Uncovering Biology Department Cultural Commitments to Graduate Student Teaching Professional Development
Effective Years: 2023-2026
The United States needs a strong scientific workforce, yet only about 50% of undergraduate students seeking a degree in Biology complete that major. One of the main reasons students leave the Biology major is their perception that instruction in introductory courses is of poor quality. In many cases, graduate students are the instructors of record, especially for discussion and laboratory sections. Despite the significant instructional role that graduate students play, there is a documented lack of teaching professional development in graduate programs. This pilot project will use consensus surveys with experts to identify aspects of departmental cultures in biology fields associated with graduate student teacher training. Findings from this pilot project will be the basis for future research and for supporting higher quality training of and teaching by graduate students.
This study will utilize a Delphi methodology to identify consensus aspects of biology departmental cultural commitments associated with support for or challenges to graduate student teaching professional development. The central research question is: What are the consensus biology departmental values and beliefs that experts associate with departmental support for or resistance to teaching professional development? The multi-round, Delphi study will enable the project team to engage a sample of 40 experts from biology departments. The project is designed to iteratively generate a list of cultural commitments and rank the list in terms of importance to teaching professional development. The resulting analysis will be used by the project team to develop and propose a change theory for improving the quality of graduate student teaching professional development in biology departments.
This project is supported by NSF’s EDU Core Research (ECR) program. The ECR program emphasizes fundamental STEM education research that generates foundational knowledge in the field. Investments are made in critical areas that are essential, broad, and enduring: STEM learning and STEM learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development.
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.