    Julie A. Luft
    Athletic Association Professor of Science Education

  • Active since
    October 2018

Visit the project website


A well-prepared workforce in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is a national priority that underpins progress in science, the advancement of national health initiatives, and overall national prosperity in an increasingly technical economy. To educate this future STEM workforce, colleges and universities need to accelerate the adoption of effective teaching and learning practices at scale. This project at the University of Georgia aims to implement the University’s new core commitments to designing high-quality, more effective educational experiences for STEM students by developing clear and measurable learning outcomes, basing educational decisions on evidence, collaborating on undergraduate education, fostering continuous teaching improvement, and promoting inclusion and diversity. To achieve these goals, this project will develop teams to design and implement the necessary changes at the course, department, and institutional levels. If successful, this project could provide an example of how to make a sustainable institutional change that increases the quality of undergraduate education, and broadens the success of students in STEM fields.

Grounded in social cognition and cultural change theory, this project will develop and coordinate action teams at the three organizational levels: the course level, the department level, and the institutional level. At the course level, instructional action teams, involving 84 faculty in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, mathematics, and statistics, will revise courses to achieve foundational learning outcomes. At the department level, a leadership action team, involving twelve department heads, will meet regularly to reconsider department policies and practices, including the way that departments evaluate and recognize teaching for promotion and tenure. At the institution level, strategic action teams comprised of faculty, department heads, and deans will work to revise institutional practices, such as the teaching evaluation system, which currently interferes with the quality of education at the University. Longitudinal data will be collected from all action team participants to investigate the extent to which the multi-level action teams produce shifts in assumptions, values, and beliefs, and result in new policies and practices. Data sources will include interviews, surveys, teaching observations, course-based assessments, audio recordings of action team meetings, and artifacts revealing departmental and university policies. All data will be analyzed according to standard qualitative and quantitative protocols. Results will be disseminated through publications, conferences, press releases, and other avenues, with attention to situating the project results in the context of related findings from other research-intensive institutions. This strategy can enhance the potential that similar institutions will be able to adopt or adapt successful institutional change models to accelerate the improvement of their learning environments.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602